Allasalute | Yom Yom Agreement
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Yom Yom Agreement

Yom Yom Agreement

Indeed, the Good Friday Agreement defines two ways in which the North and the South can cooperate. First, by creating “implementation bodies” under the direct responsibility of the North-South Council of Ministers and, second, by assuming “areas of cooperation” in which the North and The South would work together through separate bodies between their separate jurisdictions and not through newly created “cross-border” institutions. In addition, the agreement stipulates that there should be at least twelve “themes” of cooperation between North and South; six in each category, i.e. six that will be covered by “implementation bodies” and six others that will be considered “areas of cooperation.” The agreement also contains an appendix that contains a list of points that can be included in the twelve “thematic areas.” It is therefore very clear that the Good Friday agreement has left open the possibility of more than twelve “themes” and more than six points in each of the two categories. In addition, the list in the appendix could be interpreted as a mandatory list, but also as a non-compulsory list, depending on how one reads the importance of the auxiliary verb in this context. Provision B states that “both sides agree that talks between them will begin immediately in order to clarify the issue of the return to positions of 22 October as part of an agreement on the withdrawal and secession of troops under the aegis of the United Nations.” This provision is a shining example of a “syntactic ambiguity” that Egyptian and Israeli negotiators could interpret in a diametrically opposed manner to Naston, based on the syntactic links they considered appropriate between the parties to the provision. Egyptian negotiators interpreted this provision as a clear request to Israel to withdraw its armed forces in accordance with UN Committee Resolution 340. The syntactic link they saw fit was that between “return to the positions of 22 October” and “under the aegis of the United Nations”. However, Israeli negotiators understood the provision only in such a way as to ask the parties to negotiate a “separation of forces” agreement without any concrete request to return to the 22 October lines.

The syntactic link they thought was right was the one between “discussions… the issue needs to be clarified” and “under the aegis of the United Nations.” Franck proposed an additional argument against the use of vague terms, provisions or norms in peace agreements. He says vague standards cannot be considered fair. The fairness of a standard implies that such a standard is understandable to those who are supposed to comply. If those who are to stick to a vague standard do not fully understand its consequences, including the complex process of its legal interpretation, this standard could not be characterized as fair. That is why, in the eyes of those who should comply, semantic and linguistic determinants may meet a standard, while linguistic ambiguities make a standard opaque, difficult to understand and ultimately unfair to those who conform to it.27 Therefore the method of empirical examination of Franck`s argument is not a fully reliable method of discussing and resolving the question of the use of ambiguities in peace agreements. There is another method, purely deductive, to support a debate on this subject.

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