International Law and Global Public Goods in a Legal Pluralist World
Gregory C. Shaffer, International Law and Global Public Goods in a Legal Pluralist World, 23 Eur. J. Int'l L. 669 (2012).
The world faces multiple challenges in producing global public goods, such as climate change mitigation, financial stability, security from nuclear terror, knowledge production, and the eradication of infectious diseases. International law scholarship, in the meantime, takes a turn towards celebrating pluralism without sufficiently accounting for institutional variation to address different contexts. Those writing on global public goods challenges, at the same time, tend to come from disciplines other than law. So what is international law’s role in the production of global public goods? Where are greater international legal constraints and international institutions needed, and where should international law retain slack? Three analytic frameworks (global constitutionalism, global administrative law, and legal pluralism) have been advanced to address international law’s place in global governance, but these frameworks have not explicitly addressed the challenges of producing global public goods. This article breaks down different types of global public goods, and explores how these different frames apply to them. Grounded in pragmatism, the article shows why there is no single best approach. Rather, legal policy should be tailored to the type of global public good at stake in light of comparative, real world, institutional trade-offs.