The Effectiveness of International Environmental Regimes

From Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation

The Effectiveness of International Environmental Regimes

Causal Connections and Behavioral Mechanisms

Edited by Oran R. Young





To be effective, an international regime must play a significant role in solving or at least managing the problem that led to its creation. But because regimes—social institutions composed of roles, rules, and relationships—are not actors in their own right, they can succeed only by influencing the behavior of their members or actors operating under their members' jurisdiction.

This book examines how regimes influence the behavior of their members and those associated with them. It identifies six mechanisms through which regimes affect behavior and discusses the role of each through in-depth case studies of three major environmental concerns: intentional vessel-source oil pollution, shared fisheries, and transboundary acid rain. The behavioral mechanisms feature regimes as utility modifiers, as enhancers of cooperation, as bestowers of authority, as learning facilitators, as role definers, and as agents of internal realignments. The case studies show how these mechanisms can cause variations in effectiveness both across regimes and within individual regimes over time. One of the book's primary contributions is to develop methods to demonstrate which causal mechanisms come into play with specific regimes. It emphasizes the need to supplement conventional models assuming unitary and utility-maximizing actors to explain variations in regime effectiveness.

ContributorsLee G. Anderson, Ann Barrett, Marc A. Levy, Moira L. McConnell, Natalia Mirovitskaya, Ronald Mitchell, Don Munton, Elena Nikitina, Gail Osherenko, Alexei Roginko, Marvin Soroos, Olav Schram Stokke, Oran R. Young


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262240420 342 pp. | 6.1 in x 8.8 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262740234 342 pp. | 6.1 in x 8.8 in


Oran R. Young

Oran R. Young is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Institutional Dynamics: Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance (MIT Press) and other books.


  • There are few works that do such a thorough job of presenting developments in Japanese science to an English-speaking audience, and there is no book that deals in such detail with the science-policy interface in the environmental policy realm in Japan. This is a meticulously researched and well written book.

    Miranda A. Schreurs

    Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland

  • If the right people employ appropriate tools, the most malignant problems can be solved effectively. In demonstrating this most convincingly for international environmental regimes, the authors have at the same time mastered one of the most difficult methodological tasks in our discipline. This book is the most sound and fascinating account of international regime consequences that I know.

    Michael Zuern

    Professor for Transnational and International Relations, University of Bremen, and Director of the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies

  • The authors have produced a volume that has three core merits: First, its findings strengthen confidence in the effectiveness of international regimes; secondly, it demonstrates the usefulness of rigorous theory-led research based on comparative case studies; and thirdly, it excels in critical methodological self-reflection indicating clearly the reach and limits of its findings' validity. I am truly impressed by the authors' achievement in this volume.

    Volker Rittberger

    Institute of Political Science, Center for International Relations, University of Tuebingen, Germany

  • This important book breaks new ground in the study of international institutions and develops arguments that will undoubtedly stimulate additional research.

    Oran R. Youngge

    Professor of Environmental Studies, Dartmouth College

  • In the twenty-first century the world will confront the necessity of building effective international regime to govern and manage multiple global commons. This volume brings together a group of thoughtful scientists to confront how to analyze these problems and propose tentative solutions. Scholars interested in large-scale environmental problems will find this book invaluable.

    Elinor Ostrom

    Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, Indiana University

  • This collection makes significant contributions to our understanding ofhow international regimes can influence the behavior that matters for conserving natural resources and protecting the environment, and hence wha tconditions can make for more effective international environmental management.

    Edward A. Parson

    John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University