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This subject provides an in-depth examination of negotiated instruments as a means of addressing international environmental problems. It focuses on legally binding agreements between states - that is, treaties - but also explores other types of negotiated instruments such as declarations and codes of conduct, which may be non-binding or involve non-state actors. The subject analyses issues of treaty negotiation and design by comparing the development of different environmental agreements, including the Montreal Ozone Protocol, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and the World Heritage Convention. At the end of the subject, students will apply what they have learned in a mock negotiation.
This subject will focus on the functions of international environmental agreements, how they are negotiated and designed, and how they develop and evolve over time. Subject materials will include case studies of particular environmental negotiations and international relations explanations of environmental negotiations, including treaty design choices.
Principal topics include:
- Why do states negotiate environmental agreements? (costs and benefits, normative factors, domestic politics)
- Categorising agreements: legal/non-legal, constitutive/regulatory, global/regional
- Pre-negotiations: determining the negotiating forum and mandate
- Negotiating process: actors (coalitions/groups, chairperson, secretariat, NGOs), decision-making rules, organisation (inter-sessional meetings, open and closed sessions, means of resolving 'crunch' issues), adoption
- Treaty design: legal form; architecture; breadth; depth, types, and differentiation of obligations; institutions; mechanisms to promote participation, compliance, and flexibility; entry-into-force requirements
- Drafting techniques and, ways of resolving differences
- Treaty development: protocols, amendment, decisions of parties, interpretation
- International relations explanations.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of international environmental treaty law
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess international environmental agreements
- Have a sophisticated understanding of treaty design and treaty drafting issues
- Understand and be able to apply techniques to resolve differences in international environmental negotiations
- Gain experience in making oral presentations and negotiating agreements.
Last updated: 3 November 2022