C. Raj Kumar on the Globalization of Law

We must empower the preexisting international institutions and make them more effective, says C. Raj Kumar.
  • Transcript


Question: Do you anticipate the global integration of international law? Kumar: Well, I mean, I think the very question clearly suggest that we obviously need to have one, because there is so much of common threads that bring us all together as people, and I cannot think of any better institution than the United Nations, which is the single most important institution which can actually bring us together. Now, unfortunately, the role of United Nations and its effectiveness has been undermined in the last few several decades, and so we obviously have to commit ourselves to UN reform. But if you look at the role of international law in the UN context and outside the UN context, its role has not been completely negated. If you look at, for example, the significant developments that have taken place in the field of international trade law and the acceptance of the WTO law and the World Trade Organization as a single important institution and the appellate body of the World Trade Organization, in some ways, passing judgments about the decisions of sovereign countries. So sovereignty, in some ways, has been indeed successfully undermined when it comes to WTO and international trade law. Now where there is still resistance, as far as countries are concerned, is when it comes to, for example, issues relating to international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and, to some extent, broader issues relating to public international law. So the point here is that states, I mean, always look at their personal, their interest, and when that, when these interests are largely commercial in nature, in the context of trade law or intellectual property law, there is little resistance on the part of the states to subject themselves to an international tribunal in the form of a WTO appellate body. But when it comes to human rights issues or other issues which I just mentioned, there is still resistance. So I think, in the years to come, states will become much more confident about themselves, about their actions, and should also be responsible about their actions and should be mindful of the fact that there are these international institutions, in the form of the United Nations and the bodies under the United Nations, be it the international… all the bodies, whether the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, in the human rights field, the Human Rights Council. There are a number of international bodies already in existence. Now we have to empower these institutions better so that they are more effective in the years to come. There is, I don’t see any reason for us to, in some ways, reinvent the wheel, we just have to make the wheel work better. It’s actually worked pretty well, because we’ve not had a 3rd World War, you know, which would have been catastrophic for the whole world, and we’ve had a number of atrocities and violations and problems that have taken place, and global challenges have to be met globally. For example, the climate-change issue. Now, increasingly, climate change is a problem, which… And global warming cannot be solved by individual countries acting alone, and we need legal and regulatory policy, environmental and a number of other issues that need to be brought together through a multi-lateral process, and only a UN-type organization under its umbrella can be effective for this.