State Sovereignty, Popular Sovereignty and Individual Sovereignty: From Constitutional Nationalism to Multilevel Constitutionalism in International Economic Law?

EUI LAW Working Paper No. 2006/45

36 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2007

See all articles by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

This paper discusses the basic constitutional problem of modern international law since the UN Charter: How can the power-oriented international legal system based on "sovereign equality of states" be reconciled with the universal recognition of "inalienable" human rights deriving from respect for human dignity and popular sovereignty? State representatives, intergovernmental organizations, international judges and non-governmental organizations often express different views on how far the universal recognition of human rights has changed the subjects, structures, general principles, interpretative methods and "object and purpose" of international law (e.g. by the emergence of erga omnes obligations and jus cogens limiting state sovereignty to renounce human rights treaties, to refuse diplomatic protection of individuals abroad, or domestic implementation of international obligations for the benefit of domestic citizens). The paper explains why effective protection of human rights at home and abroad requires multilevel constitutional protection of individual rights as well as multilevel constitutional restraints of national, regional and worldwide governance powers and procedures. While all European states have accepted that the European Convention on Human Rights and EC law have evolved into international constitutional law, the prevailing paradigm for most states outside Europe remains "constitutional nationalism" rather than "multilevel constitutional pluralism." Consequently, European proposals for reforms of international economic law often aim at "constitutional reforms" (e.g. of worldwide governance institutions) rather than only "administrative reforms," as they are frequently favoured by non-European governments defending state sovereignty and popular sovereignty within a more power-oriented "international law among states."

Keywords: international economic law, constitutionalism, human rights

Suggested Citation

Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, State Sovereignty, Popular Sovereignty and Individual Sovereignty: From Constitutional Nationalism to Multilevel Constitutionalism in International Economic Law? (December 2006). EUI LAW Working Paper No. 2006/45, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=964147 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.964147

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze
Italy

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