Journal of World Trade   |  August 25, 2009

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Article 31(3)(c) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties obliges a treaty interpreter to take into account ‘any relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties.’ The WTO Panel Report in EC – Approval and Marketing of Biotech Products held that all parties to a treaty under interpretation must also be parties to an extraneous treaty in order for that extraneous treaty to trigger Article 31(3)(c). However, contrary to this overly restrictive approach, Article 31(3)(c) should be viewed a basic procedural obligation to consider relevant rules of international law where the issues in dispute fall within the scope of those extraneous rules.

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