What substantiates key language?

In short: Prece­dents of prior use in inter­na­tional agree­ments and evi­dence of sig­nif­i­cance

We are seek­ing to sub­stan­ti­ate the use, proper inter­pre­ta­tion, and sig­nif­i­cance of the con­cepts and terms that com­pose our key lan­guage. Sub­stan­ti­a­tion needs to be broadly per­sua­sive and, in par­tic­u­lar, cred­i­ble within inter­na­tional nego­ti­a­tions.

As such, this Com­pendium first and fore­most sub­stan­ti­ates key lan­guage with prece­dents of prior use in exist­ing inter­na­tional agree­ments. Put sim­ply, our author­i­ties for high level prece­dents show what mem­ber states of one gov­ern­ing body have agreed to in the past on the pre­sump­tion that this will be highly per­sua­sive in nego­ti­a­tions at both the same gov­ern­ing body and dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ing bod­ies com­pris­ing the same or sim­i­lar Mem­ber States. Those using this Com­pendium will, accord­ingly, be able to ref­er­ence a par­tic­u­lar coun­try’s prior assent to the inclu­sion of key lan­guage. This record of prece­dents is also rel­e­vant for estab­lish­ing that the use and sig­nif­i­cance of key lan­guage is set­tled both for a par­tic­u­lar gov­ern­ing body and across the United Nations sys­tem. Other agree­ments between smaller sub­sets of the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity will be sim­i­larly per­sua­sive and are con­sid­ered author­i­ties for inter­gov­ern­men­tal prece­dent.

As noted by the Geneva Grad­u­ate Insti­tute’s Global Health Cen­tre “the impor­tance of agreed lan­guage should not be under­es­ti­mated. ... Lan­guage on sex­ual and repro­duc­tive rights and vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions at high risk of HIV infec­tion has been adopted, for exam­ple in the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly res­o­lu­tions on HIV/AIDS and can be used as a prece­dent to sup­port such lan­guage in other res­o­lu­tions in other orga­ni­za­tions.”

We have also iden­ti­fied the reports, rec­om­men­da­tions and deci­sions of United Nations appointed inde­pen­dent experts man­dated with inter­pret­ing and eval­u­at­ing com­pli­ance with legally bind­ing treaties as author­i­ties for expert prece­dent that sub­stan­ti­ate the mean­ing and sig­nif­i­cance of key lan­guage. The only bod­ies iden­ti­fied so far under this head­ing are the treaty bod­ies and the spe­cial pro­ce­dures of the United Nations human rights sys­tem. In inter­pret­ing and elab­o­rat­ing on the human rights com­mit­ments of States, these expert bod­ies also estab­lish prece­dents for the use, mean­ing and sig­nif­i­cance of key lan­guage within and beyond the human rights sys­tem.

For­mal doc­u­ments pro­duced and pub­lished by inter­gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions, in par­tic­u­lar the sec­re­tari­ats of the UN and its spe­cialised agen­cies, con­sti­tutes evi­dence on the mean­ing, sig­nif­i­cance and con­tin­ued rel­e­vance of key lan­guage. This inter­gov­ern­men­tal evi­dence is author­i­ta­tive due to the char­ac­ter of the organ­i­sa­tions that pro­duce it as well as the processes by which the doc­u­ments are pro­duced. On the for­mer, the sec­re­tari­ats of the UN and its spe­cialised agen­cies derive nor­ma­tive author­ity from their polit­i­cal neu­tral­ity and by virtue of their tech­ni­cal exper­tise. On the lat­ter, the pub­li­ca­tions are gen­er­ally pro­duced with tech­ni­cal rigour and pur­suant to a man­date pro­vided by rel­e­vant Mem­ber States tech­ni­cal rigour. Pro­duc­tion and pub­li­ca­tion of doc­u­ments is also often accom­pa­nied and pre­ceded by con­sul­ta­tion with rel­e­vant Mem­ber States.