The Concept of International Delegation

34 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2006

See all articles by Curtis Bradley

Curtis Bradley

Duke University School of Law

Judith G. Kelley

Duke University - Trinity College of Arts & Sciences


This article defines and clarifies the concept of international delegation from both a legal and social science perspective. An international delegation, the article explains, involves a grant of authority by two or more states to an international body to make decisions or take actions. After defending this definition, the article describes the types of international bodies to which states may grant authority. To capture the multilayered nature of international delegation, the article considers grants of authority not only to bureaucracies, but also to collective bodies, sub-groups of states, and courts. The article then identifies eight types of authority that states may grant: legislative, adjudicative, regulatory, monitoring and enforcement, agenda-setting, research and advice, policy implementation, and re-delegation. Next, the article discusses how the extent of an international delegation can vary depending on its legal effect and the degree of independence of the international body. The article then considers some of the benefits and costs of international delegation in light of this typology. The article concludes with a discussion of some of the questions raised by the typology and its implications for further research.

Keywords: delegation, international organizations, sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Bradley, Curtis and Kelley, Judith Green, The Concept of International Delegation. Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming; Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 141. Available at SSRN:

Curtis Bradley (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Judith Green Kelley

Duke University - Trinity College of Arts & Sciences ( email )

Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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