Soft Law Workshop / March 5, 2012

Gary Marchant
Workshop Organizer

“Soft law” refers to various types of enactments that impose substantive requirements, but which are not directly enforceable.  This can include guidelines, principles, codes of conduct, voluntary agreements, public-private partnerships and many other types of instruments.  These soft law measures have the advantage of being more adaptive and flexible, which makes them attractive for oversight of rapidly emerging technologies.  However, soft law measures also have their disadvantages, including that they are not binding and therefore may not achieve widespread compliance, and the process by which such measures are adopted may not provide all relevant stakeholders the same opportunity to participate compared to government regulatory process.

Under a grant from the Department of Energy, the Center for Law, Science & Innovation has been examining the potential role of soft law mechanisms in the oversight of nanotechnology.  An article summarizing some of our findings will soon be available here.  This workshop held on March 5, 2012 looked at lessons that can be drawn from soft law approaches to other technologies or problems.  The materials from that workshop are posted below.

 Soft Law Goverance 

 Schedule & Attendee List


Timoth Smith,The Authority Gap of Rival Private Governance Networks: The Case of Really New Technologies

Adam Finkel and Gary Marchant, The OSHA-NAIMA HSPP: Example of a Voluntary Industry-Government Program

Gary Dodge, FSC Certification as a Market-Based Tool to Imporve Forest Management 

Michael Baram, Devising a Credible Semi-Self Regulatory Program 

Jonathan Koppell, Dynamics of Global Rulemaking 

Nicole Darnall, Do Voluntary Agreements and Codes of Conduct Change Firms' Behaviors? Lessons Learned from the Environmental Arena

Graeme Auld, Reversal of Fortune: Early Choices and the Evolution of Non-state Certification