The heart of a judicial component of a governance system is what happens when a person or an institution acts in violation of an agreed law, regulation, or rule; when two parties differ over how to carry out an agreement; and what special steps need to be taken to get discretionary state approval. In common law terms, a judicial system normally has a criminal justice component, a civil law component and an administrative law component. To implement these functions at the national level, a system of courts, judges, lawyers, and juries examines the facts, interpret the legal standards, and make judgments. The outcome of a judicial system is generally backed up by the policing power of the nation-state.
When the UN was established, the post-WWII victorious states knew that they needed an institution that could compel actions when other states chose to threaten or act militarily against another state. In the United Nations Charter, the Security Council’s decisions are the only ones that are obligatory on all member states. 1
Today, a global governance system needs a set of institutional arrangements to manage a wider array of conflicts. These conflicts range from economic conflicts over land and water to commercial conflicts over genetic resources and from environmental disputes to human rights challenges.
This section identifies the key elements of the formal intergovernmental juridical system and its complementary de facto system, largely within the corporate sphere. It then summarizes the changes that GRI recommends for the rule of international law and concludes with a brief list of global rule of law matters that were not discussed in the GRI report.
The official judicial functions of the current international system can be seen as having:
The de facto juridical system consists principally of:
There are many different types of civil society institutions involved in quasi-judicial international functions. These include:
This section continues with Options for the Future.
The Readers' Guide welcomes commentary – critical or otherwise – of the categorization and descriptions above as well as the identification of related issues and case studies.