The Public Interest

The New International Regulatory Order

Marc F. Plattner

Fall 1984

DURING THE PAST several years, interest in the issue of international regulation has begun to spread beyond the confines of obscure multilateral agencies to a much wider public. The controversy generated by the Reagan administration’s negative votes on the World Health Organization’s infant formula code in 1981 and the UN Law of the Sea Treaty in late 1982 even reached the evening news and the front pages. Congressional concern, stimulated by proposed consumer protection guidelines under consideration by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), resulted in May 1983 hearings on UN regulation by a Senate subcommittee. Executive branch officials with responsibilities in the areas of international economics and international organizations are increasingly finding their time oeeupied by regulatory questions. Multinational corporations, having learned that their operations can be significantly affected by the actions of international agencies, are following these issues with much greater care, often hiring specialized personnel to deal with them. And consumers and other activist groups have been focusing a greater share of their energies on the international level—partly in response to finding a less hospitable climate for new regulatory initiatives at home.

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