The terms “globe” and “world” are used interchangeably in the contemporary discussion about legal globalizations. So, for example, the WTO’s webpage dedicated to explaining what the organization is about kicks off as follows: ‘The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations’. There is nothing wrong with this, linguistically speaking; we commonly view and use these terms as synonymous: global law and world law mean the same thing, even though, in English, the former expression has obtained broad currency, whereas the latter hasn’t. The problems begin when globe and world are used in a way that suggests that global legal orders such as the WTO have no outside, an illusion that massive contestation of the WTO has dispelled. No less importantly, contestation of the WTO rallies to the call “another world is possible.” This state of affairs points to a fundamental category distinction introduced by phenomenological philosophy: the globe is a very large thing; a world is not a thing: it is a plexus of meaning relations that manifests itself as such from a first-person perspective, both singular and plural. My contribution to the STIAS project is to write and present a paper that offers the contours of a phenomenology of legal order that adumbrates the nature of the relation between law and world and considers, in a tentative fashion, how this relation impinges on the concept of legal authority in a global context.
This project forms part of the STIAS long-term project Boundaries and Legal Authority in a Global context within the Crossing Borders research theme.