Francesco Giovanni Albissini
The Rise Of Global Standards. ICAO's Standards And Recommended Practices
This article aims, using the examination of the regulation of aviation safety by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a case analysis, to demonstrate how the relationship between bureaucratic power and political authority, a recognized problem in public law studies, has shifted into a new context. Global regulatory regimes express a great variety of standards. This involves critical issues, regarding both sovereignty and legitimacy. Sovereignty, because the increasing number of ‘rule-makers’ implies a redefinition of the role of States, and legitimacy, because global regulatory regimes do not follow traditional paths of legitimacy as defined within the model of national public powers. Standards adopted by ICAO have a high degree of effectiveness, considering they are not formally binding. This effectiveness is due to the role assigned to standards in the ICAO Convention, and to the various tools used for ensuring compliance, which are primarily procedural. The adoption of a Universal Security Audit Programme for member States ensures control over the implementation of standards. Consequently, the development of this regulatory system is not merely adopted and ‘proposed’ to member States, but strongly fostered far beyond the initial understanding. But there is also another crucial factor to be considered. Technicality promotes uniformity, at least on a formal level. The need for a ‘common framework’ of technical rules, as safety standards are, is better met through a global regulatory regime, expression of bureaucratic power, rather than through a political authority. The balance between these two elements, however, is not clearly defined, and finds at the global level a new dimension of comparison.