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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: January 2015

4 - The circuit of global law



In the introduction to the previous chapter we referred to an underlying unity of concern across the quite different visions – convergencepromoting and divergence-accommodating – and the various species of global law. We also alluded to how that unity in diversity expresses itself as a relationship of mutual presupposition and mutual tension. Our subsequent exploration of the various species of global law now allows us to add meat to the bare bones of these propositions. We are able to identify the qualified basis upon which convergent and divergent conceptions, and the various species of global law bearing these conceptions, together with the various images associated with these conceptions – pyramid, umbrella, vessel, thread, chain, segment and flow – are able to co-exist and co-occur in principle.

In addition, we are in a position to demonstrate how that in-principle cohabitation among the different species of global law feeds into the close yet sometimes rivalrous interdependence of their embryonic practice. The incipient category of global law, in other words, possesses a self-generating and self-sustaining quality, but it is a quality that is also closely bound up with its self-critical and internally contested edge. This adds an important dimension to our understanding of the emergence of global law. We have seen in the previous chapter, in tracing the various pressures that shape the different species of global law, how much of its foreground impetus comes from the increased density and diversity of international and transnational regulation. Equally, we observed in Chapter 2 how much of its background influence comes from the occupational culture and practice of lawyers and jurists. In addition, we are now able to claim, global law is a theme that both feeds and challenges itself, and so generates forward impetus, by dint of the very character and circuitous interplay of its discourse and practice.

The double normativity of global law

Our argument here proceeds in three stages. In the first place, we should take note of the area of common ground occupied by the two positions. For all their apparent differences, neither the convergence-promoting nor the divergence-accommodating conception embraces the diversity of transnational law as an unalloyed good, just as proponents of both conceptions would readily accept that there are profound practical and ethical limits to any attempt to eliminate the diversity of transnational law.