By Paxton Marshall
On September 30, 2015 Professor Kingsley Moghalu was kind enough to present at the first LLM formal luncheon of the year. His subject was “Global Justice,” exploring the revolutionary societal and legal build-up to the “end of history” moments in the early and mid-1990s regarding sovereign concessions to universal jurisdiction, with the creation of the ICC and the creation of the international war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, before then exploring the unexpected reality that such efforts have largely stalled since the terrorist attacks of 2001.
He described the tension between globalization of jurisdiction and national sovereignty as being the primary continuing influence preventing further movement towards global justice, and observed that the nature of international justice is inherently political and as such imposes severe limits on efforts to impose a truly global justice system. Professor Moghalu noted that his doctoral research and dissertation enabled him to come to the conclusion that it is the intersection between international law and international relations that is critical to furthering this discussion. For example, International justice is assumed to be the mechanism for the establishment of peace and so is innately political, and as such the assumption would seem to be that impartiality and equality are to be applied when International Justice is evoked. However, this is often at odds with reality. Here we again return to the primary theme of the talk: the tension between globalization and sovereignty, between cosmopolitan justice and domestic legal hierarchy, and between internal and external selectivity.
Professor Moghalu spent some time explaining the nuanced implication of describing the world community as a “cosmopolitan” world society, rather than an international society or international community, emphasizing the very real role of normative rules and the impact that the absence of a common sovereign or government has on the formation of a truly global justice system. Clearly international law matters, but the lecture made it clear that it is still not the dominant factor in world politics, which still largely reflects a hierarchy of power and the often insidious effect of national peer pressure. Next, the decline in power of the ICC was explored, primarily its legitimacy problems after its over-activity and frustrations in the African sphere. Professor Moghalu concluded by suggesting that, at this time, there should be a preference for the development of regional justice with real legislation and enforcement mechanisms available until nation states have matured to the point that their perspectives becomes more cosmopolitan, perhaps even global. He suggested this might be accomplished through a gradual widespread understanding and acceptance of basic international justice legal norms and normative legal principles based on equality and justice, and not distorted by individual state’s exertion of national power and their narrow nationalistic political considerations.
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