عنوان مقاله [English]
The wide-ranging nature of environmental issues, as well as the epistemological consensus on the urgency of threats to environmental degradation have led countries in recent decades to establish multiple regimes to address environmental issues under multilateral agreements. However, in practice, with a few exceptions, these regimes have not been very effective in terms of adaptability and compliance. The purpose of this article is to answer this question: “why despite the growing awareness of the international community about the threats posed by environmental degradation, the cooperation of governments in practice has been challenged? The authors argue that the different positions of countries in the international system have led to the formation of systems of different cognitive correlations and collective identities among them resulting in differences in the degree of institutionalization of environmental values and reduced effective cooperation of governments in effective regimes to address these threats. The research method is based on counterfactual conditionals.
To do research, authors based on constructivist analysis framework, use “counterfactual argument” as a methodological tool for explaining international environmental regimes. Counterfactuals make claims about events that did not actually occur. It is argued in this paper that such propositions play a necessary and fundamental, if often implicit and underdeveloped, role in the efforts of scientists to assess their hypotheses about the causes of the phenomena they study. The argument is that if environmental values and norms were sufficiently institutionalized in countries, the effectiveness of environmental cooperation and regimes would increase.
While today states may show an increasing readiness to accept that global environmental protection is a common concern of humankind, they do not yet constitute a community that, in the spirit of international solidarity and justice, acts in concert for achieving this end. States are still far from taking joint protective and remedial environmental action that suffices to achieve the aim of preserving and administering our common natural heritage for the benefit of the present and future generations.
The basic ideas of international solidarity and justice should constitute the theoretical starting point for constructing an international legal framework of environmental and developmental cooperation between the North and South. However, both perceptions, because of their abstractness and vagueness, only give some rough direction to the way in which both sides should shape their future inter-relationship in substantive and procedural terms. Therefore, they should be understood as sources for developing more meaningful instruments that might bridge the North-South divide in practice.
Despite the spread of international institutions and regimes –which are mostly created after "The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment" in Stockholm (1972) - they have failed to minimize the threats posed by destructive environmental practices. In other words, despite the global consensus on the dangers of environmental degradation, state cooperation has not been successful in practice except in a few cases, such as the Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer regime, the Antarctic Convention, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). That is, many international agreements have either been incompletely ratified, or except a few cases, countries' compliance rates are weak in practice. Two groups of international relations scholars have responded to this question. The first group is those who, in the context of mainstream theories or rationalists, believe that anarchy and its consequences, such as free-riding, is a major factor in reducing the incentives for governments to cooperate on environmental issues. Critical approaches, by contrast, argue that the international system is not anarchic, but rather is hierarchical in nature. In this system, capitalist countries are at the top and developing countries are at the bottom. Contrary to the above approaches, this article argues that the problem of inefficiency of environmental cooperation is due to the lack of institutionalization of environmental values. The authors believe that countries have a different definition and understanding of the status of environmental threats due to their different position in the international system. This perception has led to differences in the institutionalization of environmental values and the reduction of effectiveness of international environmental regimes, like “sustainable development”, “common but differentiated responsibilities”, “equitable participation”, and etc. Findings show that by changing the perceptions and understanding about the nature and environment, as well as by implementing reforms in the mechanisms and processes of decision-making system, it is possible to help improve the efficiency of environmental regimes.
The North and South country's issues due to their position in the international system, do not have enough consensus on environmental principles and norms. During international negotiations, although they have had a minimal consensus on the enactment of these norms, it varies from commitment to these norms according to the internal conditions of countries. However, we should not consider the ineffectiveness of the international environmental regimes as unlikely. The successful environmental regimes, such as the ozone layer or the ruling regime on the Rhine River, show any progress in the effectiveness of environmental regimes is due to the approach of states' definition of the situation. According to that, if South and North countries converge their perceptions of the natural system, they can gradually take effective practical steps to form effective governance in the field of environmental issues.