Asif Efrat


This Article examines the overlooked countertrend of international trade regulation. It offers a theory of internationally regulated goods ("IRGs") that explains why certain goods are regulated internationally, how governments form their preferences on international regulation, and how they establish cooperation. This Article argues that international regulation allows governments to make up for the deficiencies of national regulation by inducing the externalities-generating countries to establish proper controls. Beyond identifying and analyzing the trend of internationally regulated goods, this Article makes several additional contributions. Most importantly, the theoretical model bridges rationalist and nonrationalist accounts of international law by combining self-interest calculations with morally-inspired motivations. In my theory, governments respond to material influences, such as interest group pressure, yet they may also harbor value-inspired concerns for the welfare of foreign countries. The theory can therefore answer puzzling questions such as: Why did the United States launch a worldwide campaign against human trafficking in 2000? Why has the United States accepted the international regulation of antiquities, to the benefit of foreign countries facing archaeological plunder and to the detriment of the American art market? The theory developed in this Article also sheds light on international cooperation against small arms proliferation and misuse, money laundering, counterfeiting, and a host of other problems that threaten international security, the international economy, and human welfare. The Article is organized as follows. Part II documents the trend of internationally regulated goods and explains its causes. Part III theorizes government preferences on international regulation and accounts for their considerable variation. Part IV examines how cooperation is established in light of the conflicting preferences of governments. Part V concludes with implications for policy and for international law scholarship.