Fostering the Participation of Companies in Standardization: A Soft Law Instrument to Reduce Risks – The Concept of Student Standardization Societies

Fostering the Participation of Companies in Standardization: A Soft Law Instrument to Reduce Risks – The Concept of Student Standardization Societies

Christophe Sene (CEN/TC-276, France)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2181-6.ch010
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Standardization is one source of informal rules that regulate the public realm: standards are not legally-binding, but, as soft law instruments, they influence the governance, ethics, and conduct of companies. Standardization brings unique benefits to companies in term of knowledge, credibility, and risk reduction by bringing accountability and predictability. To foster active participation of companies in standardization, higher and continuous education in standardization is essential to build mutual understanding between companies and the standardization world since decision making in the former is a relatively quick top-down hierarchical process while in the latter time-consuming consensus-building is the norm. The concept of Student Standardization Societies (SSS) is introduced as the best way to promote standardization in the long term, and advice is given for the practical implementation of SSS and their relationship with Official Standardization Organizations.
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Standardization As A Soft Law Instrument

For the layman, legislation appears as a well-defined set of texts which have been adopted by official bodies (e.g. the parliament) and must be abided by in order to be compliant with the law. In practice, legislation can be considered as a protean set of texts with a high diversity of origin, different level of requirements and enforcement. Scholars make the distinction between hard law and soft law.

The term soft law is an ambiguous term that has been coined to define a wide range of documents and instruments having some normative pretentions and which are not necessarily adopted by institutions that have the right to adopt legislation. Soft law can be adopted by a wide variety of actors: official standards that are adopted by Official Standardization Organizations fall within that definition of soft law.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Biomass: Biomass corresponds to raw materials that originate from plants (e.g., palm oil) and animals (e.g., tallow). It excludes minerals (e.g., iron, silica) and fossil raw materials (e.g., mineral oil).

Surfactants: Surfactants are chemicals which have surface-active properties, and which consist of a hydrophilic moiety and a hydrophobic moiety. They have unique properties due to their molecular structure. Millions of tons of surfactants are manufactured per year in the world and are used (1) in consumer products such as detergents, cosmetics and paints and (2) in industrial applications in oil-field and agrobusiness.

Hard Law: By opposition to soft law, hard law refers to legislation that are adopted by the formal legislative process such EU Regulations in Europe or Acts of Parliament in the UK. Hard law is legally binding and enforceable by the public authorities. Hard law is in layman language simply “law”.

Student Standardization Societies (SSS): They are associations or bodies whose mission is to educate higher-education students on normalization by practicing and role-playing. Their membership is open to graduates and post-graduates. They are organized in the same way as official standardization organizations. SSS are designed to issue “student” standards.

Bio-Based Surfactants: Surfactants which are made from at least of 5% biomass. Minority bio-based surfactants contain from 5 to 49% biomass and majority bio-based surfactants from 50% to 95%). Wholly bio-based surfactants must contain more than 95% of biomass.

Soft Law: By opposition to hard law, the term ‘soft law refers instruments that are non-legally binding and enforceable only to some degree. Unlike hard law, they are not adopted by a formal legislative process. Examples of soft law included decisions of G7 summits, action plan of world environmental conference or uniliteral act of a state, or gentlemen agreement between states. Soft law is usually associated with international law but can be use also in domestic law. International standards are deemed to be soft law instruments. There is an on-going debate on whether “soft law” is really law.

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