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The Descriptive Value and Normative Force of the Preambles to the Treaties making up the European Social Charter System (Stefano Angeleri)

Revisiting the preamble to the European Social Charter (ESC) does not entail examining just one text: the Charter system is composed of five different treaties. Thus, this paper explores, recital by recital, the historical significance and descriptive value of the preambles in the ESC system, and assess what their normative role is - or could be. This twofold analysis is presented in three core sections that relate to the preambles to 1) the ESC of 1961; 2) the Protocols of 1988, 1991 and 1995; and 3) the Revised Charter of 1996, respectively. The conclusions show that the preambles of this treaty system represent a rich source of heterogeneous information on the historical motives and ideals that led to the drafting of the treat(ies), the system's revitalisation needs and the substantive and procedural reform steps that have been undertaken. Preambles can also exercise normative force adding interpretative nuance and filling gaps that may exist in the main text of the Charter(s).