Towards International Chemical Safety : Taking Action on Persistent Organic Pollutants

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been subject to increased international ro-operation over that past decade. The first international effort to address POPs collectively as a distinet class of pollutants was made under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and within the framework of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP), which geographically covers North America, Europe and the region of the former Soviet Union. The first CLRTAP actions on POPs were taken in 1989 with 32 states and the European Community in June 1998 signing the CLRTAP POPs Protocol. As of 15 February 2000, there are 36 signatories and 3 Parties to the Protocol.This dissertation analyses the formation of the CLRTAP POPs regulatory system by the use of qualitative information and non-statistical procedures. The regulatory system is seen as a regime based on the POPs Protocol and a connected CLRTAP Executive Body Decision. The process of regime formation is divided into the three phases: agenda formation, negotiations and operationalisation. The study presents new empirical data relating to the formation process, such as keyactors, core issues and central events, giving special attention to the dynamics and mechanisms of social learning for reaching shared understanding and policy convergence. Then, the examined underlying change mechanism is learning through and during interaction and communication. The "whens", "whys" and "hows" of social learning are elaborated - that is the condition or circumstances in which there are opportunities for sociallearning, why it occurs, through what means it takes place and factors that influence information exchange and information processing - then applied to the case study.The study finds that a social learning approach offers interesting insights into the formation of the CLRTAP POPs regime. Many states engaged in ro-operation with unclear or vague interests and preferences. Uncertainties about the character and extent of the physical problem, viable policy options and domestic situations together with the readiness of the participants to consider and adopt new information created an opportunity for social learning. Interaction and learning served the dual purpose ofsimultaneous assisting in clarifjring individual state interests and preferences and the reaching of shared understanding. The three phases of regime formation display differences in participation patterns, the kind of issues that dominated, the type of information that was communicated and the modes and channels through which it was communicated. Additionally, there were in the different phases variations in factors that influenced information exchange and information processing.

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