35 years of Multilateral Environmental Agreements ratifications: a network analysis
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With the ratification of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) the countries of the international community or of intentional communities—be they political, economic, financial, securitarian or strategic—endow these instruments of international cooperation with significant autonomy. From the 3550 dates of ratification of these MEAs recorded from 1979 to mid-September 2014, we produce a graph whose vertices are the 48 MEAs (ratified at least once) and whose links are induced by the succession of ratifications in time. On this basis we propose a diagnosis on the international acceptance of this type of legal instruments and their vulnerability in a global context that builds on the change in the balance of powers as a result of globalization, the break of the bipolar and then unipolar system, and the rise of new powers. Thus, it appears that a global environmental order has been promoted and implemented with some success in the 90s mainly by liberal Western countries who were then able to lead other countries less likely to bind to the fulfillment of environmental obligations. However, the expansion of this global environmental order now seems frozen, due to the current crisis of multilateralism. The rise of many countries, particularly in the South, whose environmental, political and economic weight grew, confronted with the “stable community” formed in the past 35 years suggests that there is a real power shift in the international arena and consequently, multilateralism needs to reflect this new reality. In other terms, the global environmental order is being slowly reformed. As a consequence, the treaties formed clusters in the past but they did not follow the same pattern since the twenty-first century began.
KeywordsMultilateral Environmental Agreements Graph theory Emerging countries Country intentional community Ratification dynamics Global environmental order
This study was partly founded by the University of Lyon III, under the project “Multi-scale Complexity of Environmental Law”. We would like to thank Radboud Winkels and Nicola Lettieri for giving us the opportunity to discuss about this work during the workshop Network Analysis in Law which was held in Krakow (Poland) on December 2014.
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