International Organizations and Environmental Policy

By Robert V. Bartlett; Priya A. Kurian et al. | Go to book overview
determine the outcome directly by simply using their political power. But when looking at the course of the treatment of the plant genetic resource issue across the FAO, UNEP, and GATT, stronger states (notably the United States) did determine the outcome of the issue, although in an indirect way. This "forum shopping" offered industrialized countries (as "gene consumers") the opportunity to secure their dominant position in the multilateral decisionmaking on plant genetic resources.On the basis of this finding, I suggest two hypotheses which could be of use in further analyses of international environmental organizations:
1. The outcome of decisionmaking on a certain (environmental) issue should not only be attributed to a state's political power within an international organization, but also to the state's ability to push an issue from one political arena to another.
2. Different mandates of international organizations lead to different issue linkages. Since policymaking on environmental issues is often guided by considerations that are less related to environmental matters but instead inspired by stands on other policy issues, these different linkages can lead to different policy outcomes on the same issue in different international organizations.

CONCLUSION

In a world in which global political issues increasingly overlap, issue linkages between political arenas deserve more attention. The behavior of different states regarding a particular issue in international negotiations cannot be judged by focusing only on one particular political arena or one international organization.

In this case, an analysis based on one political arena would have offered a rather static view of the plant genetic resource issue in general and the related north-south conflict within this issue in particular. Analyzing more political arenas offers greater insight into the phenomenon that some states react differently to the same issue in different political arenas. That offers a better insight into the bargaining strength of states in each political arena and their ability to create tactical issue linkages across political arenas. A related drawback of the one-political arena approach is that it offers a limited focus on the relative bargaining strengths of actors. An analysis of the plant genetic resource issue that focused only on the political arena of food production, or only on environmental protection, would have overestimated the negotiation power of the developing countries.

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