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Whose Public, Whose Order? Imperium, Region, and Normative Friction

Christopher Borgen

St. John's University - School of Law

Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 32, 2007
St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-0075

This article, part of an ongoing project by the author on law and hegemony in Eurasia, considers the strengths and weaknesses of the New Haven School's policy-oriented jurisprudence in light of the competition among multiple conceptions of world public order that exist today. Taking as its starting point the concept of the world being divided into diverse systems of public order, as defined by Harold Lasswell and Myres McDougal, this article assesses how this idea of diversity applies to post-Cold War geopolitics. As a test case, it focuses on Eurasia as a geographic space where multiple conceptions of public order, including those of the United States, the European Union, Russia, and Islamic fundamentalism, overlap, interact, and at times compete, especially in the unstable arc of states bordering Russia.

Part I introduces the idea of diverse systems of public order described in policy-oriented jurisprudence. It also situates the New Haven School as part of the liberal modernist tradition that attempts to find universal norms and/or techniques to address questions of political or normative conflict. Part II examines the different public orders in today's multipolar, multinormative world. Part III proposes the concepts of systemic borderlands (states that are the geopolitical crossroads between two or more normative realms) and of normative friction (the process by which competing conceptions of public order interact in these borderland states) as means of describing normative interactions in a multipolar world. Part IV considers examples of systemic borderlands and normative friction in Eurasia and, in particular, the recent disputes over the accession of East European states to the E.U. and to NATO and the ongoing conflicts over the states of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions. Finally, Part V considers ways in which the New Haven School can build on some of its own original insights on the existence of diverse systems of public order in light of changes in international politics and sets out questions for further investigation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

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Date posted: June 1, 2007 ; Last revised: December 4, 2008

Suggested Citation

Borgen, Christopher, Whose Public, Whose Order? Imperium, Region, and Normative Friction. Yale Journal of International Law, Vol. 32, 2007; St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-0075. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=989984

Contact Information

Christopher Borgen (Contact Author)
St. John's University - School of Law ( email )
8000 Utopia Parkway
Jamaica, NY 11439
United States
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