Global Governance of the Environment
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Global Governance of the Environment

Environmental Principles and Change in International Law and Politics

Afshin Akhtarkhavari

This timely book examines the role of environmental principles in changing international environmental law and politics, and argues for the importance of integrating environmental principles in the global governance of the environment.
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Chapter 9: Global Governance of the Environment: The Role and Function of Environmental Principles in Changing International Law and Politics

Afshin Akhtarkhavari


INTRODUCTION 9.1 There are two broad approaches to examining the role and function of environmental principles in changing international law and politics. The first explores how actors are socialised into internalising norms which influence their interests. This description of their role commonly assumes that norms are social facts that actors will consent to adopting. From this perspective, compliance with norms and an acceptance of their legitimacy are important issues. Social processes, like persuasion and influence, are relevant in this description of change because they socialise actors into adopting norms. Environmental principles can generate similar interests amongst actors who choose to adopt them. As a result actors will be more inclined to cooperate in developing rules and institutions at the international level. A study of the role of norms in changing international law and politics using this approach takes a narrow view of how actors’ interests and identities develop. That is, the significance and potential of environmental principles for change are assessed in terms of actors complying with their provisions. Alternatively, social learning examines whether and how groups of actors learn to be interested in new preferences and develop beliefs during their engagement or interactions with each other, either directly or diffusely, at the international level itself.1 The concept of 1 See chapter 2 of this book where the theories of international relations relating to social learning are described and developed for the purposes of this work. Also see chapter 4 where this distinction between socialisation and social learning in the...

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