Wait a Minute – Is China Really the Winner?

A response to JĂĽrgen Gerhards and Michael ZĂĽrn

The systemic competition between China and liberal democracies has reached a new level. In addition to economic growth and development, managing the COVID-19 crisis has become a new benchmark for comparing the performance of alternative scripts. JĂĽrgen Gerhards and Michael ZĂĽrn have called out China as the winner in containing the pandemic and mastering its economic and social consequences. They do not attribute China’s success to its autocratic system and to state capitalism. Pointing to the exceptional performance of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, Gerhards and ZĂĽrn argue that it is the shared approach of “testing, tracking, and isolating,” which explains the East Asian success.

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And the winner is… China

Does the management of the coronavirus crisis show the superiority of a technocratic autocracy?

For a long time, social scientists have assumed that the liberal model of society consisting of individual self-determination, democracy, capitalist market economy, and welfare state was the ideal way to social development and modernization. This belief was not only based on the claim of normativ superiority, but also on the claim of superior performance. The last decades however, liberal democracies proved to be far more unstable and at risk, as autocratic developments in the United States, Poland or Hungary have shown. And existing autocracies, such as the communist China, turned out to be enormously successful. Continue reading

An Irish Claim to Rockall

Due to Brexit, dispute has again arisen between the UK and Ireland over Rockall, a small rock in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, and its surrounding waters. On January 4th a Marine Scotland patrol boat stopped and boarded an Irish fishing trawler, forcing it to leave waters within 12 nautical miles of the rock. Scotland asserted the UK claim to Rockall in anticipation of Brexit and sent patrol boats to the area immediately upon formally exiting the EU legal order on January 1st. In response the Irish Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Agriculture, Food and the Marine issued a joint statement saying they were engaging with Scottish authorities but that “there remains an increased risk of enforcement action being taken by Scottish fisheries control authorities against Irish vessels operating in the waters around Rockall at present.” Continue reading

What Makes Law Our Law? A New Justification for Procedural Legitimacy

In his contribution to the recently published volume Public Reason and Courts, Mattias Kumm provides a theory of constitutional authority. In my view, this theory is founded on intuitive foundations and I hope to complement these intuitions with a more comprehensive theory. In the following short commentary on his chapter, I will defend his argument and attempt to provide a deeper theoretical account of his concept of legitimacy.

According to Kumm, the primary role of public institutions is to settle disagreements. Two types of disagreements are at stake here–substantive and procedural. He writes: Continue reading

Don’t Neglect the Language of Law!

The starting point for my book “A Global History of Ideas in the Language of Law” which will soon be published in the series “Global Perspectives on Legal History” is the (hopefully) uncontroversial finding that the history of ideas can be written as a history of languages. This approach has been elaborated by the so-called “Cambridge School of Intellectual History”, especially in their influential writings about the languages circulating in the discourses on the legitimacy of political orders. The protagonists of the school (Pocock, Skinner et al.) coined the term “languages of politics” for the languages thus analyzed, underlining the political nature of their genesis, use and reproduction. Continue reading

How can the ECtHR stay true to its commitment to democracy?

2020 is a special year for Europe: it marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the European Convention on Human Rights, which has played an essential role in stabilizing democracies in post-war and post-cold war Europe. Owing to the mandatory jurisdiction enjoyed by the European Court of Human Rights, it has had an enormous impact on the nature of democracy in the member states. Continue reading

Afrikanische Akteure und Interessen. Eine globale Geschichte des Völkerrechts wird erst noch geschrieben

Die Geschichte des Völkerrechts wurde in der Vergangenheit als eine überwiegend europäische Geschichte und als Teil der Geschichte der europäischen Ex­pansion erzählt: Im ius gentium europaeum der christlich-europäischen Staatenfamilie haben sich seit dem 17. Jahrhundert die prinzipiell gleichberechtigten Staaten Europas zwischenstaatlichen Normen unterworfen – dem Gesandtschaftsrecht, dem Recht zum Krieg, dem Recht im Krieg, dem Recht der Staatsverträge und anderen. Ein solches Völkerrecht blieb aber zunächst ohne Geltung für die Völker Asiens oder Afrikas außerhalb der „Alten Welt“ und Neu-Europas in der „Neuen Welt“.

Seit rund zwei Jahrzehnten verfolgen Forscherinnen und Forscher ein großes neues Projekt: Die eurozentrische Erzählung soll einer globalen völkerrechtlichen Forschungsperspektive auf die Geschichte der internationalen Beziehungen weichen, die die friedlichen oder gewaltsamen Verflechtungen – auch durch Imperialismus und Kolonialismus – zwischen Staaten auf allen Kontinenten in den Blick nimmt. Continue reading