Editorials | Volume 24 (2023)

Editorial | Volume 24 No. 7

We are delighted to bring you this latest collection, which is an outstanding showcase of the breadth of exciting and important scholarship being published in the GLJ.

This issue opens with a bold idea: the establishment of a ‘World Citizens’ Initiative’ as a means by which individuals would be able directly to ‘influence the agenda of the primary organs of the United Nations’. Ben Murphy and James Organ engage here with the burgeoning discourse on global participatory democracy and consider both the feasibility and merit of establishing and embedding such an initiative for effective citizen participation within the institutional architecture of the UN.

The argument in Marco Dani’s article is no less bold, as he argues in favor of what he calls a ‘drastic deconstitutionalization of the institutional framework of the Economic and Monetary Union’. Adopting a constitutional theory perspective, Dani points to a misalignment of the purposive EU economic constitution and the more open national constitutional orders and attributes this to a problematically neoliberal evolutionary trajectory. He advocates a return to an open institutional framework and rectification of this neoliberal bias.

Thomas Verellen’s comparative analysis of the EU and the US takes as its focus the allocation of executive power, specifically in the area of unilateral trade policy. He first looks at the operation of executive accountability in the US, paying attention to those flaws that have generated an appetite for reform, then considers, in the EU and in relation to unilateral trade instruments, how it is that executive power is allocated. Noting how ‘growing executive power leads to accountability challenges’, his conclusion argues in favor of better democratic accountability mechanisms.

Karina Theurer’s timely and powerful article considers colonial legacies in international law. Her focus rests on the 2021 German-Namibian Joint Declaration following negotiations on reparations for colonial crimes, and the lawsuit, active in the Namibian High Court, asking that this Joint Declaration be held unlawful. Theurer not only highlights the milestone potential of this suit but also shows how racist exclusion underpinned European colonization, an exclusion that is reproduced in international law’s contemporary practice.

Staying at the level of ‘the international’, Daniel Quiroga-Villamarín invites us to consider its spatial dimension, something he identifies as having been a ‘largely unexplored affair’. Inviting us to embrace the ambiguity of the French word endroit, or ‘place’, Quiroga-Villamarín embarks on an intriguing ‘quest to incorporate materiality and spatiality into international legal history’.

In his article, Lando Kirchmair ponders the issue of how to regulate by law such moral dilemmas involving self-driving cars. With reference to the trailblazing 2021 German Act on Autonomous Driving, and to the famous ‘Trolley Problem’, he points to the need for clear regulation in this area, not least because of the ethical difficulties in establishing, for example, what constitutes an ‘acceptable probability of collision’.

Finally for this issue, Trevor Wan undertakes a global and comparative audit of happiness. Constitutional ‘happiness provisions’, to be exact – those provisions in national constitutions that establish happiness as i) a national objective, ii) a policy paradigm, or iii) (the pursuit thereof as) a human right. Wan explores this ‘constitutionalization of happiness’ through wide-ranging case studies with a view to providing a ‘constitutional account of happiness’.

As always, happy reading,

Jen Hendry

on behalf of the GLJ Editors-in-Chief