Rules that Many Use: Standards and Global Regulation



Global regulation increasingly relies on alternatives to legal rules, variously termed “soft law,”“best-practice rules,” or “standards.” Such voluntary best-practice rules can be highly effective. Standards influence users by virtue of the expertise on which they are based and because of their enforcement by public and private actors. Standards globally proliferate because they are more compatible with regulatory autonomy of states than binding directives. When global standards are effective, the question of how to subject them to democratic control often arises. The prospects for holding global standard setters accountable largely depend on how decisions on standards are made. These insights are illustrated by examples of the global regulation of financial markets. The preliminary evidence suggests that standards need to be taken more seriously by students of global regulation.