World Law: An Ecumenical Jurisprudence of the Holy Spirit

16 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2005

See all articles by Harold Berman

Harold Berman

Emory University, School of Law (deceased)

Date Written: February 2005


By "world law" is meant the common features of the legal systems of the world, and especially the body of customary law that is gradually being created by the people of the world in their transnational interrelationships. Included are many aspects of world economic law, such as bankers' letters of credit, negotiable instruments, and documentary trade terms. Included also inter alia are world sports law enforced by the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, universal criminal law administered by the International Criminal Court, much of intellectual property law, and much of human rights law. The article proposes a theory of jurisprudence that is appropriate to the development of such a common law of mankind. Such a jurisprudence would integrate the traditional schools of positivism, natural-law theory, and the historical school - positivism stressing will (the policies of the lawmaker), natural law stressing reason (moral values inherent in human nature), and the historical school stressing group memory (community traditions). According to St. Augustine, these three interlocking qualities of the human mind - will, reason, and memory - reflect the image of the tri-une God and were implanted by Him in man. In the West, the three schools of legal thought split apart from each other in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the new world economy and the emerging world society of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Holy Spirit challenges us to re-integrate them in the gradual creation of the body of world law.

Suggested Citation

Berman, Harold J., World Law: An Ecumenical Jurisprudence of the Holy Spirit (February 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Harold J. Berman (Contact Author)

Emory University, School of Law (deceased) ( email )

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