Legal Research Master Conference 2017
Law and New Risks

12-05-2017 10.00 uur - 18.00 uur

Achter Sint Pieter 200 Utrecht

A diverse range of emergent and undiscovered risks pose threats to the health, safety and prosperity of people and societies. For example, new technologies in the fields of automation, robotics or medicine may not only affect the conditions of the workers producing them, but may also impact consumers and even those who are simply members of the society in which those technologies proliferate.
For these new risks, there is still a lot to be discovered. It may be difficult to foresee and determine the nature of a risk and therefore where the risks stem from, how and when the risks manifest themselves and what their potential damage is. Moreover, there may be multiple factors which compose a risk which are hard to disentangle, while there are different framings of the risk (‘risk appetites’) according to the actors involved. 
Some questions that arise ask whether we still know which risks are given, and whether we can actually interpret potential threats in terms of probabilities and effects, doses and responses. How to design risk policies in domains where experts fundamentally disagree? And do we need other concepts and policy strategies to be able to manage current and future risks? 
These questions may have a troubling effect on institutions such as law, of which society expects to protect it from harm. Therefore, the 2017 LRM Conference asks the following question: how can law anticipate, mitigate and regulate new risks in order to protect human physical safety? 
Many disciplines continue to shed their light upon this matter, which may provide useful insights for answering the main question. In order to establish what new risks are and to shed light upon it’s definitional challenges, a plenary session aims first to provide for an introduction. It provides a conceptual background on (regulating) new risks, from a technical, legal and governance perspective. Against that background further debate can take place.
 
Streams
The plenary session will be followed by three streams. Each stream provides for a technical background in a recent development in technology or society, and then sheds light on it from one or multiple legal perspectives. Each participant attends one casus. Each stream will be led by experts from multiple disciplinaries, including legal academics, and will be:
 
Nanotechnology
In this stream the focus will be on the regulatory debate on nanomaterials that are handled in workspaces. How can and should employees be protected against the potential risks of nanotechnology while there is scientific uncertainty about the dangers of nanotechnology? 
 
Genome modification
This stream focuses on the increasing application of genome editing techniques on humans, animals, microorganisms and plants. The discussion in this stream will surround the question that asks: how can law anticipate the negative consequences of the use of genome editing for human and environmental safety, while minimizing obstructing its scientific development and commercial application?
 
Climate change and induced displacement
This stream investigates the risks posed by climate change in light of one of its several manifestations: its impact on people's’ mobility, migration or displacement (the so-called issue of ‘climate refugees’). The focus is on the (legal) implications ensuing from it, for instance, in terms of insecurity, human rights violations, cultural loss, etc., but also taking into account different regulatory levels (national, regional and international) and regulatory stages (ex ante and ex post).