A bold move toward public problem solving on a global scale? | Anne-Marie Slaughter on the Paris Agreement

CC BY 2.0 | ConexiónCOP Agencia de noticias / Flickr

CC BY 2.0 | ConexiónCOP Agencia de noticias / Flickr

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.

Read the full text on the Project Syndicate Website. For background reading on democracy and climate politics, see our last newsletter.

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