Numerous legal texts and scholars use the term “transnational” to describe diverse legal concepts or phenomena the more traditional term “international” cannot fully or accurately capture. At least three different aspects are referred to or analyzed as transnational: the nature of the relevant cases, the operation of relevant legal systems, and the process of norm-making. First, many legal issues, including human rights cases, factually possess transnational features. Compare transborder human trafficking with a more traditional, textbook international human rights case such as discrimination against ethnic minorities in a certain state. The latter involves a state violating the human rights of its nationals within its territory, followed by an intervention of international law in a situation previously regarded as a “domestic matter.” In such cases, the main perpetrator is the state, the victims are the state’s own nationals, and human rights violations are committed within the state’s territory. A cross-border human trafficking case inverts this model: Continue reading
The past decade has been one of the most turbulent times in the process of European integration. In this period, the European Union has risen to the stars and fallen back from the heavens. The beginning of the new millennium was marked by enviable achievements. The EU carried out a successful enlargement to the East. It adopted a single currency and experienced a boom in economic growth. The objective, laid down in the Lisbon strategy, was to make the EU “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.” This goal ought to have been met by 2020. However, the developments taking place since 2000 have made the attainment of this objective anything but possible. Rather than becoming the leading economy in the world, since 2009 the EU has been in permanent economic crisis. And, while the crisis has been tamed, it is far from resolved. Its consequences for the most affected member states in the South and in the East have been grave. They have shaken up the foundations of the well-ordered societies that these member states have at least tried or pretended to be. Continue reading
Citizenship was the mark of political affiliation in Europe in the twentieth century. While estate, religion, party, class, and nation lost political significance in the century of extremes, citizenship advanced to become the decisive category of political affiliation.
In the century’s upheavals and political struggles, the legal institution of citizenship had a decisive influence on the limits of a political community, on in- and exclusion, and thus on an individual’s opportunities in life. Its enfranchisement included the obligation to risk life and limb for the survival of one’s country in exchange for the right to protection, participation in the expanding political and social rights in the democracies and welfare states of Europe and ultimately access to the new legal status of being a citizen of the European Union. Continue reading
The question about the historical relation between international law and colonialism (and its legacy) has grown in relevance over the last twenty-odd years. Critical scholars speak of international law’s “complete complicity with the colonial project” – meaning the exploitation and domination of the global south. They point to the ‘dark side’ of the promises of ‘order’, ‘equality’, and ‘(world) peace’ inherent in the enlightened idea of the ius gentium europaeum.
It is important to point out that nineteenth-century contemporaries were already well aware of the relation between international law and colonialism but they did not look at it from a moral perspective. Continue reading
Global governance consists of a multitude of international institutions. Although these institutions regulate only individual areas of transnational governance like trade, security, climate change, and financial assistance, they do not operate in isolation from each other, but overlap in their competences. With regard to international financial assistance, for example, the competences of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and regional development banks overlap. In the realm of international security, NATO overlaps with the Common Security and Defense Policy of the European Union. The trade-environment-nexus features overlap between the WTO and several environmental institutions, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Ozone Protection Regime, and the Biodiversity Regime. Continue reading
The history of how today’s Europe developed is presented from the present-day perspective, from that of the current form of European integration: a democratic, politically integrated structure based on the rule of law and economic freedoms, growing prosperity and voluntary membership. This structure is characterized by common values in the canon of classical rights to freedom and the obligation for peace. It reflects how, after 1945, the European integration process foreswore excessive violence, pronounced nationalism, and the policy of excessive and authoritarian state control that destroyed freedom during the first half of the century. Continue reading
Contemporary democracies ascribe to constitutional courts, among other things, the pivotal role of protecting and implementing rights against the background of electoral politics. That task was arguably played, over the past decades, with varying degrees of success. At the same time, these courts have gradually occupied a major political space. This has generated a significant revival of the age-old question about the democratic legitimacy of constitutional review, an arrangement that empowers unelected judges to control decisions by parliamentary representatives. Continue reading