Multi-Interest Self-Governance through Global Product Certification Programs

Multi-Interest Self-Governance through Global Product Certification Programs



Published as Chapter 9 in Responsible Business: Self-Governance and Law in Transnational Economic Transactions, Olaf Dilling, Martin Herberg & Gerd Winter, eds.

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 stricter than state standards, and 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.

Publication Date



Hart Publishing


Portland, OR



First Page


Last Page



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


Administrative Law | International Trade Law | Law


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Multi-Interest Self-Governance through Global Product Certification Programs