International Organization


Do regimes matter? Epistemic communities and Mediterranean pollution control

Peter M. Haasa1

a1 Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


International regimes have received increasing attention in the literature on international relations. However, little attention has been systematically paid to how compliance with them has been achieved. An analysis of the Mediterranean Action Plan, a coordinated effort to protect the Mediterranean Sea from pollution, shows that this regime actually served to empower a group of experts (members of an epistemic community), who were then able to redirect their governments toward the pursuit of new objectives. Acting in an effective transnational coalition, these new actors contributed to the development of convergent state policies in compliance with the regime and were also effective in promoting stronger and broader rules for pollution control. This suggests that in addition to providing a form of order in an anarchic international political system, regimes may also contribute to governmental learning and influence patterns of behavior by empowering new groups who are able to direct their governments toward new ends.