Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Sabino Cassese
Chapter 1: The expansion of the material scope of global law
Today there is more global policymaking, in more varied forms, than ever before, and the unwary student soon finds him- or herself stumbling through a landscape of obscure acronyms that stretch endlessly into a bureaucratic haze. There are military alliances, such as NATO and WEU; intergovernmental organizations in the classic mold, from the UN to specialist agencies such as the ILO, ICAO, ICC, WHO, and GATT; regional bodies, like the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and the Organization of American and African states; post-imperial clubs, like the Commonwealth and the Organisation international de la Francophonie; quasi-polities like the European Union; and regular summit conferences like the G-20. Nor should one ignore the vast number of NGOs of all kinds, many of which also now play a more or less formalized role in shaping global politics. The ‘bureaucratic haze’ described in this quotation is evidence of the extraordinary expansion of international law over the last few decades. Although the origins of this expansion date back as early as the enactment of the UN Charter, it was with the end of the Cold War that globalization was boosted in all aspects: economic, political and legal. Since the 1990s, therefore, international law has progressively expanded its jurisdiction, to the extent that almost all sectors of human activity are now regulated by norms produced beyond the State. Data and figures clearly show this irresistible rise of rules, institutions and regimes, as demonstrated in all chapters of this Handbook.