Over the last decades, the international arbitration community has witnessed a considerable increase in the creation of what is commonly labelled as “soft law”. The term “soft law” encompasses a plethora of different norms, including guidelines, protocols, rules, notes and recommendations , which share their establishment outside the framework for the creation of legal norms. The creators of soft law are as diverse as the very soft law texts themselves. They include arbitral institutions, international organizations, bar associations, professional organizations, academic institutions, private law firms etc. More often than not, the creators of soft law are private and not State actors.
This development gives cause to ask various questions: Are we experiencing the privatization of law-making? Or how else can we conceptualize the normative value of soft law? What are the factors that account for the spreading of soft law? Will soft and hard law at some point in time converge? The present paper will address these questions, with a focus on procedural soft norms created specifically for international arbitration proceedings.