Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013

Publication Citation

20 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 629 (2013)


If the point of constitutionalism is to define the legal framework within which collective self-government can legitimately take place, constitutionalism has to take a cosmopolitan turn: it has to occupy itself with the global legitimacy conditions for the exercise of state sovereignty. Contrary to widely made implicit assumptions in constitutional theory and practice, constitutional legitimacy is not self-standing. Whether a national constitution and the political practices authorized by it are legitimate does not depend only on the appropriate democratic quality and rights-respecting nature of domestic legal practices. Instead, national constitutional legitimacy depends, in part, on how the national constitution is integrated into and relates to the wider legal and political world. The drawing of state boundaries and the pursuit of national policies generates justice-sensitive externalities that national law, no matter how democratic, can not claim legitimate authority over. It is the point and purpose of international law to authoritatively address problems of justive-sensitive externalities of state policies. In this way, international law helps create the conditions and defines the domain over which states can legitimately claim sovereignty. States have a standing duty to help create and sustain an international legal system that is equipped to fulfill that function. Only a cosmopolitan state-a state that incorporates and reflects the global legitimacy conditions for claims to sovereignty in its constitutional structure and foreign policy-is a legitimate state.

Transnational Societal Constitutionalism Symposium, Collegio Carlo Alberto, Turin Italy, May 17-19, 2012