Earth Negotiations: Analyzing Thirty Years of Environmental Diplomacy

Earth Negotiations: Analyzing Thirty Years of Environmental Diplomacy

Earth Negotiations: Analyzing Thirty Years of Environmental Diplomacy

Earth Negotiations: Analyzing Thirty Years of Environmental Diplomacy

Synopsis

Global environmental problems pose important diplomatic and legal challenges to the international community. The nature of these problems requires an unprecedented degree of international cooperation both in terms of scientific research and the harmonization of regulations that is achieved through negotiation. Scientific uncertainty, the complexity of the issues, and the wide range of actors have shaped a complicated negotiating process.Earth Negotiations develops a phased-process model that can enable greater understanding of the process by which international environmental agreements are negotiated. By breaking down the negotiating process into a series of phases and turning points, it is easier to analyze the roles of the different actors, the management of issues, the formation of groups and coalitions, and the art of consensus building. Six discernible phases and five associated turning points within the process of multilateral environmental negotiation are identified and explained. Ratification/Implementation. The model is then used to examine relationships among the phases and turning points and between the processes and the outcome to see if there is anything that occurs in the earlier phases of negotiation that affects subsequent phases and if there is anything in the process that may have an effect on the outcome. The overall goal is to determine what lessons can be learned from past cases of multilateral environmental negotiation in order to help both practitioners and scholars strengthen the negotiating process and the quality of its results.

Excerpt

“Getting action in the United Nations,” a diplomat once complained, “is like the mating of elephants. It takes place at a very high level, with an enormous amount of huffing and puffing, raises a tremendous amount of dust and nothing happens for at least 23 months” (Gardner 1972, 70).

Taking into account the slow process of negotiating international agreements within the framework of the UN system, including the acknowledged “huffing and puffing,” global environmental problems, while raising a certain amount of dust, pose important diplomatic and legal challenges to the international community in general and the United Nations in particular. Many who see the urgent need for action on environmental problems are skeptical of entrusting responsibilities to the slow and often cumbersome multilateral negotiating process within the United Nations. Not all international environmental treaties have been negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations or one of its specialized agencies or programs, but, ever since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the United Nations has been increasingly recognized as the habitat for addressing environmental issues that are too large to be handled by any state, or even by a limited group of states. Although there are frustrations inherent in the UN system and the international treaty-making process, governments are not ready to surrender environmental decision-making and their own sovereignty to a supranational body with legislative and enforcement powers. As a result, the international community is forced to employ some method of . . .

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