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Book Chapter

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International lawyers widely understand that legal pluralism is a fact of global life and that it can, in certain settings, be desirable. But many still approach it with some trepidation. A prominent skeptical claim is that pluralist structures lack the integrative resources that unify people around a shared governance project. This claim has been prominent with respect to two kinds of conflicts that are routine in international law: (1) conflicts that play out within a single international legal arrangement, and (2) conflicts that cut across multiple legal arrangements. For both, the skeptical claim is directed at the pluralist structure itself. The stated problem — the thing that is thought to disintegrate the association—is that competing legal positions are not reconciled or resolved but allowed to coexist, fester, and repeatedly reappear.

This chapter uses the historic experience of the World Trade Organization to challenge that claim. Although other scholars have already argued that the claim is overdrawn, Professor Hakimi contests its central premise. She argues that ineradicable governance conflicts are not necessarily dissociative for a political community—meaning the group of people who partake in a given governance project. Creating space for people to have these conflicts in relatively constructive ways can instead be productive for the group. It is a way for them to participate together and invest in the joint enterprise, despite their many disagreements, and thus to preserve the enterprise as a going concern that binds them.


Jurisprudence | Law | Law and Philosophy