Compliance Theory

Ronald B. Mitchell

in The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552153
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 Compliance Theory

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International lawyers and legal scholars often assess the effects of international environmental agreements (IEAs) in terms of the extent to which states comply with their commitments. International relations scholars tend to examine IEA effects through a broader set of questions. They are concerned with any behavioural or environmental changes that can be attributed to an IEA – whether these changes involve compliance or not and regardless of whether these changes were desired, unintended, or even perverse. International relations scholars also focus on the reasons why states change their behaviour and what aspects, if any, of an IEA explain those behavioural changes. To see the difference between these approaches, consider four categories of behaviour: treaty-induced compliance, coincidental compliance, good faith non-compliance, and intentional non-compliance. This article reviews the theoretical terrain and shows that nominally ‘competing’ perspectives have different insights to offer those seeking to improve the practice of international environmental law.

Keywords: international environmental agreements; international relations; behavioural changes; environmental changes; compliance; international environmental law

Article.  13028 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law ; Environment and Energy Law

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