Hierarchy, Coordination, or Conflict? Global Law Theories and the Question of Human Rights Integration

Moritz Baumgärtel, Dorothea Staes , Mena Parras Francisco Javier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


One way to address the multilayered architecture of international human rights law is to consider the various theories that have focused on the legal effects of globalisation. Based on a review of nine ‘global law’ theories, this article differentiates between three models of human rights integration. ‘Hierarchical integration’ as found in the theories of neo-naturalism, global constitutionalism, and global administrative law implies the recovery of a global hierarchical legal order. ‘Coordinative integration’ asserts that the most feasible approach to human rights integration is to establish links between the constitutive elements of an irreducible global legal pluralism. Its main proponents are theorists of ordered legal pluralism, neo-institutionalism, and systems theory. Finally, a model of ‘conflictual integration’ has been adopted by pragmatic approaches, critical legal studies, and theories of the Global South. These are sceptical of an imposition of order or coordination and hold that the driving force for the development of human rights law is the antagonistic relation between global actors. Our classification offers a clear and systematic way to deal with these fundamentally different notions of ‘human rights integration’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-354
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Rights = Journal Européen des droits de l'homme
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Human Rights
  • Global Law
  • Integration
  • Fragmentation
  • globalization


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