What substantiates key language?
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.