Pyramid of Global Law

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The New Pyramid of Global Law

Rafael Domingo is Professor of Law at the University of Navarra School of Law and Director of the Maiestas Institute.

Abstract: Following the traditional example of the so-called Kelsen pyramid, the author proposes a new kind of legal pyramid, integrating the incipient concept of global law, which has superseded international law. At the top rests the human person, from which all law ultimately arises (ius ex persona oritur). The base of the pyramid, heptagonal in shape, would be made up of that same humanity, organized as a function of an “anthroparchy.” The pyramid’s seven sides correspond to the seven formative principles of law: justice, rationality, coercion, universality, solidarity, subsidiarity, and horizontality. The three-dimensionality of the legal pyramid, a polyhedron, is reflected in the law’s individual, social, and universal dimensions. The last of these corresponds to global law.

Contents: 1. - The Pyramid’s Structure. 2. - Legal Three-Dimensionality. 3. - The Person, at the Peak of the Legal Pyramid. 4. - Humanity, the Pyramid’s Base. 5. - The Pyramid’s Seven Faces. A. -Principle of Justice. B. - Principle of Rationality. C. - Principle of Coercion. D. - Principle of Universality. E. - Principle of Solidarity. F. - Principle of Subsidiarity. G. - Principle of Horizontality.

A globalized world requires global law, just as a well-organized political community needs constitutional law, or a company, business law. Globalization is an indisputable fact, with all its advantages and drawbacks. Global law, on the other hand, is still in its infancy. Global law is often discussed, but little is known about it. It is like a fashion that has not yet stood the test of time. It seems that everything legal is supposed to be global, just as, years ago, everything was supposed to be “environmental” or “fat free.” Some think that global law is just international law finessed to obscure the fact that international law, as its name indicates, is law among independent states, while global law is by nature interdependent. In what follows, I will illustrate the position that I believe global law should occupy in the theoretical framework of the law. To that end, I will make use of the familiar image of the pyramid, as global law is not something superimposed on legal regulations, nor is it a sort of unsightly bulge or swelling out appearing in the middle of the law’s hierarchical structure. It is quite the opposite. To speak of global law is to speak of harmony, of balance, of synthesis. Thus, we must approach global law from the law itself, since the former is nothing but a further outgrowth of law insofar as it refers to relationships of justice that affect humanity as a whole.

1.The Pyramid’s Structure

The famous normative pyramid of Hans Kelsen, perhaps the most relevant jurist of 20th century, has already passed into the annals of legal history. Although he himself never referred to it, what is certain is that the Prague jurist conceived of laws as forming a hierarchical framework or structure (Stufenbau der Rechtsordnung), in which each inferior norm finds its justification or basis in a superior one, until the vertex is reached, that of the fundamental norm (Grundnorm), which gives validity and unity to the entire legal order. It should come as no surprise, then, that this pyramidal image pervaded the Vienna School that he founded and has been used to explain his complex, ever-evolving thought. It is enough to consider the first (1934) and second (1960) German editions of his Reine Rechtslehre, or to compare both of them with his English version General Theory of Law and State (1945), or his posthumous work Allgemeine Theorie der Normen (1979). Because, if anything can be said about Hans Kelsen, it is that he was a deep and original thinker, one who submitted all his own ideas to constant review and revision, in part because of his non-conformist character, but also in the...
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