Republicanism and Global Justice: A Sketch

European Journal of Political Theory, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 48-69, 2010

21 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2011

See all articles by Cecile Laborde

Cecile Laborde

University College London, Political Science


Prima facie, republicanism has a blind spot about global justice. The republican tradition seems to have little to say about pressing international issues such as world poverty or global inequalities.

According to the old, if apocryphal, adage: extra rempublicam nulla justitia. Some may doubt that distributive justice (as opposed to freedom or citizenship) is the primary virtue of republican institutions; and at any rate most would agree that republican values have traditionally been realised in the polis not in the (oxymoronic) cosmopolis. In this paper, I sketch a republican account of global non-domination which suggests that duties of distributive justice are not necessarily bounded to the institutions of a single society. In particular, I argue that republicans have good reasons to seek to curb those global inequalities which underpin what I call capability-denying domination. Because my main purpose is to set out an agenda for research in a still largely unexplored area, I can only provide here a preliminary sketch of this republican argument for global justice. In fact, it is not part of my claim that the republicanism offers a full, coherent account of global justice; nor that republicanism is a more attractive theory than existing liberal cosmopolitan theory. I merely attempt to conceptualise the distinctive features of a republican approach to global justice, leaving a full assessment of its merits for subsequent enquiry.

Suggested Citation

Laborde, Cecile, Republicanism and Global Justice: A Sketch. European Journal of Political Theory, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 48-69, 2010. Available at SSRN:

Cecile Laborde (Contact Author)

University College London, Political Science ( email )

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