Governing International Rivers
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Governing International Rivers

Polycentric Politics in the Mekong and the Rhine

Tun Myint

This important book employs the theory of polycentricity, a system with several centers as an analytical concept to explain the multilayered international environmental governance of river basins. It introduces a new methodological framework to deconstruct and investigate the dynamics of citizens, states and non-state actors in world politics via the context of river basin governance.
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Chapter 1: Governance and International Rivers

Tun Myint


The institutional order of the world is in transformation as we progress into the twenty-first century. In all layers of human governance – global, transnational, national, subnational, local, neighborhood and household – the ways in which human individuals and associations interact and organize governance processes are changing over time. Scholars have maintained that this global transformation is due to the increased momentum of global interdependence, democratization, expansion of trade, technological innovation and global environmental changes (Sakamoto, 1994; Keohane and Ostrom, 1995; Krasner, 1995; Held and McGrew, 2000; Young et al., 2006). When the end of the Cold War opened up the fundamental problem of world order, the phenomenon of global transformation gained considerable attention from both practitioners and theorists. This global transformation is reconfiguring the future of the nation-state (hereafter, state) as well as the future of the international system as a whole. Although states remain central players in international politics, non-state actors (profit and not-for-profit actors) have made strikingly positive advances in the creation of transnational environmental regimes and in their effective functioning once they are in place (Princen and Finger, 1994; Lipschutz and Mayer, 1996; Wapner, 1996). The environmental governance in the Mekong and Rhine river basins are examples of the processes of institutional transformation. How and why are non-state actors and local communities influencing these transnational environmental regimes? How and why do transnational regimes transform their institutional order to face these challenges? How do the non-state sources of rule-making and rule-reconfiguring power influence transnational environmental governance? What are the...

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