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The Constitutionalization of International Law

The Constitutionalization of International Law

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be hosting an online symposium discussing the recent book by Jan Klabbers, Anne Peters and Geir Ulfstein, The Constitutionalization of International Law (OUP, 2009). This is one of series of recent books examining constitutionalism at the international level. Readers will remember that we held a discussion of another such book edited by Dunoff & Trachtmann, Ruling the World? Constitutionalism, International Law, and Global Governance in December 2009 (see here for posts on that book). The book by Klabbers, Peters and Ulfstein addresses conceptual concepts about constitutionalization (what is it?) and tackles whether the process is indeed taking place and what implications this has for interntional law. It asks: 

to what extent the international legal system has constitutional features comparable to what we find in national law. This question has become increasingly relevant in a time of globalization, where new international institutions and courts are established to address international issues. Constitutionalization beyond the nation state has for many years been discussed in relation to the European Union. This book asks whether we now see constitutionalization taking place also at the global level.

The book investigates what should be characterized as constitutional features of the current international order, in what way the challenges differ from those at the national level and what could be a proper interaction between different international arrangements as well as between the international and national constitutional level. Finally, it sketches the outlines of what a constitutionalized world order could and should imply. The book is a critical appraisal of constitutionalist ideas and of their critique. It argues that the reconstruction of the current evolution of international law as a process of constitutionalization -against a background of, and partly in competition with, the verticalization of substantive law and the deformalization and fragmentation of international law- has some explanatory power, permits new insights and allows for new arguments.

In addition to posts by the authors summarising the ideas in the book, we will have comments by Jeffrey Dunoff (Temple University), Joel Trachtman (Fletcher School, Tufts University); Dan Bodansky (Arizona State Unversity), Steven Wheatley (University of Leeds) and Jean L. Cohen (Columbia). As always readers are invited to add their own comments.

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