Ruling the World? Constitutionalism, International Law, and Global Governance

In This Review

Ruling the World? Constitutionalism, International Law, and Global Governance
Edited by Jeffrey L. Dunoff and Joel P. Trachman
Cambridge University Press, 2009
430 pp. $95.00

This fascinating volume poses the question, Is it useful to think of the sprawling system of global governance as a sort of "constitution" for the world? None of the contributors believes that states have spun a web of laws and agreements that add up to a world government. Nonetheless, the legal scholars assembled here do see aspects of constitutionalism in global rules and institutions. David Kennedy explores the connections between law and the search for governance among states, Michael Doyle finds constitution-like aspects in the UN Charter, and other chapters probe the constitutional features in the World Trade Organization and the European Union. These treaty-based organizations, the authors argue, are more than just cooperative agreements among members; they are also perpetual institutions whose ongoing authority does not require continuing consent from member states. Skeptics will question the extent to which there is coherence and force in today's global rights and laws. But the volume succeeds in showcasing the evolving connections among rights, democracy, legitimacy, and international cooperation.

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