Review Mechanisms in the Effective Implementation of International Environmental Agreements.
J.C. di Primio
This report is part of a research project on how the process of implementation influences the effectiveness of international environmental agreements. One way that agreements can be made more effective during implementation is if they include implementation review mechanisms (IRMs). 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 review all the major pathways by which the operation of an IRM might influence the effectiveness of an agreement. We describe the ways that IRMs might affect how states calculate their interests and thus what kinds of international agreements they seek; we explore the ways that the operation of IRMs might promote learning; and we examine how IRMs operating at the international level might affect domestic politics. In many of these areas there are well-developed bodies of existing research that are relevant to studying IRMs. However, the issue-area of international environmental politics differs from other issue-areas such as trade and arms control and thus offers some opportunities to build and test new theories. Here we identify the major areas where research on environmental IRMs can help test existing theories and build new ones. Those areas include: 1) the role of IRMs in managing the process of standard-setting; 2) the roles of IRMs in verification of compliance and in promoting the verifiability of agreements; 3) how highly decentralized information about performance and compliance is managed by IRMs and the parties to agreements; 4) how IRMs can help manage various forms of complexity that arise in negotiating and managing international agreements; and 5) whether IRM functions make a larger contribution to effectiveness when they work in conjunction with hard law agreements (e.g. formally ratified treaties) or soft law. As a result of this exercise and the empirical paper that complements this theoretical treatment, we have research underway in four of these five areas (all except item #1). The paper also identifies two major themes that might be given further research in the future: the role of IRMs in affecting the learning process at the international and domestic levels; and, the ways that IRMs make denser linkages between international and domestic politics. Finally, the paper includes an annex that uses the major ideas to illustrate the practical options that policy makers confront when designing IRMs.
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