State Regulation and Non-state Law
Edited by Hanneke van Schooten and Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 8: The Hardness of Soft Law in the United Kingdom: State and Non-State Regulatory Activities Related to Nanotechnological Development
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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