This section contains publications derived and/or related to the database.
International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics (2023):
"Country differentiation in the global environmental context: Who is ‘developing’ and according to what?"
- by Deborah Barros Leal Farias
Abstract. Several multilateral treaties and International Governmental Organizations have introduced different legal obligations for countries based on the developing/developed (or equivalent) dichotomy. Such differentiation can (re)produce a range of material and symbolic consequences for those labelled developing or developed. Much has been researched about this topic in the environmental regime yet an important gap remains: what does this differentiation look like empirically? This article answers this question through a qualitative analysis that compares about two dozen multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) on (1) how they specify what makes a country be developing (or not) and (2) the result of this choice, that is, exactly which countries are labelled developing under each MEA. The research reveals at least four important points: (1) the absence of any converging approach to classifying countries in the global environmental context; (2) almost 1 out of 4 countries in the world have mixed classification (developing or developed depending on the MEA); (3) ‘switching’ groups is relatively infrequent, but can be both moving to or away from the developing label; and (4) most countries with mixed classifications appear to be comfortable in the situation. This research contributes to a finer-grained understanding of differentiation in global environmental governance.
Global Environmental Politics (2022): "Differentiation in Environmental Treatymaking: Measuring Provisions and How They Reshape the Depth-Participation Dilemma"
- by Deborah Barros Leal Farias and Charles Roger
Abstract. We advance the literature on institutional design by measuring, describing, and demonstrating the importance of differential treatment for developing countries in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Quantitative work on MEAs has made enormous strides, as researchers have explored numerous dimensions of institutional variation. So far, though, differentiation has been neglected due to data constraints and the complex nature of relevant provisions. We offer one way of relieving this constraint, exploiting the fact that MEAs with differentiation typically identify distinct sets of “developing country” parties. This allows us to collect data on these provisions more systematically and efficiently than has been possible thus far. After describing the data collection process, we present descriptive statistics, showing that these provisions are surprisingly infrequent, appearing in only 6% of MEAs. Further, while older than some think, they disproportionately appear in larger, more recent agreements. Following this, we illustrate the value of our data and the importance of these provisions by revisiting the debate on the “depth versus participation” trade-off. We demonstrate, specifically, that differentiation powerfully conditions this relationship. When MEAs do not differentiate between states, greater depth reduces participation; when they do, the relationship is reversed, making it possible to sustain high levels of both. This finding helps to reconcile conflicting findings in earlier studies and has important policy implications.
Third World Quarterly (2019)
"Outlook for the ‘developing country’ category: a paradox of demise and continuity"
- by Deborah Barros Leal Farias
Abstract. In the 2016 edition of its World Development Indicators (WDI), the World Bank introduced an important change in the way it categorises countries: it explicitly stated the intention to eliminate the distinction of countries as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’. This decision represents the first time one of the world’s most powerful and influential international organisation has overtly decided to move away from this fuzzy-yet-ubiquitous terminology for categorising countries (and not proposing to replace the division). This paper takes this shift to discuss country groupings based on development levels, particularly the ‘developed’/’developing’ dichotomy, focusing on the latter term. The paper argues for a paradoxical scenario, wherein the label ‘developing’ will increasingly become analytically useless while concurrently retaining – or even strengthening – its power in the context of foreign policy strategies. The analysis details the motives behind this paradox and provides a reasoning for when and why the term’s usage is likely to be weakened or strengthened. Simply put, the ‘developed’/’developing’ dichotomy is weakening in its analytical capacity, mostly due to the increasing heterogeneity among countries under the ‘developing’ label and concurrent porosity of ‘boundaries’ between the two categories, while showing little sign of being phased as a term for self-identification.