Chapter in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Wolfrum ed. 2012)

Global Administrative Law

Benedict Kingsbury & Megan Donaldson

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Global administrative law can be understood as comprising the legal rules, principles, and institutional norms applicable to processes of ‘administration’ undertaken in ways that implicate more than purely intra-State structures of legal and political authority. The term ‘global administrative law’ came into use during the first decade of the 21st century. It encompasses most of the subject-matter addressed by jurists in the 19th and 20th centuries under the rubric of ‘international administrative law’ and, like this early work, it proceeds from a view of what constitutes ‘administration’ beyond a purely domestic context, including some activities of national administrative agencies, and many activities of international organizations. But this newer term is preferred to avoid the misleading implication that the field is simply a branch of general international law and thus can be structured in terms of traditional (and now much-contested) criteria for sources of international law and subjects of international law. The variety of actors involved, the fact that many of these actors are primordial rather than exercising authority delegated by States, and the range of persons and processes affected by global administrative actors, make sharp distinctions between spheres of national and international administration increasingly difficult to maintain. Instead, much administration is taking place in what might be thought of as a global administrative space, involving blurring of national and international, and public and private, dimensions.