International Organization


The politics of international regime formation: managing natural resources and the environment

Oran R. Younga1

a1 Adjunct Professor of Government, Senior Fellow of the Dickey Endowment, and Director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and Senior Fellow of the Center for Northern Studies, Wolcott, Vermont.


Why do actors in international society succeed in forming institutional arrangements or regimes to cope with some transboundary problems but fail to do so in connection with other, seemingly similar, problems? This article employs a threefold strategy to make progress toward answering this question. The first section prepares the ground by identifying and critiquing the principal models embedded in the existing literature on regime formation, and the second section articulates an alternative model, called institutional bargaining. The third section employs this alternative model to derive some hypotheses about the determinants of success in institutional bargaining and uses these hypotheses, in a preliminary way, to illuminate the process of regime formation in international society. To lend empirical content to the argument, the article focuses throughout on problems relating to natural resources and the environment.