Skip to main content

Regime Complexes as a Model of Multilateral Governance: The Case of the Environment

  • 175 Accesses

Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)

Abstract

In the early 2000s, scholars of global environmental governance were questioning regime complexes as the potential new form of multilateral governance. Characterized by the interactions between different international regimes governing a common subject matter, “regime complexes” were, at the time, praised for their flexibility, horizontality and adaptability. Have regime complexes now fulfilled their promises as multilateral governance arrangements? This contribution aims at dealing with this important research question in three steps. First, it reviews the literature on international regime complexes and questions the evolving definition of the concept that has now competing interpretations. Second, it presents the current state of knowledge on specific regime complexes from the environmental field, a field of study where many regime complexes have been identified and analyzed. Such examples enable to evaluate the heuristic potential of regime complexes as a concept to better understand global environmental multilateralism. Third, it questions the utility of regime complexes as multilateral governance arrangements in domains that go beyond the environmental field. Overall, the contribution presents an update of existing research on regime complexes and questions its relevance in face of the current new dynamics shaping multilateralism.

Keywords

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD   99.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD   129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

References

  • Abbott, K. W. (2012). The transnational regime complex for climate change. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 30(4), 571–590.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abbott, K. W., & Faude, B. (2022). Hybrid institutional complexes in global governance. The Review of International Organizations, 17, 263–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abbott, K. W., Green, J. F., & Keohane, R. O. (2016). Organizational ecology and institutional change in global governance. International Organization, 70(2), 247–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aykut, S. C., Foyer, J., & Morena, E. (Eds.). (2017). Globalising the climate. COP21 and the climatisation of global debates. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Betts, A. (2010). The refugee regime complex. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 29(1), 12–37.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Biermann, F., & Kim, R. (2020). (Eds.). Architectures of earth system governance: Institutional complexity and structural transformation. Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Biermann, F., Pattberg, P., van Asselt, H., & Zelli, F. (2009). The fragmentation of global governance architectures: A framework for analysis. Global Environmental Politics, 9(4), 14–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Biermann, R. (2009). Inter-organizationalism in theory and practice. Studia Diplomatica, 62(3), 7–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Drezner, D. W. (2009). The power and peril of international regime complexity. Perspectives on Politics, 7(1), 65–70.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dupont, C. (2015). Climate policy integration into EU energy policy: Progress and prospects. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dupuits, E. (2017). La biodiversité entre articulation des réseaux communautaires et autochtones et instrumentalisation des arènes climatiques internationales. In D. Compagnon & E. Rodary (Eds.), Les politiques de biodiversité (pp. 103–126). Les presses de Sciences Po.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Dupuits, E. (2021). Reversing climatisation: Transnational grassroots networks and territorial security discourse in a fragmented global climate governance. International Politics, 58, 563–581.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Earsom, J., & Delreux, T. (2021). Evaluating EU responsiveness to the evolution of the international regime complex on climate change. International Environmental Agreements, 21, 711–728.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Earsom, J., & Delreux, T. (2023). One big conversation: The EU’s climate diplomacy across the international regime complex on the Paris Agreement negotiations. Journal of Common Market Studies, 61(1), 198–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Faude, B., & Groβe-Kreul, F. (2020). Let’s justify! How regime complexes enhance the normative legitimacy of global governance. International Studies Quarterly, 64(2), 431–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fravel, M. T., Lavelle, K., & Odgaard, L. (2021). China engages the Arctic: A great power in a regime complex. Asian Security. https://doi.org/10.1080/14799855.2021.1986008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gehring, T., & Faude, B. (2014). A theory of emerging order within institutional complexes: How competition among regulatory international institutions leads to institutional adaptation and division of labor. Review of International Organizations, 9(4), 471–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Giessen, L. (2013). Reviewing the main characteristics of the international forest regime complex and partial explanations for its fragmentation. The International Forestry Review, 15(1), 60–70.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gomez-Mera, L. (2016). Regime complexity and global governance: The case of trafficking in persons. European Journal of International Relations, 22(3), 566–595.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gomez-Mera, L., Morin, J.-F., & van de Graaf, T. (2020). Regime complexes. In F. Biermann & R. Kim (Eds.), Architectures of earth system governance: Institutional complexity and structural transformation (pp. 137–157). Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Haas, E. (1980). Why collaborate? Issue-linkage and international regimes. World Politics, 32(3), 372.

    Google Scholar 

  • Helfer, L. R. (2004). Regime shifting: The TRIPs agreement and new dynamics of international intellectual property lawmaking. Yale Journal of International Law, 29(1), 1–82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann, S. C. (2009). Overlapping institutions in the realm of international security: The case of NATO and ESDP. Perspectives on Politics, 7(1), 45–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann, S. C. (2019). The politics of overlapping organizations: Hostage-taking, forum-shopping and brokering. Journal of European Public Policy, 26(6), 883–905.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holeindre, J.-V. (2017). La ruse et la force. Une autre histoire de la stratégie. Perrin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hollway, J., & Koskinen, J. (2016). Multilevel embeddedness: The case of the global fisheries governance complex. Social Networks, 44, 281–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kanie, N., & Biermann, F. (2017). Governing through goals: Sustainable development goals as governance innovation. MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kellow, A. (2012). Multi-level and multi-arena governance: The limits of integration and the possibilities of forum shopping. International Environmental Agreements, 12(4), 327–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keohane, R. O., & Victor, D. G. (2011). The regime complex for climate change. Perspectives on Politics, 9(1), 7–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, R. E. (2020). Is global governance fragmented, polycentric, or complex? The state of the art of the network approach. International Studies Review, 22(4), 903–931.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, R. E., & Mackey, B. (2014). International environmental law as a complex adaptive system. International Environment Agreements, 14, 5–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Krasner, S. D. (1982). Structural causes and regime consequences: Regimes as intervening variables. International Organization, 36(2), 185–205.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kuyper, J. (2015). Deliberative capacity in the intellectual property rights regime complex. Critical Policy Studies, 9(3), 3173–3238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Margulis, M. E. (2013). The regime complex for food security: Implications for the global hunger challenge. Global Governance, 19, 53–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mitchell, R. B. (2020). International environmental agreements database project (Version 2020.1). http://iea.uoregon.edu/

  • Morin, E. (1990). Introduction à la Complexité. Le Seuil.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morin, E. (2007). Restricted complexity, general complexity. In C. Gershenson, D. Aerts, & B. Edmonds (Eds.), Worldviews science and US (pp. 5–29). World Scientific Publishing.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Morin, J-F., Louafi, S., Orsini, A., & Oubenal, M. (2017a). Boundary organizations in regime complexes: A social network profile of IPBES. Journal of International Relations and Development, 20(3), 543–577.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morin, J-F., Pauwelyn, J., & Hollway, J. (2017b). The trade regime as a complex adaptive system: Exploration and exploitation of environmental norms in trade agreements. Journal of International Economic Law, 20(2), 365–390.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morin, J.-F., & Orsini, A. (2014). Policy coherency and regime complexes: The case of genetic resources. Review of International Studies, 40(2), 303–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morse, J. C., & Keohane, R. O. (2014). Contested multilateralism. Review of International Organisations, 9, 385–412.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oberthür, S., & Gehring, T. (2006). Institutional interaction in global environmental governance: The case of the Cartagena Protocol and the World Trade Organization. Global Environmental Politics, 6(2), 26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Orsini, A. (2013). Multi-Forum non-state actors: Navigating the regime complexes for forestry and genetic resources. Global Environmental Politics, 13(3), 34–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Orsini, A. (2017). The negotiation burden of institutional interactions: Non-state organizations and the international negotiations on forests. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 29(4), 1421–1440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Orsini, A., Le Prestre, P., Haas, P. M., Brosig, M., Pattberg, P., Widerberg, O., Gomez-Mera, L., Morin, J.-F., Harrison, N. E., Geyer, R., & Chandler, D. (2020). Complex systems and international governance. International Studies Review, 22(4), 1008–1038.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Orsini, A., Morin, J.-F., & Young, O. R. (2013). Regime complexes: A buzz, a boom or a boost for global governance? Global Governance, 19(1), 27–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Panke, D., & Friedrichs, G. M. (2023). Regime complexity as an asset? The negotiations of the arms trade treaty. Journal of Global Security Studies, 8(1), 17.

    Google Scholar 

  • Papin, M. (2020). Institutional complexity is complexity with an adjective. Complexity, Governance & Networks, 6(1) (Special Issue: Global Governance in Complex Times: Exploring New Concepts and Theories on Institutional Complexity), 82–93.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pratt, T. (2018). Deference and hierarchy in international regime complexes. International Organization, 72(3), 561–590.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raustiala, K., & Victor, D. (2004). The regime complex for plant genetic resources. International Organization, 32(2), 301.

    Google Scholar 

  • TREND. (2022). https://www.chaire-epi.ulaval.ca/en/trend

  • Uji, A. (2022). The shadow of history in inter-organizational cooperation for the environment. The Journal of Environment & Development, 31(4), 352–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van de Graaf, T. (2013). Fragmentation in global energy governance: Explaining the creation of IRENA. Global Environmental Politics, 13(3), 14–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verdier, D. (2022). Bargaining strategies for governance complex games. The Review of International Organizations, 17, 349–371.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Young, O. R. (1989). International cooperation: Building regimes for natural resources and the environment. Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Young, O. R., & Kim, J. (2021). Next steps in Arctic Ocean Governance Meeting the challenge of coordinating a dynamic regime complex. Marine Policy, 133, 104726.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amandine Orsini .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Orsini, A. (2023). Regime Complexes as a Model of Multilateral Governance: The Case of the Environment. In: Guilbaud, A., Petiteville, F., Ramel, F. (eds) Crisis of Multilateralism? Challenges and Resilience. The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39671-7_13

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics