Environment and Statecraft: The Strategy of Environmental Treaty-Making

By Scott Barrett | Go to book overview

11 The Depth and Breadth of International Cooperation

There is no durable treaty which is not founded on reciprocal advantage, and indeed a treaty which does not satisfy this condition is no treaty at all, and is apt to contain the seeds of its own dissolution. Thus the great secret of negotiation is to bring out prominently the common advantage to both parties of any proposal, and so to link these advantages that they may appear equally balanced to both parties. François de Calliéres, De la Maniere de Negocier Avec les Souverains (1716). 1


11.1 INTRODUCTION

To this point, the theory suggests that participation is the problem of international cooperation. But the data sometimes tell a different story. Many agreements sustain close to full participation. Some are even negotiated on the basis that the best deal should be reached, subject to participation being full or nearly so. According to a Swedish diplomat (Kjellen 1994 : 151), who took a leading role in negotiating the Framework Convention on Climate Change, “a major objective of the negotiation was to have all the big players sign the convention during the Earth Summit at Rio.”

This is a different way of looking at international cooperation. In Chapters 7 and 10 , parties to a treaty were assumed to choose abatement levels so as to maximize their joint payoff, taking the number of parties and their identities as given. The diplomat quoted above, however, suggests that the abatement levels prescribed by a treaty may be chosen subject to a participation constraint.

If countries could have it both ways—if they could choose the abatement levels that maximized their joint payoff and ensure that participation was full—then full cooperation would always be sustained. But if the constraint of self-enforcement binds, we can't have it both ways. Something has to give. Either participation must be less than full or signatories must choose abatement levels that fall short of maximizing their collective payoff.

Indeed, Kjellen readily blames the feebleness of the Framework Convention (discussed in detail in Chapter 15) on the overriding desire for consensus. “If we were to reach consensus, ” he says, “there could be no commitments on targets and timetables in the final agreed text.” This hints at a trade-off. Countries can reach a consensus around a weak agreement, or they can negotiate a more potent but incomplete agreement. When negotiating the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the lead

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