“Jurisdiction Unbound: (Extra)territorial Regulation as Global Governance” now out

Good summer news – my piece “Jurisdiction Unbound: (Extra)territorial Regulation as Global Governance” is out in the European Journal of International Law (in advance view and open access!). It traces how unilateral exercises of jurisdiction by a few countries generate oligarchical global governance and how this affects how we should conceptualize the legal and normative problems that arise from it. You can access the piece here, the abstract is below. Also out is Roger O’Keefe’s insightful comment (here). We don’t disagree on the law as much as on its consequences – Roger is right that ‘unbound’ jurisdiction does not necessarily lead to domination, but it makes it likely in a context of stark economic inequality. My (more detailed) response to him will appear at some point on EJILTalk!.

The piece is the fruit of the PATHS project, hosted by the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Global Governance Centre and generously funded by the European Research Council. It has also benefited from comments from many colleagues, especially at the Vienna conference of the German Society of International Law.

Abstract: The international law of jurisdiction is faced with far-reaching changes in the context of a globalizing world, but its general orientation, centred on territoriality as the guiding principle, has remained stable for a long time. This article traces how, in contrast to the prevailing rhetoric of continuity, core categories of jurisdiction have been transformed in recent decades in such a way as to generate an ‘unbound’ jurisdiction, especially when it comes to the regulation of global business activities. The result is a jurisdictional assemblage – an assemblage in which a multiplicity of states have wide and overlapping jurisdictional claims, creating a situation in which, in practice, a few powerful countries wield the capacity to set and implement the rules. Jurisdiction is thus misunderstood if framed as an issue of horizontal relations among sovereign equals but should rather be regarded as a structure of global governance through which (some) states govern transboundary markets. Using a governance prism, this article argues, can help us to gain a clearer view of the normative challenges raised by the exercise of unbound jurisdiction, and it shifts the focus to the accountability mechanisms required to protect public accountability and self-government in weaker states.