Professions Without Borders

28 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017

See all articles by Charles Sampford

Charles Sampford

Griffith University - Griffith Law School

Date Written: August 19, 2009


The emergence of strong sovereign states after the Treaty of Westphalia turned two of the most cosmopolitan professions (law and arms) into two of the least cosmopolitan. Sovereign states determined the content of the law within their borders – including which, if any, ecclesiastical law was to be applied; what form of economic regulation was adopted; and what, if any, international law applied. Similarly, states sought to ensure that all military force was at their disposal in national armies. The erosion of sovereignty in a post-Westphalian world may significantly reverse these processes.

The erosion of sovereignty is likely to have profound consequences for the legal profession and the ethics of how, and for what ends, it is practised. Lawyers have played a major role in the civilization of sovereign states through the articulation and institutionalisation of key governance values – starting with the rule of law. An increasingly global profession must take on similar tasks. The same could be said of the military.

This essay will review the concept of an international rule of law and its relationship to domestic conceptions and outline the task of building the international rule of law and the role that lawyers can and should play in it.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Professions

Suggested Citation

Sampford, Charles, Professions Without Borders (August 19, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Charles Sampford (Contact Author)

Griffith University - Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus, GU
Nathan 4111

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