Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance

Global Governance by Experts: What Role for Accountability in Regulatory Science?

Dr Alessandra Arcuri

14Jan2014 13:00 - 14:00


In today’s world, scientists are often co-producers of regulation and standards of global import. Alessandra Arcuri sets out to initiate a debate on their accountability.

Scientists are often co-producers of regulation and standards of global import. They are typically operating in technical committees of international regulatory and standard setting bodies, such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) and the International Standardization Organization (ISO). These committees in turn produce non-binding documents that should serve as the basis for the standards adopted by the mentioned organizations. Irrespective of the non-binding nature of these documents, the practice is that almost invariably the scientific opinions are turned into standards. Given the growth of de facto regulatory authority gained by scientific experts operating in the global regulatory space, the speaker sets out to initiate a debate on their accountability.

But, is it meaningful to talk of accountability for regulatory scientists? What are the accountability mechanisms that could be employed for scientists, if any? Can scientists be held to account on the basis of mechanisms of ‘legal accountability’? Or are only forms of ‘peer accountability’ applicable to scientists? And, what are the main problems of designing accountability mechanisms for scientists operating at the international level?

Alessandra Arcuri distinguishes different accountability mechanisms and discusses the main challenges of conceptualizing accountability for experts operating in global regulatory bodies. The analytical framework is applied to the regime of global food safety regulation, where the scientists working for the Codex Alimentarius Commission play a central role.

The speaker

Alessandra Arcuri is Associate Professor of International Economic Law at the Erasmus School of Law (ESL), Erasmus University Rotterdam. She holds a law degree with honours from Rome's La Sapienza University (1997), an LL.M in Law and Economics with honours from Utrecht University (1998) and a Ph.D. from Erasmus University Rotterdam (Governing the Risks of Ultra-Hazardous Activities, 2005). In 2011-2012 Dr Arcuri was Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI), in 2003-2004 she was a Global Fellow at NYU Law School and in Spring 2001 she was Marie Curie Fellow at Hamburg University. Dr Arcuri’s research focuses on risk regulation, international economic law and the intersection of law and science.


Attendance is free of charge. For organizational reasons, please sign up for the meeting by sending an email to

Published by  ACELG