International Organizations and the Dream of Universal Legal Systems

22 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2019

See all articles by Lorenzo Gasbarri

Lorenzo Gasbarri

Bocconi University - Department of Law

Date Written: March 26, 2019


This paper is the first draft of my contribution to the 2018 ESIL conference in Manchester. It was presented in the agora "International Organizations and the Dream of Universality", convened by the international organizations interest group. This paper applies some of the analytical instrument developed in the debates on 'Law Without the State' to the nature of the legal systems developed by international organizations. It aims at analysing the nature of the law they produce in the context of universalism. First, it discusses the transparent nature of international organizations on the basis of two concepts of legal systems and how they affect the universal aspiration. Second, it considers the relevance of the point of view to move from one concept to the other, affecting how the law of organizations can be perceived either as universal or as particular. Third, it applies the concept of absolute legality to the law of international organizations to describe how these entities derive from international law, and, at the same time, they develop particular legal systems. Finally, it focuses on the concept of 'interlegality' in order to develop a theory on the interactions between international organizations and international law that is defined as 'dual legality'.

Keywords: International organizations, universality, legal theory, legal system, interlegality

Suggested Citation

Gasbarri, Lorenzo, International Organizations and the Dream of Universal Legal Systems (March 26, 2019). European Society of International Law (ESIL) 2018 Annual Conference (Manchester), Available at SSRN: or

Lorenzo Gasbarri (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Law ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1
Milan, Milan 20136

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