Regime-Collisions: The Vain Search for Legal Unity in the Fragmentation of Global Law

48 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2006 Last revised: 3 Sep 2009

See all articles by Gunther Teubner

Gunther Teubner

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität

Andreas Fischer-Lescano

University of Bremen


Global legal pluralism is not simply a result of political pluralism, but is instead the expression of deep contradictions between colliding sectors of a global society. At core, the fragmentation of global law is not simply about legal norm collisions or policyconflicts, but rather has its origin in contradictions between society-wide institutionalized rationalities, which law cannot solve, but which demand a new legal approach to colliding norms. This thesis will be evolved with three arguments: (1) The fragmentation of global law is more radical than any single reductionist perspective - legal, political, economic or cultural - can comprehend. Legal fragmentation is merely an ephemeral reflection of a more fundamental, multidimensional fragmentation of global society itself. (2) Any aspirations to a normative unity of global law are thus doomed from the outset. A meta-level at which conflicts might be solved is wholly elusive both in global law and in global society. Instead, we might expect intensified legal fragmentation. (3) Legal fragmentation cannot itself be combated. At the best, a weak normative compatibility of the fragments might be achieved. However, this is dependent upon the ability of conflicts law to establish a specific network logic, which can effect a loose coupling of colliding units.

Keywords: legal sociology, global rule of law , global constitutionalism, fragmentation of law, legal pluralism

JEL Classification: K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Teubner, Gunther and Fischer-Lescano, Andreas, Regime-Collisions: The Vain Search for Legal Unity in the Fragmentation of Global Law. Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 25, No. 4, 2004, pp. 999-1046, Available at SSRN:

Gunther Teubner (Contact Author)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, D-60323
0049 69 71034781 (Phone)
0049 69 798-34405 (Fax)


Andreas Fischer-Lescano

University of Bremen ( email )

Universitaetsallee GW I
Bremen, D-28334

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