Comparate Law systems

Intercultural norms and profiles of law


One of the prestigious acknowledgments given to Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement and of the IUS, was that received by her in 1998 by the European Council: the European Award for the Rights of Man. Those who have had the chance to read her acceptance speech, will remember having met with the citation in the text of the first article of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man adopted by the general assembly of the United Nations on Dec. 10th, 1948 which cites: «All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are gifted with reason and a conscience and must act one towards the other in a spirit of fraternity».


The strong emphasis to universal fraternity, underlined also by the acknowledgement of human rights is offered as a framework to the new program taught at the IUS of “Comparative Judicial systems,” oriented towards deepening the awareness on the function of norms and judicial systems as a service in building life in common.


The contents of the lessons constitute one of two course modules (6 ECTS) of “Rights of the International Community,” Entrusted to Professor Vincenzo Buonomo – who is also dean of the   Faculty of Civil Law at the Pontifical Lateran University – and to Dr. Sergio Barbaro – who is Dr. of research in Comparative Private Law -, according to an article which is being put forth this year for the first time. The first module, for the months of February and March, aims to introduce the students to the basic principles of law and to the study of the fundamental characteristics of judicial systems belonging to different traditions. 


To be explored are not only the main western judicial dimensions, but also oriental and indigenous ones.  By the acquisition and the deepening of knowledge and juridical structure of a State, in fact, what one wishes to offer is a bigger space for dialogue and exchanges between cultures, often felt to be distant and different realities.



The first part of the course brought to the fore the goals of comparative law; the concept of the judicial system, of juridical norms and hierarchy of sources; the transplants and circulation of comparative macro-micro models. The second part of the course is to go in-depth on the relationship between civil law and common law, the differences and convergences between the two traditions and their historical, social, and juridical evolution. The third part offers a cross section of non Western juridical traditions too often left out in European academic study programs: starting from the study of the juridical tradition of the indigenous peoples (with particular reference to the environment, time, and property), continuing with the study of foundations of Muslim law  and, in particular, of the sources of Shari’a law; the role of the qadì and of the mufti is also advanced, as is the tracing of the right of the Muslim family, of property in Sharia, Muslim banks, and the prohibition of the riba.


Although minimally mentioned, it was possible to open another important window, that of the foundations in Hindu law, on the relationship between dharma and karma, on the caste system, on the results of the English colonization and the Anglo-Hindu, up to the Indian constitution. Lastly, the course offered some points also on Japanese and Chinese law, bringing the students closer to the Confucian philosophy and to the and the Fa, to the colonial period, and to processes of codification, to the advent of communism in China and to the constitutionalism of Japan.


“I was struck by the participation on the part of many students from various countries – describes Sergio Barbaro, at the end of the lessons –, young people full of interest for law, a new area which, with its specific statute, is brought forward to enrich the wide, inter-disciplinarian scope of the IUS’s formation. I am convinced that the comparative study of laws and norms is an indispensable instrument for the growth of cognition of our common belonging to the human family.”



Bibliography of references:


• P. Glenn, Tradizioni giuridiche del mondo. La sostenibilità della differenza, Bologna 2011.

• V. Varano, V. Barsotti, La tradizione giuridica occidentale, vol. I, Torino 2010.

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