Realism Approach Essay

1720 words - 7 pages

The U.N.’s efforts in creating effective treaties dealing with environmental issues have not been successful because member states fail to cooperate. The U.N. is comprised of 193 states that work together in fixing different issues affecting them. The issues they handle range from world peace to environmental problems. Environmental issues have become more of a concern in the past 50 years (United Nations). There have been treaties created aimed to try to fix and/or maintain the environment, such as the Kyoto Protocol. The research topic will be explaining the reasons behind the U.N.’s deficiency in effectiveness of treaties focused on helping the environment. Applying the realist theory will explain why the U.N. is unable to create successful treaties because member states do not fully cooperate with the treaty’s guidelines. States exist in an anarchic international system and behave according to their self-interests because there is no global authority (Stanford University).

This case will focus on explaining the lack of success of U.N. environmental efforts on passing treaties due to the fact that member states fail to comply with the guidelines. Enforcement of the treaties is something that the U.N. struggles with because of its lack of power. Each member state does not have to abide by the guidelines because there will be no enforcement of them through punishment, such as sanctions. The need of enforcement when trying to have self-interested states abide by regulations is vital. In addition, the U.N. does not have the power to punish the member states because there is no Hegemonic Power. A Hegemonic Power in the U.N. would be able to assist in enforcing the regulations by having the power to punish uncooperative member states. Furthermore, the Realist theory supports this view because it makes clear that states act in their own self-interest because of the anarchic international system since there is no global authority to have some control over the states. The Realist theory will also demonstrate that states will act as rational actors that are trying to assure their own survival. The Kyoto Protocol is useful to this research as well because it exemplifies the inability of the U.N. to get the member states to follow the weak commitments of the treaty. This was the direct effect of the U.N.’s lack of authority over the member states and its low expectations. There are certain factors that the U.N. needs in order to hold these member states to a standard that will facilitate the success of an environmental treaty.

The realist theory depicts states as rational actors that operate to guarantee their own survival and well-being. States are competitive with each other and look to pursue treaties that will advance their power or image (Grieco, 1988, 602). This theory has specific factors that explain member states and their behavior on environmental treaties. First, that the international system is anarchic because there is no authority over...

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