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New Approaches to International Law: The European and the American Experiences

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Everywhere we can see the impact of things foreign and far away. People everywhere feel vulnerable to global economic and political forces. But how do these things threaten us and what levers are available to respond? So much about global society remains obscure. What holds it together? How much is chaos, how much system? How are we governed at the global level? Urgent issues implicating people and places across the globe seem to call out for a coordinated global response. How might we aspire to govern?

The local—and diverse—impact of faraway things makes a global response to them difficult, even when it seems most necessary. Although the economic crisis is ‘‘global,’’ it is felt differently by each person and each nation. Just as the costs and opportunities of climate change will fall unevenly across the planet. This disconnect between local and global and the diverse distribution of gains and losses ensures that many significant issues will be solved neither by one city or nation or corporation alone, nor by the United Nations and the routines of global summitry. We might conclude that improved ‘‘global governance’’ is the answer: a diffuse global public policy capacity to aggregate interests, resolve conflicts, manage risks, address common problems, and promote prosperity. International law might well be the material from which such a capacity might be wrought. Intellectuals and policy professionals have ploughed these fields for more than a century, imagining and promoting international law as a tool for global governance.
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