This article analyses the practice of the Polish administrative courts with respect to application of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, based on a case study of the judgment of the Voivodship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 6 May 2014 (case no. II SA/Wa 117/14), which concerned the recognition of distance learning degrees awarded by Ukrainian universities pursuant to the 1972 Prague Convention. It is argued herein that the reasoning of the court suffers from four major drawbacks: 1) it is at variance with the text, object and purpose of the Prague Convention; 2) it does not take into account the practice in the application of that treaty; 3) it misinterprets the silence of the preparatory work to the Prague Convention on certain issues; and 4) it is inconsistent with international judicial decisions as regards the interpretation of the “special meaning” of one of the terms used in the Convention.
Ukraine, upon giving up the nuclear arsenal left on its territory by the USSR, entered in 1994 into a Memorandum on Security Assurances with the United Kingdom, United States and Russian Federation (Budapest Memorandum). Since the crisis began between the Russian Federation and Ukraine in February 2014, a number of States have invoked the Budapest Memorandum. Unclear, however, is whether this instrument constituted legal obligations among its Parties or, instead, is a political declaration having no legal effect. The distinction between political instruments and legal instruments is a recurring question in inter-State relations and claims practice. The present article considers the Budapest Memorandum in light of the question of general legal interest – namely, how do we distinguish between the legal and the political instrument?