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Professor Dr. Philos. Arild Underdal is a highly respected political science scholar. He has made particularly significant contributions to the fields of international negotiations and regime analyses—both through his scholarly work and through his ability to bring people together to generate new and interesting research. Underdal is also recognized for his administrative skills. He was Rector of the University of Oslo from 2002 to 2006. In February 2006, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Royal Order of St. Olav, a very high distinction in Norway.

Underdal's structured approach has made him a cherished teacher, supervisor and colleague. He has been a prominent figure in international relations (IR) research at several institutions, such as the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, and CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo. Through his educational capabilities, Underdal has contributed to the recruitment of a number of skilled master and Ph.D. students that have later embarked on academic careers. Underdal has thus played a major part in the development of the IR research community in the Oslo area.

This special issue of Global Environmental Politics is a Festschrift to honor a friend and colleague on his 60th birthday. The contributors include some of the many that have benefited from his scholarly and educational skills. The theme for the Festschrift is international environmental regime formation, change and implementation. It starts with a biographical account of Underdal's research, with an emphasis on his earlier works, from a long-time teacher, friend and colleague: Professor Emeritus Knut Midgaard. The remainder of the Festschrift is organized in two main parts.

The first part focuses on factors linked to the negotiation of environmental agreements. Tora Skodvin and Steinar Andresen critically examine shortcomings of received conceptualizations of leadership in processes of international regime formation and change. Jon Hovi and Detlef Sprinz analyze conditions that tend to limit the domain of the so-called Law of the Least Ambitious Program. Edward L. Miles uses the analytical framework developed by Miles and associates1 to assess the effectiveness of the Third UN Conference of the Law of [End Page 1] the Sea. Finally, with a point of departure in the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Raino Malnes explores problematic aspects of the close interaction between science and policy that is often associated with international environmental regime formation.

The second main part of the Festschrift focuses on regime effectiveness. Ronald B. Mitchell argues that assessments of the relative effectiveness of international environmental regimes require that the structures of the problems they address are carefully accounted for and suggests how shortcomings related to the incorporation of problem structure can be dealt with in effectiveness research. David G. Victor explores factors that might contribute to overcoming the law of the least ambitious program in efforts to achieve effective international cooperation on climate change. Jon Birger Skjærseth, Olav Schram Stokke and Jørgen Wettestad explore how the interplay between "soft law" (i.e., international norms that are deliberately non-binding in character but that still have legal relevance) may interact with "hard law" (i.e., legally binding obligations) to enhance the effectiveness of international environmental regimes. In the final contribution in this part of the Festschrift Oran R. Young and Michael Zürn present the International Regimes Database, which is a relational database with comparable data on a large number of cases that can be used for both quantitative and qualitative analytical purposes. This contribution, therefore, nicely sums up the last few decades of international regime analyses. It also points to how this field of research can progress further. We are confident that Arild Underdal will play a major part in this future progression, just as he has done in the past.

Tora Skodvin, Steinar Andresen, and Jon Hovi
Oslo, February 2006
Tora Skodvin

Tora Skodvin is senior research fellow at CICERO Center for Climate and Environmental Research—Oslo. Her research interests include international climate negotiations, with a particular focus on the role of non-state actors in general and scientific communities in...

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