International Organizations and Environmental Policy

By Robert V. Bartlett; Priya A. Kurian et al. | Go to book overview

4
Policymaking in International Organizations: The European Union and Ozone Protection

M. Leann Brown

The policy foci and priorities of international organizations are perpetually in transition in response to changing global conditions and problems arising among and within constituent units. New manifestations and interpretations of perennial policy concerns require policy innovation. Old issues are replaced by new policy concerns. For example, the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the European Union (EU) have now incorporated environmental priorities among their more traditional objectives.

How do new issues reach the agendas of international organizations? How are policy alternatives delineated? What processes within international organizations characterize issue selection, policy alternative identification, and decisionmaking? These questions acquire greater import as increased global interdependence and the end of the Cold War have led to a proliferation of problems requiring the attention of international organizations.

Although theoretical understanding of policy formulation and innovation in international organizations is rudimentary, recent efforts have focused on issue areas, regimes, collective goods problems, and organizational learning. A significant literature has emerged relevant to these processes in the context of pluralistic government in the United States. Synthesizing theories include Hofferbert's open-systems framework ( 1974), Ostrom's rational actors within institutions approach ( 1986), Kingdon's policy streams framework ( 1984), and Sabatier's advocacy coalition framework ( 1988).

Among these perspectives, two interpretations stand out: those that focus on the importance of values, beliefs, knowledge, and learning and those that assign primacy to power interests and political interactions as sources of policy. To emphasize either to the exclusion of the other, however, is to forfeit understanding of important aspects of policymaking. If policymaking is conceptualized as the interaction of actors within and outside of formal

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