10.2.8 Implementation and Compliance
Since SAR, political science analysis in the field of effectiveness and implementation
of international environmental agreements has focused on the process of implementation.
That is, how intent is translated into action to solve international environmental
problems and what are the real effects of these efforts (Sand, 1992; Haas et
al., 1993; Young, 1994, 1999; Brown Weiss and Jacobson, 1998; Victor et
al., 1998). Analysts distinguish implementation and compliance
(Chayes and Chayes, 1993, 1995; Mitchel, 1994; Jacobson and Brown Weiss, 1995;
Cameron et al., 1996; Underdal, 1998; Victor et al., 1998; Brown
Weiss, 1999). See Box 10.1. for the definition of political
|Box 10.1. Definitions of Political Science Terms
Implementation refers to the actions (legislation or regulations, judicial
decrees, or other actions) that governments take to translate international
accords into domestic law and policy (Jacobson and Brown Weiss, 1995;
Underdal, 1998; Brown Weiss, 1999). It includes those events and activities
that occur after authoritative public policy directives have been issued,
such as the effort to administer the substantive impacts on people and
events (Mazmanian and Sabatier, 1983). It is important to distinguish
between the legal implementation of international commitments (in national
law) and the effective implementation (measures that induce changes in
the behaviour of target groups; see Zürn, 1996).
Compliance is a matter of whether and to what extent countries do adhere
to the provisions of the accord (Jacobson and Brown Weiss, 1995; Underdal,
1998). The concept of compliance includes implementation, but it is generally
broader. Compliance focuses not only on whether implementing measures
are in effect, but also on whether there is compliance with the implementing
actions. Compliance measures the degree to which the actors whose behaviour
is targetted by the agreement (whether they be local government units,
corporations, organizations, or individuals) conform to the implementing
measures and obligations (Brown Weiss, 1999).
Effectiveness measures the degree to which international environmental
accords lead to changes of behaviour that help to solve environmental
problems, that is the extent to which the commitment has actually influenced
behaviour in a way that advances the goals that inspired the commitment
(Victor et al., 1998).
Enforcement refers to the actions taken once violations occur. It is customarily
associated with the availability of formal dispute settlement procedures
and with penalties, sanctions, or other coercive measures to induce compliance
with obligations. Enforcement is part of the compliance process (Brown
Although compliance is an important matter for the outcome of an agreement,
it has to be distinguished from the effectiveness of the accord (Underdal, 1998;
Victor et al., 1998; Brown Weiss, 1999; Young, 1999). This refers to
the extent to which the commitment actually influences behaviour in a way that
advances the goals that inspired the commitment.
Discussions are underway on how to enforce international commitments, that
is to make parties to the international treaties conform with their international
obligations through application of various tools (penalties, sanctions, etc.).
Some researchers argue that enforcement might be especially difficult in international
systems and, thus, is often unlikely unless a party persistently fails to comply18.
Besides, non-compliance is frequently the product of incomplete planning and
miscalculation rather than a wilful act (Victor et al., 1998). Thus,
enforcement is often contrasted to the management of non-compliance and implementation
failures (non-compliance is a problem to be solved, not an action to be punished),
which includes greater transparency, non-adversarial forms of dispute resolution,
technical and economic assistance, persuasion, and negotiation (Haas et al.,
1993; Chayes and Chayes, 1995; Sand, 1995; Downs et al., 1996; Zürn,
1996; Peterson, 1997; Victor et al., 1998; Vogel and Kessler, 1998).
However, there are also good reasons to consider coercive enforcement
techniquesin cases of severe violations they may be more effective. In
this debate, standard solutions do not exist and a mixed approach seems to be
The challenge today is how decisions regarding compliance and implementation
of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol should be undertaken to make these international
mechanisms more effective in solving the problems of both combatting global
climate change and changes in the behaviour of the targets (Victor and Salt,
1995; ORiordan and Jäger, 1996; ORiordan, 1997; Soroos, 1997;
Grubb et al., 1999). Two crucial aspects of decision-making regarding
implementation of the international climate change regime are:
- how national governments have translated international commitments into
national rules and policies, and promote changes in behaviour of stakeholders;
- how international institutions have aided monitoring of implementation and
compliance, adherence to commitments, and adjustment of international rules
by the parties.
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