A Framework Convention for Nanotechnology?
34 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2006 Last revised: 13 Jun 2014
Date Written: August 21, 2006
As an international policy issue, nanotechnology (NT) presents a unique set of attributes and poses an extraordinary set of regulatory challenges. Given that NT is a major funding priority for governments and industry groups around the world, it is expected to rapidly evolve and advance, presenting risks and benefits that are still largely unknown and even unanticipated. While some politicians, social scientists and activists call for robust regulatory oversight, regulators struggle with their lack of data and knowledge, still far more limited than the levels of information they typically require as a prerequisite for regulatory action. This situation poses a dilemma: while the lack of regulation has the potential to undercut public confidence in this nascent technology, premature and inappropriate regulation could impede the development of socially beneficial products and applications.
One regulatory tool that may prove useful is an international framework convention for NT. This paper describes the concept of the framework convention, briefly discusses several examples of framework conventions and related agreements that may provide relevant analogues or lessons for NT, and concludes with a summary on how a framework convention on NT might be structured.
Keywords: nanotechnology, regulation, international law, technology, international relations, soft law, framework, convention, environmental, trade, Gatt, WTO, tobacco convention
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