Three Essays on the Significance of International Relations Theory for Domestic Institutional Design

Publication Date



This dissertation examines the relationship between the structure of the international system and institutional design in U.S. foreign relations law. The dissertation asks three questions: Should the level of presidential control over foreign relations law vary with changes in the international political environment? Should Congress consider variation in international politics when deciding whether to delegate decision making authority to international institutions? Should variation in the international political environment inform the judiciary's decision to adjudicate legal issues implicating foreign relations? Chapter One addresses the question of how to determine the appropriate level of presidential control over foreign relations. It develops a argues that the failure to account for both internal legal and external constraints (consideration of polarity) might result in levels of presidential control over foreign relations that either does not provide the President with sufficient freedom to pursue U.S. interests (over-constrained), or leaves the President free to act without sufficient oversight (under-constrained). Chapter Two addresses the question about U.S. delegations to international institutions. It is often argued that such delegations should be disfavored because they generate high agency costs due to the institution's lack of accountability to U.S. interests. This Chapter argues that the U.S.'s ability to ensure the accountability of international institutions depends on its position in international politics, the nature of the delegation, and the structure of the institution. Chapter Three applies the framework developed in Chapter One to legal rules within foreign relations law. When the U.S. acts in foreign relations, the political question doctrine suggests that the U.S. should speak with "one voice." Chapter Three argues that the merit of speaking with one voice should vary depending on international political conditions (polarity). It concludes by proposing that the courts adopt a presumption of in favor of speaking in one voice when the U.S. is in a multipolar world but, when the US is a global superpower in a unipolar world, the courts should shift the burden allocation and require the first-mover to show that a one voice presumption is appropriate.


University of Chicago, Division of the Social Sciences, Department of Political Science

Link to University of Chicago’s Library Catalog


Additional Information

Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Chicago, Division of the Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, 2013. Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 74-11(E), Section: A. Advisor: Duncan Snidal

Full text not available in ChicagoUnbound.