Handbook on Global Constitutionalism
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Handbook on Global Constitutionalism

Edited by Anthony F. Lang and Antje Wiener

This Handbook introduces scholars and students to the history, philosophy, and evidence of global constitutionalism. Contributors provide their insights from law, politics, international relations, philosophy, and history, drawing on diverse frameworks and empirical data sets. Across them all, however, is a recognition that the international order cannot be understood without an understanding of constitutional theory. The Handbook will define this field of inquiry for the next generation by bringing together some of the leading contemporary scholars.
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Chapter 26: The UN Charter and global constitutionalism?

Michael W. Doyle


The chapter explores the degree to which the United Nations (UN) Charter serves as a constitution for the international order. It finds that the Charter is neither like a national federal constitution (for example, the US Constitution) nor an ordinary contract-like treaty. Its key constitutional features are three: first, limited supranationality; second, political inequality and, third, like all constitutions, an ‘invitation to struggle’ that leads to inevitable pushback from states when UN authority expands. The chapter explains both the planned and inadvertent transfers of authority embodied in modern peacekeeping mandates and the Millennium Development Goals. It concludes with a discussion of the wider constitutional significance and prospects of the UN in the light of the contrasting success of the history of US federalism and European integration.

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