Afshin Akhtarkhavari ( Griffith Law School )
Environmental principles, role, function, international level, change, impact, Global Compact, international law and politics
Unlike rules, international lawyers commonly ignore the potential that environmental principles have to create change in international law and politics. Transnational actors do not easily conform to abstract and open-textured environmental principles because they do not prescribe a specific way of behaving and compliance with them is difficult to enforce. The Global Compact initiative of the United Nations relies on principles to create a regime applying to transnational corporations. It is structured around encouraging corporations to socially learn rather than to comply with norms. In this context environmental principles within the Global Compact have the potential to create significant change in international politics but one that is better assessed in terms of how they frame ideas during the interactions of participants and stakeholders within the regime. This interplay between environmental principles and the social influence of ideas is an important steering mechanism for the kind of learning that potentially is taking place within the Global Compact. It also distinguishes the Global Compact from other attempts to consider the role of internationally developed voluntary codes as a common frame for multinational corporations to self-regulate themselves. Notably, it highlights an important role and function for environmental principles, which are often discounted in their potential to contribute to change at the international level.
(2010) 38 Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 277