International Treaty Enforcement as a Public Good: Institutional Deterrent Sanctions in International Environmental Agreements


The problem of compliance with treaty obligations has been an area of active study in international environmental law because of its importance to the effectiveness of environmental treaties. This paper examines the problem of enforcement as an important and distinct component of compliance. First, the paper describes the general nature of the problem and the theoretical approaches that have been put forward as alternatives. Second, the paper then locates a key difficulty of environmental treaty enforcement in its public good characteristics. The paper specifically examines the “public good” functions of enforcement as well as the difficulties of generating this “good.” The paper concludes by suggesting three general approaches to overcoming these difficulties and provides a critique of the recently adopted non-compliance mechanism of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Change Convention.


International Law

Date of this Version

March 2006