Global environmental problems pose important diplomatic and legal challenges to the international community. The nature of these problems requires an unprecedented degree of international cooperation both in terms of scientific research and the harmonization of regulations that is achieved through negotiation. Scientific uncertainty, the complexity of the issues, and the wide range of actors have shaped a complicated negotiating process.
Earth Negotiations develops a phased-process model that can enable greater understanding of the process by which international environmental agreements are negotiated. By breaking down the negotiating process into a series of phases and turning points, it is easier to analyze the roles of the different actors, the management of issues, the formation of groups and coalitions, and the art of consensus building. Six discernible phases and five associated turning points within the process of multilateral environmental negotiation are identified and explained. Ratification/Implementation. The model is then used to examine relationships among the phases and turning points and between the processes and the outcome to see if there is anything that occurs in the earlier phases of negotiation that affects subsequent phases and if there is anything in the process that may have an effect on the outcome. The overall goal is to determine what lessons can be learned from past cases of multilateral environmental negotiation in order to help both practitioners and scholars strengthen the negotiating process and the quality of its results.
Pamela S. Chasek has a PhD in international studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University. She is the founder and editor of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, a reporting service on United Nations environment and development negotiations. She is currently a visiting assistant professor and director of international studies at Manhattan College.