Getting beyond the lowest common denominator : Developing countries in global environmental negotiations
Developing countries in global environmental negotiations
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Lawrence E. Susskind.
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This study explores the collective negotiation behavior of the developing countries of the South in international environmental politics. The so-called 'South'-represented in global negotiations by Group of 77 (G77)-is an unwieldy and unlikely collective made up of over 130 countries displaying dramatically different economic conditions, ideological persuasions, political systems and geographic features and environmental endowments. Yet, for over 30 years now, the collective has demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of internal divisions as well as external threats. Although sometimes described as an economic collective 'of the poor', the South is, in fact, a political collective 'of the marginalized'. Its resilience stems from its member's strongly shared sense of exclusion from the international system and their collective desire to change the 'rules of the game'. This resilience, however, has often come at the cost of having to slip into 'lowest common denominator' positions. In following an 'asymmetrically prescriptive-descriptive' research approach, this study seeks to explore the nature of the 'South' as a negotiating collective and understand why it tends to slip into lowest common denominator positions. The study uses the case of global negotiations on the Desertification Convention and twelve experimental runs of a simulation-game (The Chlorine Game; conducted in four countries, with 191 players of 59 different nationalities).(cont.) The case-experience and the experimental results are analyzed using a heuristic framework developed to explore and explain strategic options available to collectives in international multilateral negotiations. Descriptively, the study concludes that the South tends to negotiate as a 'behavioral alignment' maintaining a relatively broad issue focus and investing relatively little in the internal organization. While this explains its 'lowest common denominator' tendency, it is nonetheless an understandable strategy given the South's chronic lack of resources and diversity. Prescriptively, the study suggests that the most desirable results for the South are likely to be in 'coalition mode' where the collective moves towards increased internal coordination and a more specific issue-focus. This will require concerted investment in more meaningful South-South negotiation prior to North-South negotiations and in the internal organization of the G77.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 331-361).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.