The Pluralism of Global Administrative Law

37 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2008 Last revised: 4 Oct 2013

See all articles by Nico Krisch

Nico Krisch

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies; Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals - IBEI

Date Written: January 15, 2006


As public power is increasingly exercised in structures of global governance, principles of domestic law and politics are extended to the global level, with serious repercussions for the structure of international law. Yet, as this article seeks to show for the emerging global administrative law, this extension is often problematic. Using administrative law mechanisms to enhance the accountability of global regulation faces the problem of fundamental contestation over the question of to whom global governance should be accountable. National, international and cosmopolitan constituencies are competing for primacy, and this results in an often disorderly interplay of accountability mechanisms at different levels and in different regimes. This pluralist structure, based on pragmatic accommodation rather than clear decisions, strongly contrasts with the ideals of coherence and unity in modern constitutionalism and domestic administrative law. However, given the structure of global society, it is likely to endure and it is also normatively preferable to alternative, constitutionalist approaches. It helps avoid the friction that may result from a federal-type distribution of powers and the practical problems of a consociational order, and by denying all constituencies primacy it reflects the legitimacy deficits of each of them. Mirroring divergent views on the right scope of the political order, it also respects everybody`s equal right to political participation. A pluralist global administrative law thus presents an alternative to problematic domestic models for ensuring accountability in the circumstances of global governance.

Suggested Citation

Krisch, Nico, The Pluralism of Global Administrative Law (January 15, 2006). This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version, European Journal of International Law 17 (2006), 247-278, Available at SSRN:

Nico Krisch (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies ( email )

PO Box 136
Geneva, CH-1211


Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals - IBEI ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005

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