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Implications of Soft Law Regimes for Small States: The Experience of Switzerland and Liechtenstein (Lorenz Langer)

In recent years, numerous so-called soft law regimes have been established, often in combination with effective international oversight and rigorous review procedures. This contribution considers the specific impact such regimes may have on small and very small states. Relying primarily on the experiences of Switzerland and Liechtenstein with GRECO and the OECD respectively, it is argued that international standardisation might not always sufficiently take into consideration the sometimes peculiar historical, political and institutional characteristics of small states; also, there is some risk that small states are exposed to particular scrutiny. Sentiments of unfair treatment may in turn lead to an increasingly negative attitude towards soft law in general, as illustrated by the unexpected parliamentary opposition to the U.N. Migration compact both in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.