The State of New York Does Exist: How the States Control Compliance with International Law

74 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2004

See all articles by Julian Ku

Julian Ku

Hofstra University - School of Law


Although most courts and commentators presume that the states disappear when it comes to foreign relations, states actually play a crucial role in fulfilling U.S. obligations under international law. In many circumstances, state governments are the only institutions responsible for carrying out treaty and customary international law obligations on behalf of the United States. Not only have states always played this role, but state control over the implementation of such obligations is likely to become even more important in the future because the implementation of many private international law and international human rights treaties is controlled by the states. This role for states in controlling compliance with international law calls into question the widely held view that exclusive federal control over foreign relations is required or desirable. This Article suggests state-controlled implementation could actually bolster the development of international law.

Keywords: Federalism, international law, treaties, self execution, foreign relations

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Ku, Julian G., The State of New York Does Exist: How the States Control Compliance with International Law. North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 82, p. 457, 2004. Available at SSRN:

Julian G. Ku (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-4237 (Phone)
516-463-6264 (Fax)

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