Comprehending Global Governance: International Regime Complexity v. Global Constitutionalism

iCourts Working Paper Series No. 167

Forthcoming in Global Constitutionalism

15 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2019

See all articles by Karen J. Alter

Karen J. Alter

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science; University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law - iCourts Center of Excellence

Date Written: August 15, 2019

Abstract

This is a commentary on a special issue titled Beyond Fragmentation that unites political science conversations about regime complexity with legal/normative conversations about global constitutionalism through a focus on the generation and resolution of interface conflicts, defined as moments when overlapping elements or rule incompatibilities generate actual conflicts. The article explains the different objectives of the political science and legal/normative debates, arguing that this special issue is closer to the global constitutionalism perspective, which generally seeks legitimated order. By contrast, the regime complexity literature asks “how does the fact that global governance is spread across multiple institution in itself shape cooperation politics?” Investigating what it means to get “beyond fragmentation,” I suggest that the potential or actuality of rule conflicts is not necessarily a problem because conflicts are a normal and even salutary aspect of politics. If conflict is not the concern, then what should we be worrying about? Both perspectives, I argue, are amoral because they normalize and help justify promoting order while failing to address fundamental problems affecting people and the world. Even if scholars can fashion constitutional rules, institutions and sensibilities, the reality that politicians choose to govern the globe through often incoherent and intentionally incomplete regime complexes, more than the fact of conflict, is something we all should worry and complain more about.

Keywords: global governance, global constitutionalism, international law, fragmentation

Suggested Citation

Alter, Karen J., Comprehending Global Governance: International Regime Complexity v. Global Constitutionalism (August 15, 2019). iCourts Working Paper Series No. 167. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3437703 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3437703

Karen J. Alter (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law - iCourts Center of Excellence ( email )

Karen Blixens Plads 16
Copenhagen, DK-2300
Denmark

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