New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



Forthcoming, Winter 2007 Issue of the Wisconsin International Law Journal


The World Trade Organization has encouraged harmonization of domestic regulatory standards and policy in order to promote further liberalization of international trade. This harmonization agenda has come under sharp attack from critics arguing that it will result in a regulatory race to the bottom while eroding the opportunity of ordinary stakeholders to participate in the regulatory process. Despite the speculation, little is known about the actual impact that harmonization activities have on domestic regulatory law and policy. This paper offers the first systematic analysis of the impact that harmonization activities have had on domestic US regulatory policy. Finding that international regulatory activities, in particular the domestic use of international standards and mutual recognition agreements have had an impact on US administrative law and policy, the paper analyzes whether the internationalization of regulatory policy has also adversely impacted the ability of public stakeholders to participate in the regulatory process. Concluding that the internationalization of regulation has undermined public participation in regulation and administration, and threatens to return the United States to the regulatory environment that existed prior to the Ralph Nader-led participatory revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the paper concludes by offering a few potential solutions to the legitimacy crisis facing international regulation.

Date of Authorship for this Version

July 2006