The Structure of Global Law: Fracture, Fluidity, Permeability, and Polycentricity
Larry Catá Backer
Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law
July 1, 2012
CPE Working Paper No. 2012-7
Penn State Law Research Paper No. 15-2012
Global law can be understood as the systematization of anarchy, as the management of a loosely intertwined universe of autonomous governance frameworks operating dynamically across borders and grounded in functional differentiation among governance communities. Global law is a way of pointing to an emerging universe of systems that share characteristics and whose interactions lend them to organization; it is the as the law of non-state governance systems. The structure of global law can be understood as an amalgamation of four fundamental characteristics that together define a new order in form that is, in some respects, the antithesis of the orderliness and unity of the law-state system it will displace (though not erase). The essay considers the structure of global law in this context, understood as an amalgamation of four fundamental characteristics that together define a new order in form that is, in some respects, the antithesis of the orderliness and unity of the law-state system it will displace (though not erase). These four fundamental characteristics — fracture, fluidity, permeability, and polycentricity — comprise the fundamental structure of global law. Fracture, fluidity, permeability and polycentricity are the basic characteristics of global law, the systematization of which marks its field boundaries. These also serve as the structural foundations of its constitutional element, its substantive element, and its process element. From that systematization one can derive a method of theorizing the emerging framework of the unity of disunity in governance, in which law and governance systems multiply within a discernible internal logic, while the objects of regulation remain constant. This essay continues work on the evolution of a "law" beyond that of the domestic legal orders of states and the international law frameworks that serve as an expression of state based collective governance. To that extent, it seeks to liberate theory both from the ideological constraints of the state system and as well from the limitations of earlier work in transnational law. To consider the possibility of global law, of law/governance beyond the state, it is necessary to avoid attaching its framework either to the state or to law (as traditionally and narrowly understood as a product of the state).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: polycentricity, globalization, fracture, governance, multinational corporaitons, state power
JEL Classification: K33, F01, 019, P5
Date posted: July 1, 2012 ; Last revised: October 3, 2012
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