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The 'power of process': the impact of process management on multilateral negotiations

Monheim, Kai (2013) The 'power of process': the impact of process management on multilateral negotiations. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Multilateralism has repeatedly proven slow to address the critical challenges of our times. Negotiations on climate change in the UNFCCC process failed dramatically in Copenhagen in 2009, as did those on trade in Seattle in 1999 and on biosafety in Cartagena in the same year, to name only a few prominent fields. Ensuing negotiations made progress with the Cancún Agreements on climate in 2010, the Doha Development Agenda on trade in 2001, and the Biosafety Protocol in 2000. Countries lost precious time and resources through the initial collapses. So, why did these negotiations first fail, while they later succeeded under similar political circumstances? International Relations theory has largely focussed on the structural factors of interest and power to explain these outcomes. Yet, as structures often remained constant short- to mid-term and outcomes varied nevertheless, scholarship has increasingly paid attention to process, from the agency of bureaucracies and individuals to discourse analysis. This thesis connects to this trend towards non-structural explanations, and intends to refine and complement them. In the tradition of regime theory, it eventually proposes a comprehensive negotiation framework that paints a holistic picture of negotiation dynamics to answer whether and how the process management of a multilateral negotiation by the organizers, such as the host government and the UN, alters the probability of agreement. It compares the in-depth case pair of the above-mentioned climate negotiations with case pairs from trade and biosafety. The project draws on data from 62 in-depth interviews with chief climate and trade negotiators, senior UN officials, and seasoned observers to discover what drove delegations in their final decision on agreement. It is complemented by participant observation at climate and trade summits between 2010 and 2012. The thesis finds that with process management, organizers hold a powerful tool in their hands to influence multilateral negotiations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © Kai Monheim
Supervisor: Falkner, Robert

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