David A. Wirth

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Since the Treaty of Versailles was drafted in English and French in 1919, multilingual agreements have been increasingly important in international affairs. One result of this phenomenon has been the awareness that this type of treaty can present some of the most interesting and most difficult problems of interpretation. Not surprisingly, the typical difficulty with multilingual treaties is a difference in meaning between or among the texts. Faced with a possible discrepancy, an interpreter must assume the task of resolving two conflicting principles of construction, one of which asserts that the texts are of equal force and the other that each provision of a treaty has only one meaning. Although the general problem of treaty interpretation is related to the problems of statutory construction and contract interpretation, the complexities presented by authoritative texts in various languages have attracted international attention mainly in the context of the plurilingual treaty.

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