The Implementation and Effectiveness of International Environmental Commitments

From Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation

The Implementation and Effectiveness of International Environmental Commitments

Theory and Practice

Edited by David G. Victor, Kal Raustiala and Eugene B. Skolnikoff





Because environmental problems do not respect borders, their solutions often require international cooperation and agreements. The contributors to this book examine how international environmental agreements are put into practice. Their main concern is effectiveness—the degree to which such agreements lead to changes in behavior that help to solve environmental problems. Their focus is on implementation—the process that turns commitments into action, at both domestic and international levels. Implementation is the key to effectiveness because these agreements aim to constrain not just governments but a wide array of actors, including individuals, firms, and agencies whose behavior does not change simply because governments have made international commitments.

The book is divided into two parts. Part I looks at international systems for implementation review, through which parties share information, review performance, handle noncompliance, and adjust commitments. Part II looks at implementation at the national level, with particular attention to participation by governmental and nongovernmental actors and to problems in states with economies in transition. The book includes fourteen case studies that cover eight major areas of international environmental regulation: conservation and preservation of fauna and flora, stratospheric ozone depletion, pollution in the Baltic Sea, pollution in the North Sea, trade in hazardous chemicals and pesticides, air pollution in Europe, whaling, and marine dumping of nuclear waste.

ContributorsSteinar Andresen, Juan Carlos di Primio, Owen Greene, Ronnie Hjorth, Vladimir Kotov, John Lanchbery, Elena Nikitina, Kal Raustiala, Alexei Roginko, Jon Birger Skjærseth, Eugene B. Skolnikoff, Olav Schram Stokke, David G. Victor, Jørgen Wettestad.Copublished with theInternational Institute for Applied Systems Analysis


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262220576 758 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$55.00 X ISBN: 9780262720281 758 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


David G. Victor

David G. Victor has a Ph.D. in Political Sciencefrom MIT and received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1987. He is Director of the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, where his research focuses on electricity and gas markets, energy services for the poor, and international environmental law. He teaches regulation at Stanford Law School.

Kal Raustiala

Eugene B. Skolnikoff

Eugene Skolnikoff is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at MIT and a local affiliate at CES at Harvard University.


  • In addition to its sheer volume of information, this massive study makes an important conceptual contribution by developing the concept of systems for implementation review: decentralized but interlocking arrangements for compile and interpreting data, reviewing performance, encouraging compliance and adjusting commitments. Well-designed systems of implementation review are international reviews are international institutions that make a difference.

    Robert O. Keohane

    Department of Political Science, Duke University

  • There is no way to summarize this book: it is rich in variety of experience, full of unexpected results, innovative in conceptualization, broad in environmental coverage, and ultimately wise in its conclusions. You can read the conclusions with profit, but conviction will come from absorbing the entire range of experience. An immense and successful effort.

    Thomas C. Schelling

    School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland