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Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue amadtenne d'etudes amimcmnes Volume 27, Number 1, 1997, pp. 119-142 The NAFTA Side-Agreement on the Environment: Domestic Politics in the Making of a Regional Regime Michel Duquette The Current Debate on International Regime Formation 119 Political research is increasingly concerned with the influence of domestic politics on the formation of international regimes. It is unclear whether liberal institutionalism fully acknowledges the importance of domestic politics, while neorealism invariably underestimates it. Scholars such as Joseph Grieco and Robert Keohane invite greater efforts in forging theoretical linkages between domestic determinants of policy choices, and international regime formation. They believe that such determinants are vital to understanding the way in which relative gains concerns are translated into policy through the selection of appropriate diplomatic strategies (Baldwin 1993). It also remains debatable whether a fewer number of state-actors make it easier for international cooperation to materialize on specific issues related to national security and economic welfare. Influenced by Bob Putnam's two-level game theory, the neorealist perspective considers international negotiation a zero-sum game wherein one party's gains are the other's losses, and where the political weight of the hegemonic actor, reinforced by interest group pressures, operates in a direct fashion. Do these power relations work unilaterally in favour of the hegcmon and lead to the signing of a treaty detrimental to the interests of other 120 Canadian Review of American Studies Revue amadienne d'etudes americaines parties? If such were the case, those about to lose their stakes would probably leave the bargaining table and no treaty would ever be signed. 1 Given that the aim of the hegemon is to rally support from all negotiating partners for a final proposal closely reflecting the interests which originally led it to the bargaining table, secondary actors will attempt to obtain concessions minimising their anticipated losses. Since these involve both expense and self-discipline in the area of environmental protection, which will slightly alter their respective position on the global market, they will insist that the hegemon-or anticipated winner-assumes a share of the burden, and call for a collectivisation of expenses and state financial support for initiatives imposed by the upcoming treaty. Neorealism is quite good at assessing dominance exerted by a nchly endowed country over its weaker neighbours, since it envisions the state as a hierarchical power system seeking dominance, and focuses on state-to-state relationships and regime formation as a global output of interstate relations. What it fails to factor in are the evolving power relations among groups, social movements, and governments, and the behaviour of individual actors; all of which may affect the negotiators agenda. Therefore, there is a growing interest in studying the influence of domestic politics on international regime formation. The agenda of individual polities is made up of controversies between actors and parties over policy choices, which cause constant conflict at a national level, and thus alter power relations in the domestic arena. For instance, an electoral agenda proposing to oust a conservative executive in favour of an environmentally friendlier coalition, may influence interstate relations. Such an occurrence might well alter the tenor of negotiations and lead to a revaluation of the terms of a treaty in the making. Oran Young's institutionalist model (1989) underscores the role of networks and procedures which tend to increase the effectiveness of the bargaining process and to allow for the interplay of circumstantial factors such as electoral cycles and environmental accidents. According to Young's model, six conditions must be met for any regime to emerge: (1) Issues at stake must lend themselves to contractorian interactions. Solutions are to be sought within an integrative bargaining process which takes into account that the position of the various parties will evolve throughout the process. (2) The MichelDuquetteI 121 proposed solution must be perceived as equitable-rather than just efficient-by all parties. (3) Salient solutions-describable in easy terms-must be field-realisable. (4) Clear-cut compliance mechanisms must be available. (5) Exogenous factors such as ecological accidents will increase the likelihood ot success in efforts to negotiate the terms of an agreement. (6) Effective leadership must be...


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