International Legal Control of Domestic Administrative Action

34 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2014 Last revised: 5 Feb 2014

See all articles by Joel P. Trachtman

Joel P. Trachtman

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Date Written: January 28, 2014


International law increasingly is designed to constrain the regulatory activities of countries where these activities have external effects on other countries. While countries retain the right to regulate, it is a qualified right, with a number of restrictions under international trade, investment, finance, human rights, and other areas of international law. The restrictions are often nuanced: while maintaining maximum policy autonomy, countries agree to international legal rules that establish increasingly complex preconditions for national regulatory action. In some cases, preconditions are formulated so as to establish procedural, as distinguished from substantive, predicates for national action. These varying types of preconditions are often designed to be met through determinations and procedures of domestic administrative agencies, and so they form a particular variety of global administrative law: they are means by which international law harnesses and guides national administrative decision-making in order to take into account the concerns of foreign countries. This article examines how these methods are used in several important examples of international legal control of domestic administrative processes, and develops a set of hypotheses regarding the circumstances under which these respective mechanisms would be used by countries.

Keywords: global administrative law, WTO, international law, international trade law, administrative law

JEL Classification: F02, F10, K23, K33, F15, L51

Suggested Citation

Trachtman, Joel P., International Legal Control of Domestic Administrative Action (January 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Joel P. Trachtman (Contact Author)

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy ( email )

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