Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor Gilbert R. Winham
The thesis presented here analyzes the role of the less developed countries in the environmental issues in the United Nations, evaluates their influence, and analyzes the determinants of this influence. Our study assumes certain goal orientations of spokesmen for the less developed countries. These goal orientations are derived from the underdeveloped conditions of most of these countries and their continuing political and economic dependence. They attempt to reduce this dependence through demand for radical transformations in the international political economy. This is done through negotiations with spokesmen for the developed countries. The attainment of their objectives constitutes an exercise of influence over their counterparts from the developed countries. The outcomes themselves, for our study, are less important than the interactions, styles, and conversion of political resources into influence. Therefore, it is on the dynamics of the North-South set of international relations that this study focuses.
While the environmental negotiations confirm the persistence of a certain stable pattern of demands on the part of the less developed countries, behavioral discontinuities, in terms of methods or style of negotiation, are evident in a review of the negotiations. Spokesman for the less developed countries seemed to prefer negotiated settlements to majority voting, which is a significant departure from their past negotiating style. Bloc politics, therefore, need not always be incompatible with negotiations. Spokesmen for most of the developed countries were also unusually more accommodating in their responses to the demands of the less developed countries. The dispositions and interests of the former, the latter's preference for bargaining over majority voting, as well as the transnational character of most of the environmental issues, partly made possible the unusual negotiating behaviour of both groups of countries. Another significant finding is that the less developed countries (the weak) have some influence on the developed countries (the strong) in negotiations. The determinants of this influence must be sought in factors other than economic, military, scientific-technological, and communication capabilities on the one hand, or majority voting on the other. This corroborates Professor Eartman's suggestion that the role of power must be analyzed in the context of negotiations.
Finally, the study presented here indicates that the concept of environmental quality is broader and more complex than the desire to prevent planetary collapse. There is more to be learned about environmental politics in the UN than can be gathered from popular literature. Scientists and advocates of environmental control tend to treat the world globally and ignore essential political differences. As much as the durability of planet Earth is being challenged by the ecological issues, a scientific solution which is divorced from the political context of the issues is not likely to be a realistic response to the pressures in the contemporary international political system. The success of the UN environmental program substantially depends on the attitudes and policies of the developed countries. Unless they are prepared to assume additional moral, economic, and financial responsibilities for making the simultaneous pursuit of the development and environmental protection goals possible in the less developed parts of the world, a lingering disagreement is more likely to characterize North-South dialogue on the environment.
Nyamekye, Stephen Kwasi, "Environmental Politics in the United Nations: An Analysis of the Role and Influence of the Less Developed Countries" (1975). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 921.