The Criminalization of Foreign Relations

51 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2021 Last revised: 17 Nov 2021

Date Written: November 5, 2021


Overcriminalization has rightly generated national condemnation among policymakers, scholars, and practitioners alike. And yet, such scholarship often assumes that the encroachment of criminal justice stops at our borders. This Article argues that our foreign relations are also at risk of overcriminalization due to overzealous prosecution, overreaching legislation, and presidential politicization—and that this may be particularly problematic when U.S. criminal justice supplants certain nonpenal U.S. foreign policies abroad. This Article proposes three key reforms— presidential distancing, prosecutorial integration, and legislative de-escalation—to assure a principled place for criminal justice in foreign relations.

Keywords: Criminal law, Foreign Relations

Suggested Citation

Koh, Steven Arrigg, The Criminalization of Foreign Relations (November 5, 2021). Fordham Law Review, Vol. 90, 2021, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 570, Available at SSRN:

Steven Arrigg Koh (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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