Armin von Bogdandy & Mattias Goldmann
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The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is probably the most prominent signpost for the internationalization of educational policy. It consists in repeated performance assessments of secondary school students in a large number of countries. The ensuing reports and country rankings have become an important factor for educational policy-making in the developed world. PISA owes its impact to a mode of governance which we call “governance by information”. Governance by information affects a given policy field by shaping the cognitive framework through the collection, processing and dissemination of information. International and supranational institutions more and more often take recourse to governance by information.
This article explores the repercussions of governance by information for international law. It rests on the conviction that public international law is essential for legitimizing authoritative international acts which determine policy in a given field. Based on an idea of international public authority that focuses on the social relevance of official acts and their impact on individual liberty, we argue that PISA is an instance of public authority.
As such, PISA needs to be endowed with a public law framework. We conceptualize PISA by choosing an instrumental approach and proposing a doctrinal standard instrument called “National Policy Assessment” that serves as a legal paradigm for governance by information of the type of PISA. We further propose elements of a legal regime of National Policy Assessment addressing i.a. issues of competence and procedure. The legal regime would ensure the legitimacy and effectiveness of National Policy Assessment. It may find a legal basis in international institutional law.