In her recent blog for the Project Syndicate, Anne-Marie Slaughter, former president of the American Society of International Law, offers an optimistic take on the non-binding nature of the Paris Agreement. As she argues: “its deficits in this regard are its greatest strengths as a model for effective global governance in the twenty-first century.”
She acknowledges that “by traditional international legal standards, the Paris agreement is essentially a statement of good intentions.” But in her view, that is precisely why it has a good chance of working.
“Tackling a problem as complex and fast-moving as climate change would be impossible with permanent, binding commitments”, Slaughter argues. Unform top-down obligations could not be sensitive to the capacities of 195 diverse countries “– from the desperately poor or conflict-ridden to the highly developed.”
Slaughter is convinced that by substituting transparency for compliance, the negotiators in Paris are shifting to a new kind of global governance, one that “substitutes rolling processes for fixed rules”, a new strategy “far better suited to the kinds of global problems we face today.”
“The Paris agreement is a sprawling, rolling, overlapping set of national commitments brought about by a broad conglomeration of parties and stakeholders. It is not law. It is a bold move toward public problem solving on a global scale.” According to Anne-Marie Slaughter it may well be the only approach that can work.
- Anne-Marie Slaughters blog: The Paris Approach to Global Governance