The Domestication of International Commitments

Raustiala, K. (1995). The Domestication of International Commitments. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-95-115

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International commitments generally become binding domestic law through a complex process of "domestication" or transformation. Without this process, international commitments frequently lack force or even meaning at the national level, where implementation actually takes place. This paper explores the legal process of implementation and examines how international commitments are transformed into domestic law in six OECD nations: the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. To the degree that institutional design affects the output of complex organizations (e.g. governments), the variations in the process of domestication should affect compliance with and the implementation of international commitments. The rules of ratification, interpretation, judicial challenge, and the priority or ranking of treaty commitments vis-a-vis ordinary statutory law are all surveyed and found to vary widely. These factors appear to interact in complex ways. In addition to some simple hypotheses derived from the institutional variations uncovered, three main conclusions emerge: formal institutional rules appear in practice to be substantially modified and/or elaborated by informal rules and methods; the complexity of both formal rules and actual practice in the domestication of international agreements raises doubts about the importance--and the ascertainability--of legality regarding international commitments; and, these first two conclusions are likely to become less certain over time as the insulation of the executive in foreign affairs--which is a major underlying cause of these conclusions--decreases in response to changes in the nature and scope of international law.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: International Environmental Commitments (IEC)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:05
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:15

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