Why and How to Study ‘Transnational’ Law

Carrie Menkel-Meadow, UC Irvine School of Law


All of these scenarios are based on events which have actually occurred in recent years. Some directly involve American citizens (whether individuals, corporations, or other entities) and some do not. Some are situations or problems that affect only private parties; others include state actors or affect the implementation of government policies or laws of various nations. Some of these situations involve individual or group efforts, across borders, to engage in profit- seeking activities. Others involve poverty reduction, economic aid, or other improvement of the human condition, whether material or cultural. Some of this activity involves economic and business interests (formerly thought of as primarily “private” interests). Others of these situations involve human rights claims derived from legal undertakings or treaties that transcend national boundaries but are initially often a matter of “state” action (e.g., signing an international or regional treaty). Some of these situations involve both state and private action on the same issue or site. Many of these situations involve multiple legal jurisdictions including local, federal (state or provincial), national, regional, and international levels of possible regulation or dispute resolution. Some involve cultural differences, but violations of cultural norms or taboos may also have legal implications. All of these situations invoke legal issues that transcend legal (or sovereign) boundaries. This is the modern world of human activity, facilitated, regulated, sometimes thwarted, and often affected, by laws that “cross borders” in order to effectuate their purposes.