An Empirical Study of Review Mechanisms in Environmental Regimes.
This report is part of a large scale comparison of how implementation review mechanisms (IRMs) are used in international environmental agreements. Broadly, IRMs are the means by which data is exchanged and gathered, reviewed and assessed in the context of an international agreement, and by which problems of compliance and inadequate performance are managed. Here we describe the data protocol that is being used in assembing a database of review mechanisms and explain the rationale behind all the major questions in the protocol. The protocol consists of questions about the general features of agreements as well as more focussed questions concerning: how information relating to national performance and compliance is gathered and disseminated; how that information is assessed; and the means by which the parties and the agreement respond to potential problems of noncompliance and inadequate performance. The database is useful in part because it organizes information about different international environmental agreements into a comparable format and thus aids in the selection of appropriate cases and comparisons for further research. It is also useful because it can aid in the testing of hypotheses about which aspects of international agreements and review mechanisms lead agreements to be more effective. We are now using it for both purposes, in addition to extending the number of cases in the database. To date, over fifty cases have been coded using the protocol. Here we also report some observations and hypotheses derived from working with the data from those cases. These include: 1) a hypothesis that review mechanisms tend to grow as needed to fulfill demand for specific functions; 2) a hypothesis that review mechanisms might help the parties to an agreement address various forms of complexity that arise in negotiating and managing international agreements; 3) a questions as to whether and how often institutions that are formally outside a particular agreement but with competence or power in the issue-area de facto provide the review mechanisms for the agreement; 4) a question as to whether review mechanisms make their largest contribution to effectiveness when the obligations of an agreement are precise or vague; 5) a question as to whether in practice some of the functions of review mechanisms are performed by dispute resolution mechanisms, which tend to be formally created in most international agreements (but appear to be rarely used in environmental agreements).
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