The power of presidency in UN climate change negotiations: comparison between Denmark and Mexico

Original Paper


In December 2010, the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ended with adopting Cancun Agreements as official decisions under the UN process. The international community determined the meeting a success. This was a substantial change compared to the previous year’s Copenhagen climate conference, which failed to reach consensus at the official level and thus having come under severe criticism as “diplomatic failure.” This article aims to explain the stark contrast between the two consecutive COP meetings and argues that the leadership style of the president of the conference is one important factor propelling negotiations forward. While the current literature scarcely addresses the role of the president, this article explores multiple variables that condition the president’s effectiveness in moving negotiations forward. This article concludes that the Mexican government successfully chaired the negotiations with excellent agenda management and process management capability, which the Danish government lacked. In particular, its transparent and embracing manner in handling subgroup meetings and the production of a single negotiation text facilitated trust among negotiators, which in turn made the parties tend to cooperate better. More importantly, the case study reveals that the Mexican government had a significant influence on given conditions of the negotiation process, such as the international environment surrounding the negotiation and the decision-making rules.


Climate change negotiation Power of chair Chairmanship in multilateral negotiations Effectiveness of chair Leadership of president of COP UNFCCC COP 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kangwon National University, School of LawChuncheonRepublic of Korea

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