The Study of International Regimes

Levy, M.A., Young, O.R., & Zuern, M. (1994). The Study of International Regimes. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-94-113

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Hundreds or even thousands of international legal instruments on "the environment" are in existence. What happens to international environmental agreements once they are signed, and how does the process of implementing such agreements influence their effectiveness? These are the questions that motivate the IIASA project "Implementation and Effectiveness of International Environmental Commitments (IEC)". Research teams are examining these questions from many angles and with different methods.

In this paper, the authors survey the literature on international "regimes". Regimes are social institutions that influence the behavior of states and their subjects. They consist of informal and formalized principles and norms, as well as specific rules and procedures. The term is explicitly broad and captures the unwritten understandings and relationships, as well as the formal legal agreements, that influence how states and individuals behave in any given issue-area. Scholarship over the last decade has elaborated how regimes are formed; this paper surveys that work and focuses on more recent scholarship that has turned from the formation of regimes to the question of what makes regimes "effective".

The paper is one foundation for IEC's effort to build a database about the characteristics of international regimes. The database will consist of key variables related to the formation and implementation of international agreements and will allow systematic use of historical evidence from a large number of cases. The goal is to make possible the testing of hypotheses and the drawing of general conclusions about which variables are causally linked to "effectiveness". Existing research has led to hypotheses and tests based on single case studies or small samples of cases, but conclusions have been difficult to generalize to other cases because variables are left uncontrolled and the social processes are complex. In contrast, the IEC effort will include all the major variables related to effectiveness. The team will employ experts in each case to perform the coding, thus allowing for assessments (including subjective evaluations) of a wide range of data.

The team is now preparing and testing a data protocol, as well as a manual that describes the major questions in the data protocol and how they should be answered. The protocol and manual will refine the variables we are coding and their relationship to major hypotheses.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: International Environmental Commitments (IEC)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:04
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:14

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