37 NYU Journal of International Law and Politics (2005)

The Global Regulatory Challenge to U.S. Administrative Law

Richard B. Stewart

Read PDFRead PDF
The shift of regulatory decisionmaking from domestic to global presents a profound challenge to the systems of administrative law that the United States and other nations rely upon to secure the accountability of the administrative state. In response to the growth of worldwide economic and other inter-dependency, the past twenty-five years have witnessed a dramatic shift of regulatory authority from the nation state to a dizzying variety of global regulatory regimes, including inter- national organizations, transnational networks of national regulatory officials, and private or hybrid private-public regulatory bodies. As a result, domestic systems of administrative accountability through law are being increasingly sidestepped. Global regimes not subject to these domestic disciplines adopt regulatory norms that are then implemented through domestic regulation. The global regulatory decisions also escape accountability through international law mechanisms of state consent through treaties because they are often adopted by administrative bodies that operate below or outside the treaty system. The globalization of regulation has dissolved what were once firm distinctions between decisionmaking at the international and at the domestic levels. The resulting accountability gaps have stimulated loud criticisms by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), politicians, and the media in the United States and elsewhere that global regulation has been captured by the powerful, to the detriment of environmental, consumer, labor, and other social interests with a resultant weakening of domestic regulatory protections.