Previously posted on SSRN.


Imagine a future in which the U.S. government has closed the postal service, shuttered its administrative apparatus, and stopped funding education. Confirmation battles have dismantled the federal judiciary, with most adjudication now performed by private arbitrators. After years of erosion of public standards, corporate environmental and labor practices are now left to voluntary self-regulation and market pressures. Private military and security companies command and regulate a vast military infrastructure, executing contracts to meet U.S. intelligence and defense requirements. Prisons have been fully privatized. After losing faith in elections, the U.S. populace no longer insists on them. The country is administered by a small cadre of officials whose job mainly involves negotiating and monitoring contracts with the many private companies that run the shop.

The vision may be dystopian. Is it also illegal under international law?

This is the essential question Frédéric Mégret takes up in “Are There ‘Inherently Sovereign Functions’ in International Law?,” an article recently published in the American Journal of International Law.