Judicial Globalization

Manila Bulletin, March 18, 2003 | Go to article overview

Judicial Globalization


Byline: Aniano A. Disierto

(Excerpts of a lecture delivered by Supreme Court Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN before the First Australasia Judicial Educators Forum (AJEF) on February 14, 2003 in Makati City.)

I CONGRATULATE the Philippine Judicial Academy (Philja) - led by its eminent chancellor, Madame Justice Ameurfina A. Melencio Herrera - for spearheading the First Australasia Judicial Educators Forum (AJEC). This gathering provides judicial educators from 21 countries a venue for exchanging views and experiences.

Paradigm shifts in law and legal philosophy

The topic assigned to me this morning is "Paradigm Shifts in Law and Changing Philosophical Perspectives." This assignment requires a study of how the gigantic strides in other fields of human knowledge have affected and continue to affect law in general and judicial doctrines in particular.

In turn, I believe that the major transformational shifts in the world have been brought about mainly by the informational and technological revolution unfolding even now as I speak. I refer to computerization, minuterization, digitization, satellite communications, fiber optics and the Internet - all of which, taken together, tend to integrate knowledge on a worldwide scale. This international integration of knowledge, technologies and systems is referred to as globalization.

According to Thomas L. Friedman in his current best seller, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, "[t]he challenge in this era of globalization - for countries and individuals - is to find a healthy balance between preserving a sense of identity, home and community, and doing what it takes to survive within the globalization system." Otherwise stated, the need of the hour is to balance national interest with international survival. And for all of us today, the specific task is to find out how globalization has affected judicial decisionmaking on the national level.

Let me begin with the wellknown caveat that, traditionally, laws and judicial decisions are territorial in scope and are binding only within the country of the issuing authority. This concept flows from the centuries-old view that sovereignty is absolute within a state's boundary. However, the advances of science, the cross-pollination of technology, and the realities of our ever-shrinking world have gradually assaulted this doctrine. A new paradigm has emerged, demanding the universalization of laws and of the judicial rulings interpreting them.

Verily, issues concerning diverse subjects like international trade, banking, intellectual property, immigration, human rights, human dignity and criminal law enforcement have built up a burgeoning literature on the subject of judicial globalization. One of the leading academics in this field, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter of Harvard Law School, says that modern judges should "see one another not only as servants or even representatives of a particular government or party, but as fellow professionals in a profession that transcends national borders" Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube of the Supreme Court of Canada - in a speech before the "First International Conversation on Enviro-Genetics Disputes and Issues" sponsored by the Einstein Institute for Science, Health and the Courts (EINSHAC) and held in Kona, Hawaii on July 1, 2001 - opined that it is "no longer appropriate to speak of the impact or influence of certain courts on other countries but rather of the place of all courts in the global dialogue on human rights and other common legal questions."

The need for international judicial cooperation

Judicial globalization, sometimes referred to as "world constitutionalism" or more simply as "international judicial cooperation," is necessitated by the basic similarities of issues facing many courts all over the world at present. Because of advances in communications, information is now more easily transmitted across borders. …

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