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 5: Influence of Non-state Actors in Governance of the Rhine

Tun Myint


One clear lesson learned from the failure of international laws to clean the Rhine water pollution analyzed in the previous chapter is that it could not be solved by statecentric politics alone. As we analyzed in the previous chapter, the issues and interests in governance processes were largely driven by the local communities and industries, while the mechanism of governance to address the issues and interests was solely dictated by the officials of riparian states. The analysis of IWT will provide an understanding of how non-state actors from the local layer began to lose faith in statecentric legal mechanisms and how they emerged to influence the formal legal and policy processes at the national and transnational layers. The IWT case further amplifies, as self-evidence, the failure of achieving objectives and goals by the statecentric, legally binding Chemical Convention and Chloride Convention. After analyzing IWT, I examine the interplay of issues, interests and actors in the governance processes of RAP, which was an action-oriented, soft-law regime. It was a transformed regime designed from two legally binding regimes analyzed in Chapter 4. The analysis of RAP shows how issues, interests and actors across local, national and transnational layers are linked and how it produced results that had not been achieved by the Chemical Convention and Chloride Convention. This institutional transformation realizing the polycentricity of environmental governance in the Rhine is unprecedented in the history of Rhine governance. It was a major shift in thinking and by no means a small matter when...

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