Three Conceptions of Global Political Justice
Erik Oddvar Eriksen
The concept of global justice implies that there are principles of justice with a global reach – that is, that the conditions of justice have been globalised in one way or another. Reconsidering European Contributions to Global Justice (GLOBUS) investigates the concept of justice that characterises the EU’s external activities: justice as non-domination, as impartiality, or as mutual recognition. In this paper, these ‘reasonable’ conceptions of justice, which may be seen to complement each other, are outlined and assessed. They all entail serious limitations with regard to the requirements of justice at the global level. Justice as non-domination demands the social status of being relatively proof against arbitrary interference by others. Here, justice involves avoiding harm and establishing a fair system of (network) governance within the constraints of international law. But under such a system, how can we ensure compliance and legal certainty? According to justice as impartiality, preventing dominance through strong institutions is necessary for the equal protection of human rights. Law-based orders are required to banish dominance, also in external relations. However, in this scheme, who would be the arbitrator? Justice as mutual recognition calls for deliberation to right wrongs, prioritising the significance of belonging and respect for diversity in the resolution of matters of justice. Misrecognition or lack of recognition can also affect an individual’s political status and may amount to dominance. But how can we guarantee parity of recognition without enforceable rights, and how can we promise justice without sanctioning non-compliance?
This paper was first published as GLOBUS Research Paper 1/2016.