Initial Conditions A Northonly Global Response

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The stories of the normative context and U.S. rule models are the empirical target for the NLC framework. This discussion cuts in to the dynamic process of coevolution (between U.S. rule models and the normative context) in 1986.5 By 1986 ozone depletion had been on the international political agenda for five years and the international scientific agenda for ten. In March 1985, twenty-one states originally signed the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Vienna Convention is a framework convention that outlined the international community's understanding that ozone depletion was a problem and erected the infrastructure for dealing with the problem in the years to come. Embedded in the convention is a call to negotiate specific protocols for reducing ozone-depleting chemicals.6 These protocol negotiations took place in four official rounds between 1986 and 1987 (Geneva [12/86], Vienna [2/87], Geneva [4/87], and Montreal [9/87]) and culminated in the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer in September 1987.

The initial normative political context deemed North-only negotiated solutions to be appropriate. Though the institutional context of the negotiations (UNEP) was open to the participation of all states, actual state actions produced and reified the intersubjective understanding that this "global" environmental problem required only Northern states to participate. In the ozone depletion negotiations, a global response was restricted to Northern states.

Given the open UNEP forum, the absence of Southern states and their issues during the negotiations is extremely telling in terms of what states initially understood to be the appropriate way to address ozone depletion. Only four of the original twenty-one signers of the Vienna Convention were Southern states,7 and by 1987 only two developing nations had ratified the convention.8 In 1985-86, it was obvious that ozone depletion was a Northern problem—just as it would be obvious five years later that it and climate change were universal problems.

Similarly to actions taken prior to the signing of the Vienna Convention, UNEP set up a two-track process to move the international community toward an ozone protocol. The first track was scientific and consisted of the Co-ordinating Committee on the Ozone Layer (CCOL) and a number of workshops on the science of ozone depletion.9 These scientific meetings were designed to provide the second, diplomatic track with the best information possible on the science of ozone depletion. At these diplomatic Ad Hoc Committee meetings negotiators hammered out the details of what became the Montreal Protocol.10 In neither track did Southern states participate in large numbers. They were virtually absent from the CCOL process and made up less than one-third of the participants two crucial scientific workshops.11 At the diplomatic meetings, Southern states again made up less than one-third of the participants until the meetings at Montreal.

The lack of concern over the deficiency of Southern participation in the North, and a lack of interest from the South demonstrate the power of this understanding—the absence of the South was not an important matter for either the North or the South. The North-only norm structured understanding of and expectations about ozone depletion and was thus at the foundation of the governance process. Northern states dominated attendance at the international meetings, and the exclusion of Southern states was not malicious or secret or even objected to by the Southern states. They were not kept out of the negotiations; rather, they declined to attend. The North-only norm defined the ozone depletion issue for both Northern and Southern states, as both groups understood that these negotiations were mainly a Northern concern.12 Stephen Seidel observed that "the developing countries didn't want a big role. There was the Toronto group [United States, Canada, and the Nordic countries] and there was the EU, the key negotiations took place between them."13 Paul Horwitz additionally noted that "decisions were being made by countries that were the problem—they believed they could get a hold of the problem. [The] group thought they owned the issue." He also noted that in the beginning there was "less of a stress on global participation," and that it

"didn't make sense to negotiate a global agreement."14 As just one example of Southern disinterest consider:

In the post-Vienna period, Indian policy makers continued to believe that ozone depletion was mainly the concern of the developed countries. They saw little change in the situation—the scientific uncertainties about ozone depletion continued, there was no proof of any threat to India, and India's CFC production remained marginal to world production. India, therefore, did not participate in the preparatory meetings for the Montreal Conference.15

A universal "global" response did not seem to make sense in either the North or the South for ostensibly sensible reasons. The South, in 1986, produced significantly less than 10 percent of the world's ozone-depleting chemicals and was thus not a source of the problem.16 In addition, there was a perception that ozone depletion would not have a significant impact on Southern states—especially when compared with larger, more pressing problems of economic development.17 Yet Southern potential to contribute to the problem (which would soon be referenced in the climate negotiations as the reason universal participation was necessary) was considerable.18 China, Brazil, and India each could have easily become major producers/consumers of CFCs.

Rather than any characteristics of the ozone depletion problem, the lack of Southern participation is related to a lack of global thinking. One commentator noted that at the time of the early negotiations, "[t]ruly 'global' environmental issues were not readily imaginable."19 Allan Miller (a lawyer with the NRDC and an early ozone depletion activist) concurred and claimed that because ozone depletion arose as an issue so early (in the context of environmental consciousness), "there was no context or tradition of thinking globally."20

The absence of Southern states meant little emphasis on development concerns manifested in the early negotiations. The issues that traditionally engage the South—economic development, financial resources, and technology transfer—were not of primary concern. The Vienna Convention only discussed the need to take into account the "circumstances and particular requirements of developing countries" and only vaguely discussed technological cooperation.21

Even academic analyses uncritically accept the Southern absence. Analyses of the pre-Montreal years are almost wholly dedicated to the study of EU/U.S. bargaining. The South is then suddenly a matter of concern at Montreal and beyond. Edward Parson in his discussion of the ozone negotiations does not mention the South or development concerns even once in his section titled "1977-1985: Washington to Vienna."22

Hampson also neglects to discuss Southern states in his analysis of the ozone negotiations pre-Montreal.23 Even in a tome dedicated to the study of the South and environmental politics, the author concedes that in the ozone issue, the South did not emerge as a distinct interest group; in fact most showed no significant interest in the issue until 1987. In the beginning, ozone depletion was primarily the concern of the nations that were the major users and producers of CFCs and other major ozone-depleting chemicals.24

The one exception to this general disinterest in Southern participation was the work of UNEP and its executive director, Mostafa Tolba. UNEP was created at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.25 Since its inception UNEP has been cognizant of and sensitive to development concerns as they pertain to the environment— "Environment and Development" was one of the six original divisions created in 1972.26 In addition, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP was the first global UN agency headquartered in the South.27

Tolba took over as executive director in 1975.28 An Egyptian citizen and biologist by training, Tolba was the vice-president of the Stockholm Conference and has consistently advocated for development concerns and global thinking. Tolba "saw himself as a representative not only of UNEP but also of the interests of developing countries,"29 and from the very beginning he "saw global participation as an absolute must."30 Mostafa Tolba was the norm entrepreneur who suggested and advocated for universal participation. This suggestion was a new idea in an issue-area dominated by the understanding that ozone depletion required Northern participation. However, it was not a radically new idea. It fit well with Tolba's experiences working within a universal, multilateral framework in the early UN environment conferences, especially the 1972 Stockholm conference. Universal participation was not unheard of in the context of ozone depletion before 1987. The idea was at least present in the rhetoric of early working group meetings that prepped the Vienna Convention, though the rhetoric had little practical effect until Montreal in 1987.

As a norm entrepreneur, Tolba had the advantage of working from a formidable organizational platform. He directed UNEP, the main agency responsible for coordinating the ozone negotiations. It spearheaded the conference that adopted the World Plan of Action on the Ozone Layer and established the Ad Hoc working group that began work on the Vienna Convention.31 Throughout the early ozone years and leading up to the Montreal negotiations, UNEP and Tolba were committed to inclusivity—"UNEP quickly recognized that broad cooperation was necessary to protect stratospheric ozone."32

Though UNEP, as a UN agency with broad membership, was a universal forum and Tolba was an advocate for Southern concerns, the early protocol negotiations remained a predominantly Northern affair. Most Southern states were either disinterested in or mistrustful of the ozone negotiations, as they saw ozone depletion as a Northern problem.33 Northern states concentrated on negotiating among themselves.

Tolba and UNEP stressed the need for universal participation—in modeling terms, they continually suggested that a universal participation rule should be added to states' rule models—providing a steady stream of input to the system. However, most states either did not take this suggestion at this point or if they did take the suggestion, it remained a potential rule. The North-only norm was firmly embedded in United States and other states' rule models and it had not been weakened by negative evaluation. Thus, though Tolba's platform was significant his practical reach was initially limited—most states did not alter their operating rule right away.

The unquestioned acceptance of the South's absence by most of the major players in the negotiations reified the intersubjective, normative understanding that ozone depletion required North-only participation. Curiously, Northern states tolerated the Southern absence, even in the face of an enormous Southern potential to produce CFCs, chemicals that are easy to manufacture and necessary for the production of highly coveted consumer goods (refrigerators, air conditioners, industrial solvents). Similarly, Southern states appeared unconcerned about participating in the efforts to regulate these crucial chemicals. Ozone depletion was understood by all to be a Northern problem.

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