International harmonization of nanotechnology governance through "soft law" approaches

Gary Marchant, Kenneth Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The governance of nanotechnology has two distinct aspects. First, because every developed nation is simultaneously developing the technology and regulatory oversight for nanotechnology, there is an unprecedented interest and effort in international harmonization of governance. Second, given the many challenges with traditional regulatory approaches to nanotechnology, "soft law" approaches that rely on non-binding requirements have been particularly prevalent for nano-technology. This article reviews a number of international soft law initiatives for nanotechnology, created by and involving a variety of different stakeholders including government, industry, non-governmental organizations and other third party entities. Although the implementation and impacts of these programs have been inconsistent and limited to date, the experience with nanotechnology is providing useful lessons and precedent for the role of soft law mechanisms in the international governance of emerging technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-410
Number of pages18
JournalNanotechnology Law and Business
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Law


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