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Ideas, Interests, and State Preferences: The Making of Multilateral Environmental Agreements with Trade Stipulations

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Three multilateral environmental agreements (the Washington Convention, 1973, the Montreal Protocol, 1987, and the Basel Convention, 1989) attach a prominent role to trade regulations as a means of realizing environmental goals. Thus they display a treaty-based consensus that in order to realize environmental goals it is necessary to establish a linkage between environmental protection and trade rules. As countries from all parts of the world have acceded to the three agreements, they have expressed their endeavours to adopt global environmental policies. The article elaborates how environmental ideas and economic interests, between and across countries on different levels of income, shape state preferences and are applied to persuade decision makers in different parts of the world to adopt and implement the three agreements. In that process, establishing different types of linkages between environmental and non-environmental issues is an important means of consensus dynamics. The conclusion is that interest-based approaches are basic to explaining state preferences in relation to intersections between global environmental policies and trade policies. Idea-based challenges may offer a useful supplement, rather than an independent alternative, to interest-based approaches.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Danish Institute of International Affairs

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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