Is There a Democracy – Civil Society Paradox in Global Environmental Governance?

Global Environmental Politics 13/1: 88–107.

Posted: 5 Dec 2017 Last revised: 12 Dec 2017

See all articles by Thomas Bernauer

Thomas Bernauer

ETH Zurich

Tobias Boehmelt

ETH Zürich

Vally Koubi

University of Bern - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 23, 2013

Abstract

Civil society is commonly assumed to have a positive effect on international cooperation. This paper sheds light on one important facet of this assumption: we examine the impact of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) on ratification behavior of countries vis-à-vis international environmental agreements (IEAs). The main argument of the paper focuses on a “democracy-civil society paradox”: although ENGOs have a positive effect on ratification of IEAs on average, this effect decreases with increasing levels of democracy. This argument is counter-intuitive and appears paradoxical because democracy is generally associated both with a more active civil society and more international cooperation. The reasons for this hypothesized effect pertain to public demand for environmental public goods provision, government incentives, and problems of collective action among ENGOs. To test the net effect of ENGOs on countries' ratification behavior, the paper uses a new dataset on ENGOs in the time-period 1973–2006. The results offer strong support for the presumed democracy–civil society paradox.

Suggested Citation

Bernauer, Thomas and Boehmelt, Tobias and Koubi, Vally, Is There a Democracy – Civil Society Paradox in Global Environmental Governance? (January 23, 2013). Global Environmental Politics 13/1: 88–107.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3080291

Thomas Bernauer (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich ( email )

Center for Comparative and International Studies
Building IFW, office 45.1, Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich 8092, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 6466 (Phone)
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HOME PAGE: http://www.ib.ethz.ch

Tobias Boehmelt

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

Vally Koubi

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Schanzeneckstrasse 1
Bern, CH-3001
Switzerland

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