Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Compliance Continuum
TRANSNATIONAL GOVERNANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE, p. 387, Gerd Winter, ed., Cambridge University Press, 2005
14 Pages Posted: 28 May 2012 Last revised: 30 May 2012
Date Written: 2005
In the context of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) much academic thought has been devoted to compliance techniques, with most theorists propounding either a managerial or an enforcement-oriented approach. While the managerial approach focuses on compliance strategies that direct attention to the causes of non-compliance and attempt to manage them through transparency, dispute settlement and capacity-building, the enforcement approach focuses on the creation of costs or the removal of benefits in order to ensure compliance. Furthermore, while the former theory views international law as effecting a "compliance pull," the latter views international law as subordinate to the interests of rational states. This article aims to broaden this debate, arguing that the use of constructivist international relation theory and an 'interactional' understanding of international law can complement both dominant theories and frame the question in terms of a "compliance continuum."
Constructivism views international law as neither subordinate to the interests of states nor as imposed social control, preferring instead to categorize it as a "shared understanding" formed through social interaction. In this view, the internal legitimacy of international law, its binding force and its compliance pull are all inextricably linked. Due to a narrow focus on formal indicators of the strength of international law, both the management and enforcement-oriented theories may miss or at least undervalue important parts of the compliance picture. Therefore, by focusing more on internal legitimacy factors, the constructivist-inspired interactional theory illuminates a wider range of options - and arguably prerequisites - for effective compliance strategies.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation