Basel committee on banking supervision : a post-crisis analysis of governance and accountability


University of British Columbia

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Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy - PhD




The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) was established in 1974 as an informal group of central bankers and bank supervisors with the mandate to formulate supervisory standards and guidelines. Although the Committee does not have any formal supranational authority, it is the de facto global banking regulator and its recommendations have been widely implemented by member and non-member states. This thesis investigates the BCBS’s governance, operation, and policy outcomes to determine the extent to which it is and has been legitimate. The point of departure for my analysis is the literature on legitimacy in law, political science, and international relations. In particular, I draw upon Global Administrative Law theory (GAL) to examine the BCBS’s legitimacy against three principles: reasoned decision making, transparency, and accountability. My analysis is guided by five overarching questions: 1) Does the BCBS give reasons for its decisions? 2) Are the Committee’s governance and decision-making procedures transparent? 3) How and by what means does the BCBS consult the public in its policy-making process? 4) How and by whom is the Committee’s performance monitored? 5) Has the BCBS taken adequate measures to corrective measures to address the regulatory failures that contributed to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC)? I argue that the BCBS has gradually become a more legitimate institution but there still exists significant room for improvement. Inadequate disclosure on the BCBS’s deliberations, inadequacy and dilution of the post-crisis regulatory reforms, the underrepresentation of those constituencies without business interest or insufficient financial resources in BCBS consultations, and the absence of meaningful oversight of the BCBS’s policies, are among the areas I highlight for reform. I set out policy prescriptions to enhance the BCBS’s legitimacy, including the establishment of a new framework for transparency; creation of a proxy advocate to participate on behalf of underrepresented constituencies in the BCBS’s policy making; and the establishment of a new body to exercise active oversight of the BCBS’s operations.

Date Available



Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada




Law, Faculty of