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Situationality of Global Risks: The Role of International Organizations in Climate Governance

Conference contribution
Authors Gabriela Arguello
Published in Ninth Annual Cambridge International Law Conference – 2020 Webinar Series
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Law
CECAR - Centre for Collective Action Research
Language en
Keywords Climate change, Arctic ocean, international organizations, situationality, large-scale collective action
Subject categories Environmental law, International law, Law


Global risks such as climate change, requires collective action. Considering that spontaneous collaboration diminishes in large-scale collective action problems; fostering such collaboration demands: a) situationality, i.e., “a process of spatial/local confinement of global trends … in the absence of situationality, global vibes are meaningless for individuals and groups” and b) third party intervention becomes essential to foster collective action. This paper analyzes the third-party international institutional arrangement concerned with Arctic climate change management. Such analysis will provide insights on whether this third-party intervention counteracts stressors found on large scale collective action problems, e.g., anonymity, heterogeneity, uncertainty/risk, and inactivity. Taking into account the facilitators in place, e.g., hard and soft law regulatory capacities of international organizations, the paper evaluates whether a collective action has been fostered and the challenges that this third-party intervention face to sustain collective action. The paper analyzes climate regulatory measures on the Arctic due to its significant role in the regulation of the earth's climate. Despite the global system on climate change, the focus is centered on those institutions having a direct impact on the Arctic to assess whether global scale in which climate change is framed is translated into regional settings. This translation, coupled with the ubiquitous nature of climate change, inevitably requires a discussion regarding legal and spatial scales and their correspondent interactions. Law and space are intimately connected. Categorizing a particular issue such as climate change as a global and common concern is by itself a delimitation which grants the international community the legitimate right to build a global regulatory regime. However, the global scale is by no means the only scale since it has to be translated into regional, national, and local settings. Climate governance in the Arctic is analyzed through the theoretical lens of large-scale action problems and the role of international to face global challenges by providing situationality and concretization of global risks. Mainly, I discuss the potential of international institutions to foster collective action and to embrace the voices of multiple actors across legal and spatial scales.

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