CWR > Volume 1(1); 2015 > Articles
Research Paper
Published online: March 1, 2015

'Contemporary Meaning' in Treaty Interpretation in the WTO and ICJ Cases

Yang Yu
Shanghai University of International Business and Economics School of WTO Research and Education
No. 1900 Wenxiang Road, Songjiang District, Shanghai, China 201620
Corresponding Author:

Jiang Li
Zhejiang University Guanghua Law School

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Treaty interpretation is one of the most crucial roles of international dispute settlement bodies. They can decide the case in the most reasonable way by legally justified interpretation of treaty. In some cases of the WTO and the ICJ, there exist certain types of facts which closely relate to the evolution of the meaning of a term. This research compares the four ICJ cases to the two WTO cases in order to ascertain both similarities and dissimilarities of those cases. Significant is the dissimilarities concerning the related principle on the economic or environmental aspect enshrined in certain agreement. In the context of the WTO dispute settlement, the contemporary meaning could only be adoptable after adequately justifying treaty interpretation by means of the two-step semantic generic-related interpretative approach. Without the second step of principle-related analysis, problems may arise especially from the economic perspective.

Keywords : WTO, ICJ, Treaty Interpretation, Contemporary Meaning, Generic

View the Full Text