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Flexibility Provisions in Multilateral Environmental Treaties

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  • Boockmann, Bernhard
  • Thurner, Paul W.

Abstract

In international politics, intergovernmental treaties provide the rules of the game. Similar to private law, treaty designers face a trade-off between flexibility to adjust to unforeseen contingencies and the danger that the binding nature of the treaty and hence, the level of commitment by treaty members, is being undermined if the treaty can be amended too easily. In this paper, we address this problem in the analytical framework of institutional economics, drawing in particular on the incomplete contracts literature. Furthermore, we derive preliminary hypotheses and operational concepts for the measurement of flexibility in international treaties. Based on 400 treaties and supplementary agreements from the field of international environmental law, we provide new insights into the combined application of rules for adoption and entry into force of amendments, as well as provisions for conflict resolution and interpretative development. Using correspondence analysis, we show that treaty provisions can be represented in a two-dimensional property space, where treaties can be arrayed according to the degree of institutionalisation as well as along a flexibility dimension.

Suggested Citation

  • Boockmann, Bernhard & Thurner, Paul W., 2002. "Flexibility Provisions in Multilateral Environmental Treaties," ZEW Discussion Papers 02-44, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:674
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Gerlak & Jonathan Lautze & Mark Giordano, 2011. "Water resources data and information exchange in transboundary water treaties," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 179-199, May.
    2. Gabriele Spilker & Vally Koubi, 2016. "The effects of treaty legality and domestic institutional hurdles on environmental treaty ratification," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 223-238, April.
    3. Benjamin Bagozzi, 2015. "The multifaceted nature of global climate change negotiations," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 439-464, December.

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