International Governance and Law

International Governance and Law

State Regulation and Non-state Law

Edited by Hanneke van Schooten and Jonathan Verschuuren

Around the world, the role of national regulation is often hotly debated. This book takes as its starting point the fact that legislatures and regulators are criticized for overregulation and for producing poor-quality regulation which ignores input from citizens and stifles private initiative. This situation has enhanced the role of non-state law, in forms such as self-regulation and soft law. In this book, international scholars in various fields of law, as well as socio-legal studies, address the question to what extent non-state law currently influences state regulation, and what the consequences of non-state law are likely to be for state regulation.

Chapter 8: The Hardness of Soft Law in the United Kingdom: State and Non-State Regulatory Activities Related to Nanotechnological Development

Bärbel Dorbeck-Jung and Marloes van Amerom

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics


8. The hardness of soft law in the United Kingdom: state and nonstate regulatory activities related to nanotechnological development Bärbel Dorbeck-Jung and Marloes van Amerom 1. INTRODUCTION In the past three years regional and national regulators have become aware of the huge governance challenges of emerging nanotechnologies.1 Nanotechnologies refer to technologies of the very small, with dimensions in the range of one to a hundred nanometers.2 Although there is much concern about the risks of these new technologies, in most countries no specific legal action has been taken to anticipate potential damage to health, safety and the environment, and consumer protection. According to a recent OECD review of regulatory development on the safety of manufactured nanomaterials, the common regulatory approach includes standardization, research and development funding activities, the collection of evidence on nanotechnological risks, evaluations of existing legislative structures and the promotion of codes of conduct.3 Presently, soft law is emerging at various levels of nanotechnological regulation. By soft law we understand rules of conduct which in principle have no legally binding force, but which nevertheless have effects in legal practice (Snyder 1995). Soft law is playing an important role in non-state law, as well as in the state’s legislature. At the European level, for example, the European Commission’s Action Plan on Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies sets out certain rules for the regulation of nanotechnologies.4 Other interesting examples of soft law are the voluntary reporting schemes on nanotechnological properties and risks that have been introduced in the United...

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