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International Environmental Governance: Managing Fragmentation through Institutional Connection

Karen N. Scott • 14-10-2011
Scott, Karen N. International Environmental Governance: Managing Fragmentation through Institutional Connection. Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol. 12, No. 1, Jun 2011: 177-216.
International Environmental Governance: Managing Fragmentation through Institutional Connection

This article argues that these governance strategies represent an important mechanism for managing the consequences of fragmentation and improving the effectiveness of international environmental governance

The 'fragmentation' of international law is used as a term of description and - more commonly - as a lament. It emphasises the isolation and disconnect between regimes and institutions and has particular resonance within international environmental law; a complex regulatory field comprising multiple regimes and institutions giving rise to overlapping and, occasionally, conflicting legal and policy mandates. This article will focus on the extent to which environmental governance strategies, in particular, the creation of formal cooperative arrangements and other institutional connections between multilateral environmental agreements ('MEAs'), can be deployed, not just to manage the consequences of overlap and outright conflict between regimes, but also to maximise the benefits that arise from a confluence between MEA mandates. This article will argue that these governance strategies represent an important mechanism for managing the consequences of fragmentation and improving the effectiveness of international environmental governance. Nevertheless, closer cooperation and institutional integration among MEAs also raise serious questions relating to the accountability of the regime to its state parties and, more generally, to the legitimacy of that regime. Moreover, the impact of this new form of international environmental governance potentially extends beyond the realm of international environmental law; these governance strategies arguably challenge the fundamentals of the international legal system itself: who we regard as participants within the system, what the sources of international law are and even international law's ultimate basis in consent.

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Tags: environmental law,fragmentation,international bureaucracies,Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA)