The Rule of Law

The Rule of Law

The Common Sense of Global Politics

Christopher May

This timely book explores the complexities of the rule of law – a well-used but perhaps less well understood term - to explain why it is so often appealed to in discussions of global politics. Ranging from capacity building and the role of the World Bank to the discourse(s) of lawyers and jurisprudential critiques, it seeks to introduce non-lawyers to the important and complex political economy of the rule of law.

Chapter 6: Global constitutionalism: the rule of law by another name?

Christopher May

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, law and society, legal philosophy, legal theory, politics and public policy, political economy


The constitutionalisation of international law hinges on the rule of law rather than on the rule of force. (Paulus 2009, p. 98) Constitutional discourse is posited as a supplement, something that will supply 'more' of whatever is currently 'lacking' in transnational legality; democracy, accountability [or] legitimacy. (Buchanan 2012, p. 9) It has become de rigeur to reach for constitutional language when considering postnational legal entities so long as they bear some resemblance to formal features we associate with constitutional rule. (Isiksel 2012, p. 102) I now shift the focus of my argument to how the rule of law has played out in the discussion of global politics in the new millennium; the discussion of the possibility and actuality of a global constitution, I suggest, is merely another way of talking about the rule of law. States often use the rhetoric of the rule of law in pronouncements about other states' (political) actions, as well as using it to justify their own, but this remains largely an international issue (Watts 1993). At the supranational level the norm of the rule of law has underpinned the development of the further claim that a global constitution is both possible and beneficial, while also attracting a certain amount of criticism for the manner in which it has developed and its (legal) character.

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