Reputation and the Dynamics of Interpretation in International Law
About 30 years after the successful intervention by critical international legal scholars who argued that international law is indeterminate, it is now trite to observe that different actors can hold divergent interpretations of international law.
There is an equally pervasive understanding that in practice, however, actors oftentimes share a conception of how a certain rule is to be applied. Interpretations seem to have converged towards one or a limited number of acceptable interpretations. Exploring the apparent paradox between theoretical indeterminacy and predictability in practice, this project will seek to answer the question why such convergence in the interpretation of international law occurs in the absence of legal criteria for determining the ‘correctness’ of interpretations. It argues that the thus far neglected factor of reputation is one of the essential mechanisms driving this process, and the project therefore analyses the ways in which reputational concerns shape interpretations in international law.