Monthly Archives: August 2013

Top-Down, Bottom-Up or the Yin and Yang Metaphor? How to Envision the Global Legal System

Every state looks internally to its constitution for the source of its authority. If in the past sovereigns drew their legitimacy from God, they now invoke their peoples’ right to self-determination. This vision also implies that they are exempt from international obligations unless they have freely consented to them. Such a vision comports with the positivistic theory of international law, which therefore is espoused by governments and some state-dominated courts.

However, this is a myopic vision that fails to notice the other dimension of the bigger picture. Like those who see only one part of the Rorschach test, governments as well as many political thinkers and legal scholars fail to acknowledge the more complex interrelation between the state and the global, between domestic law and international law. Continue reading