The need for an interdisciplinary approach to norm diffusion: the case of fair and equitable benefit-sharing

Elisa Morgera, Louisa Parks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


No systematic study discusses the evolution of fair and equitable benefit-sharing across various areas of international law (environment, human rights, oceans), as well as at different levels of regulation (regional and national laws and guidelines, private law contracts, transboundary codes of conduct, customary laws of indigenous peoples and local communities). This article explores the usefulness of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of norm diffusion for understanding how and why fair and equitable benefit-sharing is articulated in different sites. The article discusses mechanisms, actors and frames in norm diffusion, drawing on literature from sociology, international relations and law. The article uncovers underlying similarities in scholarship on norm diffusion across the disciplines considered. It also reflects on the value of an interdisciplinary approach that encourages legal scholars to consider the implications of power structures in the diffusion of law, while the nuances of legal knowledge may lead other social scientists to revisit accepted findings on norm diffusion. These findings appear particularly useful for informing an assessment of the potential of fair and equitable benefit-sharing to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in a fair and equitable manner in the face of power asymmetries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-367
Number of pages15
JournalReview of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • international law
  • norm diffusion
  • equitable benefit sharing


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