Friday, February 18, 2005

Does the Bush Administration Read Anne Marie Slaughter?

As I explained here, Dean Anne Marie Slaughter of Princeton is widely known for her study of transnational networks of governmental agencies and institutions that complement and may even substitute for traditional, formal forms of international cooperation in the form of treaties and international organizations. Whether they know it or not, the Bush Administration often follows this approach in a variety of areas, in addition to the Methane to Markets plan I discussed earlier this week. A brief survey of U.S. government press releases from yesterday reveals:
  • The FAA Director speaking at an international conference about improving the existing system of international airline safety regulation, all conducted on an agency-to-agency level with few formal international agreements.
  • The U.S. State Department inviting nations and NGOs to study ways to eliminate landmines.
  • The U.S. Commerce Secretary pledging U.S. cooperation in an international conference designed to set up a global observation system (to improve, among other things, observation of hurricanes, earthquakes, and of course, tsunamis).
  • The U.S. Energy Secretary's Global Threat Reduction Initiative , that works with various countries to secure nuclear waste.
  • The Proliferation Security Initiative, a partnership with 60 plus countries that allows U.S. navy ships to interdict shipments of nuclear materials on the high seas.
All of these initiatives may be window dressing, and all of these "partnerships" might be more effective as multilateral treaties involving the creation of an international institution or working with existing institutions. Or maybe not. These initiatives should also remind international lawyers that effective international cooperation can take many forms and that the "legal" one is not always the best.

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