Multi-Interest Self-Governance Through Global Product Certification Programs

37 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2006

See all articles by Errol Meidinger

Errol Meidinger

University at Buffalo Law School; University of Freiburg

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2006


This paper describes emerging new governance systems centered on programs that seek to 'certify' products as having been produced in environmentally or socially appropriate ways. These programs typically promulgate their own standards, which are often considerably stricter than state standards, and to implement them through distinctive inspection and monitoring institutions. Conventionally labeled as 'self-governance' because they are organized around global product chains, the programs also incorporate a growing variety of non-economic interests from around the world in policy making and implementation. The paper focuses on forestry, but also discusses organic agriculture, apparel, and fisheries certification, describing the structure and dynamics of these programs as well as their relationships to state legal regimes. It suggests, among other things, that the programs have had surprisingly large effects on operational practices, that they may be evolving distinctive new accountability systems, and that they rely particularly heavily on 'logics of appropriateness' in seeking to establish their legitimacy.

Keywords: accountability, administrative law, certification, conformity assurance, eco-labeling, environmental management, globalization, governance, international trade, labor standards, legal pluralism, self-regulation, self-governance, standard setting

JEL Classification: F02, L31, L50, N50, O13, Q22, Q23

Suggested Citation

Meidinger, Errol, Multi-Interest Self-Governance Through Global Product Certification Programs (July 2006). Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-016, Available at SSRN: or

Errol Meidinger (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

520 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-6692 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)

University of Freiburg ( email )

Tennebacher Str. 4
Freiburg, 79106

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