GlobaLex, the online legal research collection at the New York University School of Law, has just published an update to À la Recherche des Travaux Préparatoires: An Approach to Researching the Drafting History of International Agreements
"There are at least two good reasons why one would go in search of the travaux préparatoires to an international agreement ... Before we go into those reasons, what exactly are travaux préparatoires?"
"The phrase is of course French and translates literally as 'preparatory works.' Synonymous phrases in English are 'negotiating history' or 'drafting history.' (...) "
"The first reason for seeking out travaux préparatoires can be called the interpretive reason. There is doubt or disagreement about the meaning of an international agreement. Those charged with interpreting the agreement -- it could be a court, or an arbitral tribunal, or anybody who is interested in the meaning of the agreement, including scholars -- will want to consult the travaux préparatoires for insight into the 'common intentions and agreed definitions' of the negotiators (...) "
"There is another reason ... We can call this other reason the genetic reason. There may be absolutely no doubt about the meaning of the treaty text; it is clear to every reader, even to a lawyer. Yet, we may take great interest in how the text of the agreement evolved into its final form. In other words, the evolution of the text has intrinsic historical interest."
Labels: international law, legal research and writing, treaties