Conferencia Profesora Evelyne Lagrange sobre «Power in motion in times of global governance. Considering the possible role of some international norms as constitutional norms».

abril 14, 2023

El próximo viernes 21 de abril tendremos un seminario con la profesora Evelyne Lagrange, catedrática de derecho público de la Universidad París I, La Sorbonne y también profesora invitada en la Facultad de Derecho de la UAM. En el seminario la profesora Lagrange presentará una investigación en curso sobre Power in motion in times of global governance. Considering the possible role of some international norms as constitutional norms. El seminario tendrá lugar en el Aula Díez-Picazo del edificio de Ciencias Jurídicas, Políticas y Económicas de la Facultad de Derecho el viernes 21 de abril a las 11:30 horas. El seminario será en inglés y a continuación pueden encontrar un resumen del proyecto que será objeto de análisis.

Power in motion in times of global governance. Considering the possible role of some international norms as constitutional norms 

Evelyne Lagrange, Professor of Public law, Sorbonne Law School, IREDIES, University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne 

Abstract of the research project 

«Power in motion. Circulation and refoundation of power in the global era: the role of international law» is a research project initiated in 2021 within the framework of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Aix-Marseille University (DICE laboratory). This project is still in progress. 

It starts from the observation that, apart from the so-called international integration organizations, such as the European Union, which form with their member states complex systems of public authority that are well known, three major phenomena affect the power of the state and more generally of public authorities (including international institutions) in an era of «internationalized governance»: 

– the exercise of state powers usually produces, in law or in fact, effects far beyond national borders, whether on the environment, on companies with transnational activities or on the fundamental rights of private persons (whether mobile or not); 

– the power of public authorities is usually exercised in connection with, and often in competition with, other national or international institutions, and increasingly with private entities, rather than in isolation; 

– in many areas, each public authority is a link or a cog in a complex process of establishing and implementing norms, not all of which are formally binding but which objectively determine the conduct of other matters. 

These developments accelerated from the beginning of the 1990s and accompanied the spread of the liberal paradigm, to which international organizations, particularly those of the United Nations system, contributed greatly. 

The phenomenon did not remain unnoticed in doctrine. Disrupting the dominant conception of the international system, which remained Westphalian, dualist and voluntarist, but also the disciplinary boundaries, new paradigms have emerged to account for both the renewal of the objects and modes of formation and objects of law (more generally, of normativity), and the mutation of international institutions: substitution of the notion of governance for that of government; transgovernmentalism (A.-M. Slaughter); reasoning in terms of regulation and normative process rather than in terms of concentration of power to impose behavior through unilateral acts; identification of a set of general principles applicable to international institutions; and the development of a new approach to international law; reasoning in terms of regulation and normative process rather than in terms of concentration of power to impose behavior through unilateral acts; identification of a set of general principles applicable to institutions of all kinds (Global Administrative Law (GAL), B. Kingsbury, S. Cassese); identification of the principles and springs of a global constitutionalism, sometimes envisaged as «compensatory» (A. Peters), in a context of essentially «upward» mobility of power. Each of these approaches is, to varying degrees, tense between analysis, criticism and prescription, and each has contributed to highlighting the «blind spots» of public international law in the classical inter-state conception. They have sometimes had an effect in practice and have sometimes helped to partially fill certain gaps. Internationalized governance itself and these different approaches are likely to be shaken by the radical criticisms developed in particular in the TWAILS movement (B.S. Chimni). 

The approaches listed above are often less interested in the processes by which the translation of power takes place than in its submission, once a power has been constituted, to the requirements of constitutionalism or global administrative law, or again, in the beneficiaries and losers of this redistribution of power. The State is frequently relegated to the category of losers, as if the erosion of sovereignty were inescapable, whether one deplores it or rejoices in it. 

Under the benefit of the teachings of these different schools and of works of political science, but also of the research conducted by A. von Bogdandy on «public authority», the research project «power in motion” or “on the move» takes a slightly different path. It does not aim to identify «what remains of the State» or «what remains for the State» or to restore the State sovereignty. Rather, it is first and foremost a matter of making the channels through which power flows to the stage of implementation better known in a context of institutional entanglement. Indeed, not all the channels of power are formalized and codified. Powers duly instituted in law and de facto powers, controlled «delegations» and uncontrolled «delegations» coexist. Secondly, it is a question of trying to reconstitute the charter of power in the global era, which no longer fits entirely into national constitutions, possibly augmented by treaties concluded by the State. 

The political stakes are obvious. The difficulty in understanding how and by whom major environmental, economic and social policy issues are arbitrated affects citizens: citizens of «constitutional pluralist democracies» who, in a phase of so-called «democratic deconsolidation», are tempted by strategies of re-concentration of power in reterritorialized national institutions; citizens who, while living in a weak (rule of law) state, are indeed subject to instances of power «beyond the state» that are poorly identified and often remote. 

One of the academic challenges is to correct certain biases in the presentation of power as it is exercised today due to the persistence of disciplinary divisions – at least in France – between public international law and constitutional law in particular. To do this, it is necessary to agree on concepts, categories and vocabulary that allow us to follow the circulation of power and to trace the different frameworks in which the State is embedded. 

To this end, the research project «Power in Motion» proposes to focus on norms that, without being formally constitutional (i.e., enshrined in a national constitution or the constitutive act of an international organization considered as the fundamental norm of their respective legal system), found, empower and articulate instances of power within and outside the State. In other words, to focus on norms that fulfil a constitutional function in the sense of organizing power. The category «constitutional rules» can indeed be understood in the very broad sense of rules relating to the constitution of power, whatever form it takes (see Champeil-Desplats), and thus to the institution, delimitation, transfer, coordination or hierarchization of power. Different sets of international norms fulfill such a function: this is the part of international law in the circulation and foundation of power in the global era. 

The perspective adopted is first analytical, then critical of certain discourses and practices that distort the chains of legitimization and dilute the controls that can be exercised over public authorities or their delegates, and finally prospective, with proposals for pragmatic institutional reforms. 

This work in progress partially builds on previous publications that are listed here: 

On-line publications: with E. Castellarin et P. Palchetti (coord.), Multilatérisme et gouvernance globale, Livre blanc ILA-2023, septembre 2022 (français / anglais) : https://www.ilaparis2023.org/en/white-paper/global-governance-multilateralism/; E. Lagrange, « Constitution, constitutionnalisation, constitutionnalisme globaux – et la compétence dans tout cela ? », Jus Politicum, Juillet 2018, n° 20 — http://juspoliticum.com/article/Constitution-constitutionnalisation-constitutionnalisme-globaux-et-la-competence-dans-tout-cela-1246.html; « L’accord Ceta est-il compatible avec la Constitution française ? », The Conversation, env. 2700 signes — https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01755120/document. 

Printed: E. LAGRANGE, J.-M. SOREL (dir.), Traité de droit des organisations internationales, L.G.D.J./Lextenso, déc. 2013, 1198 p. ; E. LAGRANGE, « Les relations entre les organisations internationales», in Actes du XIXème colloque de la Société italienne de droit international, Courmayeur, Il Futuro delle Organizzazioni internazionali, prospettive giuridiche. L’avenir des organisations internationales, perspectives juridiques, Editoriale Scientifica, 2015, pp. 131-166 ; « L’État et les puissances privées. Digressions sur la compétence plénière de l’État et ‘l’autonomie du mouvement sportif’ », in Les limites du droit international. Mélanges en l’honneur de Joe Verhoeven, Larcier, 2014, pp. 183-204 ; « L’efficacité dans l’ordre juridique interne des normes internationales concernant la situation des personnes privées », Recueil des cours de l’Académie de droit international de La Haye, Nijhoff, vol. 356, 2012, pp. 243-552; « Les titres de compétence », in SFDI, colloque de Rennes, Les compétences de l’Etat en droit international, Paris, Pedone, 2006, pp. 97-132. 

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