- Student Dissertation or Thesis
The literature on secretariats as a sub-set of international organizations, asserts
that these organizations have negligible influence on treaty implementation outcomes. This
dissertation examines the approaches used by secretariats as the network managers of
international conventions to influence international, environmental policy implementation. It
uses a field-based, comparative case study methodology to explain how and why secretariats
exert influence. In so doing it draws on extensive personal interviews with the executive heads
and personnel of three global, environmental convention secretariats. The conventions are:
Ramsar (1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl
Habitat); CITES (1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora); and CCAMLR (1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources). Selected national delegates to these conventions and non-state actors including
industry organizations, environmental NGOs and scientists were also interviewed.
The dissertation demonstrates that global environmental treaty secretariats exert a far greater
influence on the implementation of international conventions than is evident from the
literature, and that their influence derives from four previously unacknowledged sources. I
found that secretariats use informal, rather than formal, international and domestic
interorganizational networks; they form overt and covert strategic and interest-based alliances
with non-state actors; they use their informal networks to have a significant impact on
domestic or in-country policy implementation processes and outcomes; and they unwittingly use
conflict management and dispute resolution processes to manage and resolve conflicts that
inevitably arise in the course of treaty implementation.
Finally, I identify an interorganizational network management process by which secretariats
actively assist countries in transforming domestic implementation concepts into tangible
compliance strategies. I have called this process 'catalysis'. I suggest that catalysis is the
previously undiscovered 'missing link' between "implementation" and "compliance" as these
theories are currently identified in the literature.
Catalysis is no guarantee of compliance, but without entities such as activist secretariats in
each treaty system, it appears likely from my findings, that the level of compliance with
multilateral environmental accords would be considerably less.