The objective of this workshop is to address two interrelated questions when it comes to the interpretation of customary international law (CIL):
i) What is the role of interpretation in the construction/concretization of a CIL rule? and
ii) How can interpretation contribute to the normative development of international law?
With question (i), participants are asked to reflect on the role of interpretation in the construction of CIL rules, the concretization of their content, and their potential evolution. This question has an inward-looking focus, in that it examines how interpretation shapes customary rules. With question (ii), participants are asked to reflect on the role of interpretation more broadly in the system of international law. This question has an outward-looking ‘bird’s eye’ perspective, in that it examines how the interpretation of customary rules affects the practice and development of international law, including potentially the role of interpretation as a strategic tool for change. In approaching either of these two questions, participants are invited to employ the analytical lens of “interpretation as a tool”.
The workshop is divided in two panels, each dedicated to one of the overarching research questions. Within each panel, the speakers are invited to reflect on several sub-points related to the overarching research question. The panels are organized in the format of a moderated roundtable discussion. In this format, the panelists will be invited to comment on a set of questions posed by the chair of their panel. The chair will ask one question at a time, after which the floor will be given to each panelist. In this way, we hope to foster a more interactive discussion, in which the panelists will be able to both engage with each question and with each other.