Two faces of 'international administrative law

Author:Jakub Handrlica
Two faces of “international administrative law”
Associate professor Jakub HANDRLICA1
The term “international administrative law” (diritto amministrativo
internazionale, droit administratif international, internationales Verwaltungsrecht) remains
an enigma of public law. Since the 1900s, the term has been traditionally understood in two
different ways. On one hand, some authors (J. Gascón y Marín, P. Kazansky, A, Rapisardi-
Mirabelli) used th is term regarding the administrative competencies of those various
“international administrative unions”. On the other hand, oth er authors (P. Fedozzi, K.
Neumeyer, G. Biscottini) used the term to exclusively refer to the norms of national
administrative law, which address certain foreign elements ; i.e. as a parallel to the
discipline of international private law. This article deals with these two different
understandings of “international administrative law” and with their impact for recent
developments in legal scholarship. The article also addresses currently renewed interest in
the “international administrative law” and its consequences for the newly established
doctrine of “global administrative law”.
Keywords: international administrative law, international administrative unions,
law of international organizations, delimiting norms, global administrative law.
JEL Classification: K23, K32
1. Introduction
In international law, the interest of national self-determination is expressed
through the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention. Sovereignty can be
understood in this context as the right of a State to exercise public power
independently of other States. This public power could take the form of legislation
(jurisdiction to prescribe), the issuing of administrative decisions, and the carrying
out of executive measures (jurisdiction to decide). It is only within its territorial
boundaries that the state retains the monopoly of the legitimate use of force. The
principle of sovereignty in this sense means that there is no general duty for the
State to cooperate in administrative matters. The principle of non-intervention
entails a duty of a State to refrain from involving itself in the internal matters of
other States.2
In the context of administrative law, the two principles mean that one
State’s legal rules and decisions lack any legal effect beyond the state boundaries,
i.e. in another State. Traditionally, such views have been linked to ideas of
territoriality, meaning that public law (including administrative law) by the natural
1 Jakub Handrlica associate professor of administrative law, Law Faculty, Charles University in
Prague, Czech Republic,
2 P. Fedozzi, Il Diritto Amministrativo Internazionale: Nozioni Sistematiche, Unione Tipografica
Cooperativa, Perugia, 1901, pp. 10-12.

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