Subsidiarity and the Global Order

  • Andreas FollesdalEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 37)


Subsidiarity has been proposed as an answer to the challenges of globalisation and global governance. This chapter addresses some of the strengths and weaknesses of such a principle of subsidiarity for questions of how to allocate and use authority at regional and global levels. The chapter criticises the ‘state centric’ versions of subsidiarity often appealed to for such global settings. In particular, there are several challenges wrought by states that fail to respect their citizens’ human rights, variously interpreted. More defensible versions of subsidiarity do not provide normative legitimacy to the state centric aspects of the global order. Section 11.2 sketches some of the remarkably different conceptions of subsidiarity as a background to the usages in the European Union, the Catholic Church and as it allegedly appears in international law. The different versions drastically reduce or enlarge the scope of member unit authority. Section 11.3 considers some implications for the legitimate allocation of authority in our global order which includes many states that routinely violate their citizens’ fundamental human rights. The function of the European Court of Human Rights offers a helpful contrast.


Althusius Catholicism Liberal Contractualism Sovereignty European Court of Human Rights Global governance International law 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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