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Realizing UtopiaThe Future of International Law$
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The Late Antonio Cassese

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691661.001.0001

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The Subjective Dangers of Projects of World Community

The Subjective Dangers of Projects of World Community

(p.3) 1 The Subjective Dangers of Projects of World Community
Realizing Utopia

Martti Koskenniemi

Oxford University Press

One should be careful with those who speak in the name of humanity and try to impose any particular blueprint on the world. Proposals for the legal-institutional architectures for the government of the whole world and other designs may seem appealing when stated in the abstract. However, their concrete realization always involves some distribution of power, and with it, some privileging of preferences and values. Claims to humanity are always infected by the particularity of the speaker, the world of his or her experience, culture and profession, knowledge and ignorance. This chapter argues that a realistic utopia can only begin with the critique of present institutions — the United Nations, the World Bank, the Kyoto Protocol, the operations of large multinational companies, the structures of public law and private ordering that decide on the distribution of material and spiritual values today. It is a mindset and an attitude that seeks to highlight the contingency and contestability of global institutions and their distributionary consequences.

Keywords:   humanity, utopia, power, global institutions

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