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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: January 2011

6 - Case studies of science and risk regulation in international law

Summary

Introduction

In recent years the interface between science and international risk governance has become an important topic of policy debate and scholarly analysis. This reflects the growing role of international requirements and global bodies in governing risk decision-making, displacing the once pre-eminent place of national authorities in this field. The lion's share of academic discussion concerning science and international risk regulation has taken place in respect of the SPS Agreement, addressed in the previous chapter. However, there are a number of other areas of international law where the role of science and expertise in risk regulation and ensuring environmental safety poses ongoing, complex issues. Beyond the sphere of the SPS Agreement, the social scientific literature has been far in advance of the legal scholarship in examining these questions. This literature has yielded many important insights, particularly concerning science–policy configurations in which scientific evidence and expertise can play their most effective role.

Despite this, there remains a pressing need for legal analysis in the area. Such analysis can add to wider understanding of the role of science in international risk regulation by providing an evaluation of the contribution of specific laws (such as treaty texts) and legal institutions (such as the interpretative work of the dispute settlement system of the WTO). Indeed, as the SPS jurisprudence discussed in the previous chapter illustrates, law may well represent a privileged and central venue for the constitution of regimes of knowledge.

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