Norms in International Cooperation: An Overview of Paris Agreement

International cooperation is pivotal in addressing global challenges such as climate change, economic stability, and security threats.

International cooperation is pivotal in addressing global challenges such as climate change, economic stability, and security threats. Norms, defined as shared expectations about appropriate behavior among states, play a crucial role in facilitating this cooperation. The Paris Agreement, a landmark accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), serves as an exemplary case study to understand how norms influence international cooperation. Norms in international relations provide a framework for behavior that fosters predictability and trust among states. These norms emerge from collective values, principles, and practices that states agree upon over time. They help to manage international issues by establishing standards of conduct, which can reduce uncertainties and enhance collaboration. The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, represents a significant milestone in global climate governance. It aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement marks a shift from the Kyoto Protocol by involving both developed and developing nations, emphasizing voluntary, nationally determined contributions (NDCs) rather than binding emission reduction targets.

Norms Representing the Paris Agreement

Environmental responsibility is one of the most critical norms underpinning the Paris Agreement is the shared sense of environmental responsibility. This norm reflects the global recognition of climate change as a pressing issue that requires collective action. The Paris Agreement builds on this norm by encouraging states to take ownership of their contributions to climate change and commit to mitigating its effects. The principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) added as a foundational norm in climate negotiations, recognizes the different capabilities and responsibilities of developed and developing countries. The Paris Agreement embodies this norm by allowing states to set their own NDCs based on national circumstances, while still committing to collective global goals. This flexibility fosters broader participation and cooperation. Moreover, transparency and accountability impose a crucial norms that enhance trust and cooperation among states. The Paris Agreement incorporates these norms through its transparency framework, which requires countries to regularly report on their emissions and progress towards their NDCs. This mechanism encourages countries to adhere to their commitments and enables peer review, fostering a culture of mutual accountability.

How Norms Sustaining a Cooperation

The establishment of norms not only makes it easier to reach accords such as the Paris Agreement, but they also ensure that collaboration continues over time. Even in the absence of formal enforcement measures, they generate a sense of responsibility and expectation that has an effect on the conduct of the state. It might be implemented by states through the process of norm internalization. The process of states internalizing norms and incorporating them into their domestic policies and practices takes place over time. For instance, the expectation of environmental responsibility has prompted a great number of nations to implement climate policies that are considered to be ambitious and to invest in renewable energy. In light of the fact that governments continue to prioritize climate action beyond the initial agreement, this internalization helps to sustain long-term collaboration more effectively.

Consequently, norms produce a social context in which states experience pressure to adhere to expectations that are in common with other states. In the framework of the Paris Agreement, nations may choose to increase their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in order to protect their reputations and to bring their actions in line with those of their peers. Through this process of socialization, collective efforts are strengthened, and governments that are falling behind are encouraged to improve their pledges. In contrast, norms are a sort of soft power that have the ability to shape the discourse and the way international issues are framed. Not only has the Paris Agreement influenced the conduct of states, but it has also influenced the behavior of non-state entities such as corporations, civil society, and municipal governments. This decision has helped to entrench climate change as a vital global concern worldwide. Because of its widespread normative effect, the agreement has a greater impact and is responsible for a larger range of societal changes.

The Challenges and Limitations

While norms play a vital role in international cooperation, they are not without challenges. The effectiveness of norms depends on the willingness of states to uphold them and the capacity of international institutions to support their implementation. The Paris Agreement relies heavily on voluntary compliance and lacks strong enforcement mechanisms. While norms can encourage adherence, the absence of binding obligations may lead some states to fall short of their commitments. Ensuring robust monitoring and enhancing the capacity of countries to meet their NDCs are critical to overcoming this limitation. Moreover, norms are not static and can be contested by states with differing interests and priorities. The principle of CBDR, for instance, has been a point of contention, with some developed countries pushing for greater commitments from emerging economies. Navigating these contestations requires continuous negotiation and adaptation to maintain the integrity of the agreement. Lastly, the effectiveness of norms in promoting cooperation can be hindered by global inequities. Developing countries often face greater challenges in implementing climate policies due to limited resources and capacities. Addressing these inequities through financial support, technology transfer, and capacity-building is essential to ensure that all countries can participate effectively in global climate action.

Lessons of the Discussion

The Paris Agreement is a prime example of the significant part that norms play in the process of international cooperation. Norms of environmental responsibility, shared but differentiated obligations, and openness have been incorporated into the agreement, which has resulted in the development of a cooperative framework that involves a wide range of states. It is certain that norms play a significant part in defining the conduct of states and maintaining collective activity, despite the fact that problems still exist. As the international community continues to confront the issue of climate change, it will be more important than ever to strengthen these standards and overcome the limits they provide in order to achieve success over the long term. As a demonstration of the ability of rules to bring nations together in the pursuit of a common good, the Paris Agreement stands as a great example.

Farhan R. Jhuswanto
Farhan R. Jhuswanto
Farhan Riswandha Jhuswanto is a master's student at Gadjah Mada University. His research interests revolve around the international political economy, diplomacy, and other economic features such as trends, exports-imports, and investments.