The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance
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The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions

Harro van Asselt

‘How do the different international institutions addressing climate change interact? What are the actual and potential synergies and conflicts? What are the most effective strategies to manage institutional interplay? Harro van Asselt’s expertise in both international law and international relations, as well as his intimate knowledge of the policy-making process, make him ideally equipped to address these fundamental questions. Based on detailed case studies, he provides a wide-ranging, lucid, and theoretically sophisticated study of climate change governance. Essential reading for international lawyers and international relations scholars alike.’ – Dan Bodansky, Arizona State University, US
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Chapter 3: The concept of fragmentation

Harro van Asselt


Both international lawyers and international relations scholars have been preoccupied with the quest for coherence in international law and global governance. International legal scholars have primarily sought to establish formal hierarchical relations between different international legal instruments, whereas international relations scholars have mainly focused on explaining how, why and with what consequences institutions interact. Drawing on the insights from both disciplines, this chapter sets the scene for an analytical framework for addressing questions raised by institutional diversity in international law and governance. This analytical framework will be outlined in more detail in the subsequent two chapters. The chapter focuses on 'fragmentation' as a concept to describe and analyse the institutional landscape of global governance characterized by multiple overlapping regimes. It highlights the contentious aspects of the term and discusses different types of fragmentation that can be discerned. In addition, it provides a theoretical exploration of the consequences of fragmentation, showing how scholars in international law and international relations have suggested that the fragmentation of international law and governance may be beneficial as well as detrimental. The use of the term 'fragmentation' is based on a conscious choice, as I explain in this section. Yet the very use of this word has been the subject of a vigorous debate, especially among international lawyers. The term came to the forefront in 2000 when it was included in the work programme of the International Law Commission (ILC).

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