Global forest politics reveal surprising impacts of environmental norms on state behavior at the international level. Negotiations regarding deforestation have repeatedly failed to produce a policy agreement. Instead of abandoning the deadlocked talks, governments created the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), a hollow entity deliberately deprived of decision-making powers. Various theoretical perspectives fail to explain why states create blank international institutions without policy mandates. Several arguments are advanced here. First, a global norm of environmental multilateralism (NEM) helps explain the creation of the UNFF as well as universal state participation in it. Second, such "good" norms can have negative consequences in world politics. NEM prohibits states from disengaging from failed political initiatives, and fosters the creation of hollow institutions that nourish skepticism about the effectiveness of global governance. Finally, global forestry defies the widespread academic notion that norms, institutions and governance are coterminous. Sometimes states design "decoy" institutions whose function is to preempt governance.
Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). Protocols, etc., 2000 Jan. 29.
Biotechnology -- Environmental aspects.
Environmental law, International.
The precautionary principle is increasingly recognized as an important tool in multilateral environmental policy making, even as its practical implications remain the subject of intense debate. Drawing on Foucault's reading of discursive politics, this paper traces the emergence and effects of a specific framing of a precautionary response to new technologies found in the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This international treaty enables states to restrict imports of specific classes of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), even if the extent of the harm they may cause remains uncertain. This particular framing of precaution in an environmental treaty is novel for its application to technologies yet to be demonstrated as harmful, and can only be understood in the context of the contentiousness of controversies over GMOs, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and hormone-injected beef in the 1990s. At the same time, what might be termed the "Cartagena discourse of precaution" has already had productive effects on a variety of other policy fields including the regulation of persistent organic pollutants and pesticides.
A principal reason for popular concern about the World Trade Organisation is that national rules—especially those for environmental and public health protection—may be overturned because they are incompatible with the WTO's rules. This article argues that while these concerns are not totally unfounded, they are exaggerated. A central reason for this exaggeration is that environmental and consumer advocates discount the pivotal role of governments in the dispute resolution process. Governments agree to the multilateral rules in the first place. Governments decide which market access barriers to pursue and how aggressively. Governments determine how to comply with a WTO judgment that goes against them. Furthermore, this article contends that by exaggerating the constraint imposed upon national governments by the WTO, consumer and environmental advocates run the risk of actually discouraging the very environmental and public health regulations they favor.
Fishing that takes place on flag-of-convenience vessels, outside the international regulatory structure, is increasingly undermining the ability of fishery conservation organizations to manage fish stocks. Among the most affected are high seas and highly migratory stocks such as tuna, swordfish, and toothfish. The traditional approach to addressing this problem, efforts to persuade non-member flag states to join international agreements, has met with little success. Recently, efforts by regional fishery management organizations to allow, or require, member states to refuse to allow the importation or transshipment of fish products that cannot be shown to be caught under the rules of the organization, have had much more of an effect in reinforcing conservation efforts. In response to these measures, some flag states have joined international agreements and some have taken steps to stop fishing activity by ships in their registries. Even ships that do not comply with these rules may cease to find markets for their products. The case of fishing regulations suggests both that, in an era of globalization, individual actors are willing and able to avoid international rules, and that collective international action to exclude them from the benefits of doing so can improve global regulatory efforts.
Environmental organizations, characterized here as transnational advocacy networks, use various strategies to "green" international financial institutions (IFIs). This article goes beyond analyzing network strategies to examine how transnational advocacy networks reconstitute the identity of IFIs. This, it is argued, results from processes of socialization: social influence, persuasion and coercion by lobbying. A case study of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as a member of the World Bank Group, is used to analyze how an IFI internalized sustainable development norms. The IFC finances private enterprise in developing countries by providing venture capital for private projects. Transnational advocacy networks socialized the IFC through influencing its projects, policies and institutions via direct and indirect interactions to the point where the organization now sees itself as a sustainable development financier. This article applies constructivist insights to the greening process in order to demonstrate how socialization can reshape an IFI's identity.