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Managers of Global ChangeThe Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies$

Frank Biermann and Bernd Siebenhüner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012744

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012744.001.0001

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The Ozone Secretariat: The Good Shepherd of Ozone Politics

The Ozone Secretariat: The Good Shepherd of Ozone Politics

Chapter:
(p.224) (p.225) 9 The Ozone Secretariat: The Good Shepherd of Ozone Politics
Source:
Managers of Global Change
Author(s):

Steffen Bauer

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012744.003.0009

Abstract and Keywords

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are both administered by the ozone secretariat within the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the secretariat is a bureaucracy that has served the parties to the Montreal Protocol for more than twenty years now. This chapter explores the influence of the work of the ozone secretariat on international ozone politics. After providing an overview of the ozone secretariat’s organizational structure and activities, the chapter analyzes its cognitive, normative, and executive influences. It also discusses the secretariat’s resources, competences, and embeddedness, along with its organizational expertise, organizational culture, and organizational leadership.

Keywords:   ozone politics, influence, Vienna Convention, Montreal Protocol, ozone secretariat, UNEP, bureaucracy, organizational expertise, organizational culture, organizational leadership

Introduction

The international regime for the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer is considered one of the major successes in international environmental politics. The literature on its emergence, evolution, and effectiveness is abundant and has been a major catalyst for the study of international environmental regimes.1 Yet few scholars have systematically looked at the role of the international secretariat that administers the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer: the ozone secretariat within the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi. Although other explanatory factors may be more significant in explaining the regime’s overall success, it is intriguing that hardly anyone has looked at the role of the bureaucracy that has served the parties to the Montreal Protocol for over two decades now. Even Edward Parson’s Protecting the Ozone Layer (2003), which is arguably the most thorough analysis of the ozone regime available, draws hardly on insights from the ozone secretariat.2

The general relevance of the ozone secretariat has been addressed in a section of Jørgen Wettestad’s study on the effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol (2001). Penelope Canan and Nancy Reichman (2002) approached the ozone regime from a sociological perspective and identified the treaty secretariat as one component in a complex network of “ozone connections.” The ozone secretariat has also been included as one of five cases in Rosemary Sandford’s comparative study of environmental treaty secretariats (1994; see also Sandford 1992, 1996). I used examples from the ozone secretariat and the secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification to analyze the “bureaucratic (p.226) authority” of intergovernmental secretariats (Bauer 2006). Finally, officers of the ozone secretariat have provided an inside account that stresses the conducive role of their bureaucracy (Andersen and Sarma 2002).

Based on this literature, one can plausibly assume that the secretariat, despite its small size, has contributed to the overall performance of the regime, “perhaps more so than envisioned in the regime-creation phase” (Wettestad 2001, 162). In the following study, I further substantiate this argument and trace where, how, and to what extent the work of the ozone secretariat has influenced the outcomes of the overall regime.

A number of factors make the ozone secretariat a unique case study in this volume. First, the ozone secretariat is by far the smallest bureaucracy in the sample. Hence one would hardly expect the secretariat to have a sizable impact on international ozone politics. Given the technical specificity of the ozone problem and the advanced institutional arrangements that result from it, one could expect the ozone secretariat to make a difference, especially in dealing with expert knowledge in a manner that may affect the international ozone discourse and international cooperation. Conversely, the small bureaucracy can hardly be expected to directly alter the behavior of governments or to provide them with additional capacities.

The small size of the secretariat also presents a methodological challenge. Given that the secretariat employs merely six to eight program officers, including the executive secretary and its deputy, the explanatory power of some analytical categories in this book’s case study design are here reduced to anecdotal information. There is little use, for instance, in analyzing the organizational structure of such a small secretariat. This point needs to be considered when the secretariat is credited for flat hierarchies and swift internal decision making. Likewise, a relevant share of the empirical material available for this case study represents microperspectives from within the secretariat. The information is relevant, yet cannot be expected to match the empirical clout of other case studies presented in this book that could extract and synthesize data from dozens of interviews.

A second feature unique to this case study is the formal status of the secretariat; namely, its close organizational link to UNEP. That the ozone secretariat could be seen as an extension of UNEP rather than as a bureaucracy in its own right might lower its standing vis-à-vis governments. However, it could also be assumed that the authority of its international civil servants is enhanced precisely because they are part of a (p.227) larger UN agency with some clout in international environmental governance. For instance, vis-à-vis the United Nations secretary-general and the United Nations General Assembly, the ozone secretariat is formally represented by the UNEP executive director.

The ozone secretariat is responsible for the administration of both the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the more specific Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. To keep the analysis focused, the statements made in this chapter refer to the administration of the Montreal Protocol unless the Vienna Convention is mentioned, too.

Structure and Activities

The international regime for the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer builds on a multilateral environmental agreement typical for international environmental politics of the 1980s (see Sandford 1994). Both the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol provide for a secretariat to administer the regime’s implementation, namely “to organize future meetings, prepare and transmit reports, and perform functions assigned to it by any future protocols” (Downie 1995, 179). The bureaucracy that results from these provisions is one component of the overall ozone regime that has developed since the mid 1970s. The regime comprises, among other components, the legal framework of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, plus its London, Copenhagen, Beijing, and Vienna amendments; an Open-Ended Working Group of the Parties; a variety of expert panels, such as the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel; and the Multilateral Fund.

The Vienna Convention stipulated that the secretariat shall be hosted by UNEP as a distinct entity answerable to the convention’s conference of the parties. However, the ozone secretariat is often perceived as a subordinate unit of UNEP, and the formal legal relationship between the two is hard to grasp. In practice, the ozone secretariat formally reports to the UN General Assembly through the UNEP executive director, and official communication with parties or publications of the ozone secretariat formally come under the UNEP label. Secretariats of other multilateral environmental agreements, such as the one serving the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), operate under similar formal arrangements, but are more easily recognized as entities of their own, if only for the (p.228) marked difference that they are hosted outside the UNEP headquarters. Moreover, the biodiversity secretariat has its own logo, whereas the ozone secretariat uses the overall UNEP emblem. The ozone secretariat also relies on the UNEP secretariat and the UN Offices at Nairobi for conference services and administrative assistance. UNEP officials are eager to emphasize that UNEP is indeed catering for the ozone secretariat and that its own Coordinating Committee on the Ozone Layer, established in 1977 in accordance with the World Plan of Action on the Ozone Layer, constituted the secretariat’s institutional predecessor.3

The setup of the ozone secretariat is simple. Each program officer represents what would be one functional unit or division in bigger international bureaucracies; the executive secretary and its deputy constitute the secretariat management. They supervise one senior legal officer, one senior scientific affairs officer, one administrative officer, and one information and communications officer. In 2004, two more program officers were seconded to strengthen the secretariat: one covering monitoring and compliance, the other serving as a database manager. The parties’ decision to approve these additional posts has been welcomed by the secretariat management. It is perceived as an overdue step that acknowledges the ever increasing workload resulting from the different reporting schemes for the consecutive amendments to the Montreal Protocol.4 In sum, with its general support staff, the ozone secretariat now employs eighteen people, who are all formally employees of the United Nations Environment Programme. At the helm of the secretariat, Marco Gonzalez succeeded Madhava Sarma in 2002 as its third executive secretary.5

The annual budget of the secretariat amounts to roughly USD 1 million with respect to administering the Vienna Convention and an additional annual average of about USD 3–5 million to cover its activities related to the Montreal Protocol. With these resources, the ozone secretariat administers formal conferences and meetings of the parties and its subsidiary bodies, the Open-Ended Working Group, as well as informal consultative meetings and public outreach measures. The major share of the secretariat’s budget is spent on conference services, which include the organization and financing of the travels of developing country delegates. Hence, only 10–15 percent of the budget remains for nonconference activities.6

The funds of the ozone secretariat are independent from the multimillion dollar Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol in Montreal. As of 2002, the ozone fund had disbursed roughly (p.229) USD 1.5 billion to over 100 developing countries. In 2002, governments agreed to replenish the fund with USD 573 million for 2003–2005 (IISD 2003, 4; see Biermann 1997 for details on the setup of the fund).

Other than conference management, the secretariat provides technical advice for the parties and drafts decisions, as well as treaties and amendments on their behalf. Moreover, it convenes review panels and coordinates the reporting and compliance issues to which the parties have committed themselves.

The Influence of the Ozone Secretariat

Cognitive Influence

The framing of “ozone discourses” (Litfin 1994) that was pivotal in bringing about the contractual environment of the ozone regime was dominated by situational factors—notably, the discovery of a substantial thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer (“ozone hole”)—and the epistemic community involved in this discourse (Haas 1992; also Parson 2003, 84). Scientists and civil servants of UNEP, the World Meteorological Organization, the British Antarctic Survey, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration were part of this discourse many years before the establishment of the ozone secretariat. Yet the ozone secretariat continues to play an important role in keeping ozone depletion on the agenda. This is politically important, because to some extent, the Montreal Protocol’s success is its current weakness. Media attention to the problem has dropped dramatically since the late 1980s and early 1990s, and environmental organizations—most of which typically depend on media attention—have turned to more visible issues such as climate change. As the regulation of ozone depleting substances advances to ever more complex levels, it is an important role of the ozone secretariat to maintain attention of political decision makers and awareness for the vulnerability of the stratospheric protective shield among a wider public.7 Thus, the secretariat’s role in shaping the discourse by brokering complex knowledge to all kinds of stakeholders is hardly less important today than it was in the regime creation phase, when the Vienna Convention would have been stillborn were it not for the intervention of UNEP’s Ozone Unit (Benedick 1998).

Indeed, the secretariat remains active in state-of-the-art knowledge dissemination and information brokering. Its output ranges from the provision of ready-to-go information kits to children’s comics and (p.230) teaching kits. International Ozone Day, which is annually organized by the secretariat since 1988, has become one of the more noteworthy ones among the many “world days” under the banner of the United Nations.8 Moreover, the ozone secretariat seeks the limelight by presenting the Outstanding National Ozone Units Award, for which parties compete by presenting their efforts in implementing the Montreal Protocol and protecting the ozone layer. Beyond keeping governments’ general attention, many informal meetings that convene to facilitate decision making are based on the specific knowledge that is provided for by the secretariat’s officers.9

Normative Influence

In addition, the ozone secretariat has furthered international cooperation under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. For one, the secretariat advises and supports national ozone officers to raise awareness within their countries and to advance the implementation of international commitments on the ground.10 As the status of implementation reflects positively upon the advancement of the overall regime, this facilitates international cooperation quite significantly. As a notable example, it promotes ratification of progressive amendments to the Montreal Protocol inasmuch as it helps parties to live up to their commitments.11

It is an institutional peculiarity of the ozone regime that there are different numbers of parties to the protocol and each of its amendments. Although there is almost universal membership to the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol, membership is lessening with each succeeding amendment. Out of 191 parties to the Montreal Protocol, 186 have ratified the 1990 London Amendment, 179 the 1993 Copenhagen Amendment, 159 the 1998 Montreal Amendment, and 135 the 2000 Beijing Amendment.12 This renders the administration of reporting requirements and the provisions for meetings of the parties more complex and labor-intensive compared with other environmental treaties. Technically, each amendment of the Montreal Protocol has largely to be dealt with like a convention in its own right.13 The secretariat has thus a stake in convincing parties to ratify all amendments, and it can even refer to its formal mandate to invite non-parties to meetings and to provide them with appropriate information (UNEP 2003, 344).

Another issue is the negotiation of Critical Use Nominations and Critical Use Exemptions, which regulate the domestic production and (p.231) consumption of ozone-depleting substances that are subject to being phased out. Decisions on critical uses are typically based on recommendations by the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel, a subsidiary body of the conference of the parties, and its subsidiary committees, such as the Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee. Offering its own technical and procedural expertise, the ozone secretariat could facilitate progress in deliberations within the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel on a number of occasions.14

Notably, the secretariat’s scientific and legal staff assists parties in identifying industrial branches or ozone-depleting substances that may be critical but have not been regulated yet. These may then be tabled for consideration by the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel. However, this is even more vigorously pursued by nongovernmental organizations such as Greenpeace International or the Environmental Intelligence Agency.15 Once the parties have decided on critical use exemptions, the ozone secretariat is again involved through the administration of the respective reporting requirements. Yet it is the parties that report to the secretariat, which ultimately leaves control of information at the hands of national governments. For instance, the U.S. administration has repeatedly caused outrage among party delegations by withholding data of its methyl bromide–producing companies (IISD 2004).16

Executive Influence

The successful development of technical and financial capacities in developing countries, based on an unprecedented willingness of major developed country parties to mobilize resources at a scale of billions of dollars, is a major reason for the achievements of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol. However, the administration of these substantive resources is the domain of the Multilateral Fund and, to some extent, of the Global Environment Facility, both of which are institutionally detached from the ozone secretariat.

The implementation of capacity-building activities under the Montreal Protocol are basically the domain of four implementing agencies: the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the UN Development Programme and, to a lesser extent, UNEP’s Ozone Action Programme, which is located at its Paris-based Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics. It is these international bureaucracies that brought about the installation of so-called Ozone Units in the (p.232) capitals in the developing world. These are small administrative units, usually linked to the national environment ministry, with staff trained and financed by the implementing agencies to draft and implement national programs on the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances (see Biermann 1997 for details). The Ozone Units have thus acquired a quasidiplomatic status regarding the communication flows between the ozone secretariat and the parties. Officers in Nairobi emphasized that the overall achievements of the Montreal Protocol would not be conceivable without the provision of these effective interlinkages between national levels and the international regime through the Ozone Units and the ozone secretariat.17

As for the contribution by the ozone secretariat itself, it has no mandate to build technical or financial capacities. Its capacity to build institutional capacities is also limited, due in no small part to lack of staff.

However, the executive secretary notes that the secretariat does occasionally provide workshops as well as support to networks that are crucial in disseminating knowledge and building capacity.18 In this respect, one senior officer provided concrete examples of contributing in person to regional network workshops in developing countries. Such meetings convene regularly in developing country regions to prepare the technical experts from national Ozone Units for upcoming conferences such as the annual meeting of the parties or the Open-Ended Working Group. These officers provide background information for national delegates and thus function as intermediaries between the international processes and policy makers at the domestic level. Participation in such regional network conferences offers an opportunity for the secretariat to clarify to the domestic ozone officers the wider political implications of their technical briefs.19 Ultimately, such workshops enable the secretariat to narrow the gaps at the domestic levels between the rather apolitical experts that care for the subject matter of ozone policy implementation, and political negotiators who represent national interests in the intergovernmental forums of ozone politics. Other than many national representatives, the secretariat’s officers are in the position to flag crucial issues and to extract the pertinent pieces out of the massive information that is brought to it by the parties. This however, needs to be done in a cautious, strictly noninstructive manner. Again, the secretariat always remains neutral and does not take sides, but “plays the role that governments want us to play.”20 The approach seems to be to clarify important issues without being perceived as giving advice, (p.233) because governments do not like to be advised by the secretariat, at least not in public forums.

In sum, participation in regional workshops and practical assistance from the ozone secretariat for governments plays a role, but hardly qualifies this small secretariat as a significant capacity builder compared to other bureaucracies analyzed in this volume.

Explaining the Influence

Problem Structure

The potential of the ozone secretariat to influence regime outcomes is constrained or enabled by external factors, notably the complexity of the problem at stake and political or other contextual contingencies in which all of the regime’s stakeholders are embedded. In the literature scrutinizing the success of the ozone regime, the characteristics of stratospheric ozone layer depletion have been given particular explanatory power. In opposition to many other environmental problems, and despite evident variation in terms of vulnerability around the world, ozone depletion is a genuine global commons problem that directly affects the functioning of the atmosphere and thereby indirectly all flora and fauna on the planet. In short, a depleted ozone layer leaves everyone worse off. As no country or region could gain from an increase in harmful ultraviolet radiation, concepts of “winners” and “losers” are irrelevant (Wettestad 2001, 156).

This insight, however, does not equal consensus and swift cooperation in international politics. Leaving initial uncertainty with regard to the scope and complexity of the environmental threat aside, two major factors were responsible for the contentiousness of the issue in international politics: the economic importance of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting substances for powerful chemical industries and national economies in Europe and North America, and imbalances along the North–South divide.21 Though the former has been largely ameliorated during the process of regime formation as it boiled down to manageable questions of economic competitiveness, the latter remains to be contested and infringes upon the overall success of the regime to protect the ozone layer. Indeed, the North–South conflict appears as the main obstacle to ensuring “smooth sailing with regard to complete problem solving” (Wettestad 2001, 167) of an otherwise exceptionally effective regime. This problem is further intensified by the fact that the countries in transition of Middle and Eastern Europe bear a closer resemblance to (p.234) developing countries than to industrialized countries, as far as their capacities to comply with the Montreal Protocol are concerned.22

Effective international regulation was further helped by high concern among many governments in the industrialized world. Adverse health effects, such as increased risk of skin cancer and eye cataracts due to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation, received much public attention in the developed world and required politicians to respond to the fears of their electorate. Many analysts have emphasized the importance of the discovery of the ozone hole, which served as a “smoking gun” for advocates of a ban on chlorofluorocarbons vis-à-vis skeptical decision makers, notably among the conservative governments of Germany and the United Kingdom (Litfin 1994; Benedick 1998).

Although this overall problem structure remains largely stable, political stakes and perceptions of saliency have varied over time. These shifts within the larger problem structure are typically the result of new information and subsequent additions to the list of ozone depleting substances (see also Parson 2003). And though the salience of ozone layer protection seemed to be waning at the turn of the century, new controversies about specific ozone depleting substances and established substitutes that have now emerged as potent greenhouse gases point in the opposite direction. Adding yet more layers of complexity to ozone politics, they will strengthen rather than weaken the position of the secretariat.

Polity

Competences

The overall autonomy of the ozone secretariat is rather small. This bureaucracy is at the service of two governing bodies—the conferences to the Vienna Convention and the meetings of the parties to the Montreal Protocol—and is subordinate to UNEP, which in itself has limited formal autonomy as a mere program. Likewise, the senior management of the secretariat has hardly any leverage in terms of financial resources or legal mandate.

Resources

The resources of the secretariat are modest. Its staff is stretched thin, and a few program officers struggle to handle all requirements coming out of party meetings and related to the different amendments of the protocol. Few resources are available for strategic expenditures, as preparation and servicing of the party and committee meetings account alone for about 90 percent of the annual budget (see previous).

(p.235) Embeddedness

Despite limited resources, there is some room for influence that stems from the secretariat’s thick embeddedness within the regime. Despite the unwillingness of governments to expand the competencies of the secretariat, its executives took great care to establish the ozone secretariat as an efficient hub of the overall ozone regime. As such, the secretariat is credited for smooth cooperation with parties around the globe. To this end, it aptly employs its interlinkages with the altogether 110 national Ozone Units that have been created following ratification of the Montreal Protocol. The resulting network provides for efficient communication flows between national authorities that are responsible for the on-the-ground implementation of the Montreal Protocol and the regime’s switchboard that is the ozone secretariat, which ultimately feeds back into the intergovernmental processes. This is appreciated in particular by civil servants in developing country parties, who depend on the institutional and technical assistance provided by the ozone secretariat for lack of own administrative capacities, notably when it comes to the processing of national reports.

People and Procedures

To actually exploit the limited room for influence that opens itself to the ozone secretariat, people and procedures are the key explanations. This relates to the expertise vested in the bureaucracy, and its leadership, which has been exemplary on many accounts. Both organizational expertise and organizational leadership could flourish, partially because of the organizational culture of the ozone secretariat.

Organizational Culture

The organizational culture of the secretariat is best described as a technocratic organizational culture that builds on strong in-house expertise of both scientific and political aspects of the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer. It is further characterized by the small size of the ozone secretariat, which grants close working relationships between officers and a flat hierarchy. Although there is a formal bureaucratic structure, several officers stated that top-down hierarchy would hardly be felt in their everyday work and thereby positively distinguish their workplace from other UN agencies. Hence, a good “team spirit” generally prevails in the secretariat. Occasional internal difficulties are mostly handled informally and constructively, and information flows easily. This was also felt to ensure efficiency in the performance of the secretariat.

(p.236) There is also a remarkable level of identification with the objectives of the Montreal Protocol among professional staff and, in particular, a strong sense of pride regarding the secretariat’s good reputation among governments.

Organizational Expertise

If it comes to technical, legal, and even political knowledge relating to any of the ozone treaties, the expertise available within the ozone secretariat is probably second to none. National bureaucrats responsible for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol often find themselves overwhelmed with the ever more complex requirements of the protocol and its amendments.23 Many thus rely on advice from the secretariat and appreciate the practical help provided by the “ozone officers” in Nairobi. This service function of the secretariat is particularly important for administrators in developing countries, whose domestic capacities to meet reporting requirements and other treaty obligations are severely limited. As the ultimate institutional memory of the regime and the main provider of general information and technical advice, the ozone secretariat can thus directly influence how compliance issues are handled at the domestic level. Secretariat officers themselves emphasize that they are mere service providers whose advice would exclusively serve the letters of the treaty as agreed by the parties. Yet their advice is essential to the actions of those who depend on it. Indeed, it epitomizes rational-legal authority in Max Weber’s understanding of bureaucratic rule.

In addition, the secretariat has some influence through drafting reports and decisions on behalf of the meeting of the parties. The executive secretary emphasizes that the drafts provided by the secretariat have no relevance for governments unless they adopt them, and he downplays the role of the secretariat.24

However, several program officers indicate that by acting as the institutional memory of the ozone regime and by acquiring levels of technical knowledge superior to those of most party delegates, the significance of documents drafted by the secretariat are high.25 Quite explicitly, it has been argued that in acknowledgment of the profound expertise embodied by the ozone secretariat, the drafts provided through it are widely perceived as authoritative. Accordingly, the wording of draft decisions or other documents that are put before the parties are a significant source of influence. Secretariat officers can anticipate which elements of a draft decision or report will be controversial, and can thus phrase them so (p.237) that they are acceptable for governments or even slip the attention of delegates. Conversely, the secretariat can ensure that certain issues will receive the attention of delegates, and thus initiate discussion even if some governments would have the issue rather ignored. For instance, a provision may be included in a draft decision that requires the secretariat to monitor progress on the implementation of an obligation. If the report goes without amendments, the secretariat will eventually be mandated to make inquiries at pursuant party meetings. If, however, some governments wish to exclude the monitoring provision, they must make an explicit effort to this end, which also raises attention to the issue.26

Moreover, it should prove particularly insightful to investigate the specific contributions of the ozone secretariat in the expert panels and committees that serve as the consultative basis of most substantive negotiations in the ozone regime. As Karen Litfin (1994) has shown in her analysis of “ozone discourses,” the interface of scientific expertise and intergovernmental cooperation has been crucial in shaping the ozone regime. The role of the ozone secretariat in providing for the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel would promise to be of particular interest in that respect.27

Organizational Leadership

Finally, a central means for the ozone secretariat to influence ozone politics are its senior bureaucrats and their diplomatic activities. Throughout the history of the ozone regime, its executives have actively interfered with intergovernmental negotiations either to facilitate consensus among parties or to seek ways for them to comply with the commitments made under the Montreal Protocol. Naturally, the executive secretary of the ozone secretariat is at the forefront of such activities, but they may also involve the UNEP executive director or, on occasion, professional officers of the secretariat (for instance, if several breakout groups consult in parallel at a meeting of the parties).

Although the ozone secretariat may not pressure parties, its staff can emphasize the adverse effects that noncomplying parties can have on other parties, which are always wary to see free-riders benefit from their own commitment. The executive secretary has described the precautionary principle as an important tool in this respect: “We are here to serve the parties’ will, but we are also reminding them of their responsibilities.”28

Arguably, the diplomatic skills of the ozone secretariat’s top executives have brought about the most visible manifestations of its practical (p.238) influence within the ozone regime. Both Mostafa Tolba and Madhava Sarma are commonly described as very proactive executive secretaries who have been influential in furthering the institutionalization and implementation of international ozone politics. Numerous insiders to the Montreal Protocol have expressed the general importance for the secretariat to have a strong and proactive leadership to be effective; almost always they refer to one or both of them in order to illustrate their point. According to one senior officer, both of them typically sought informal ways to incite the parties to eventually concede what they intended them to concede. In particular, they often succeeded in brokering consensus on controversial issues before formal negotiations between parties began. Conversely, an anxious executive secretary would have little grip on the directions in which intergovernmental negotiations evolve and would thus risk diminishing the regime’s progress.29

Joanna Depledge (2007) addressed the climate change negotiations to scrutinize the pivotal role of executive secretaries at conferences of the parties by means of their direct interactions with the ever-changing chairpersons. Although the specific relationship between secretariat executives and conference chairpersons was not systematically studied in this case study, it is reasonable to assume that similar mechanisms are at work every time the parties convene. In fact, when I presented Depledge’s findings during a follow-up interview and asked about parallels to the ozone negotiations, this was emphatically affirmed.30

The crucial role of organizational leadership in ozone politics can be traced back to before the emergence of the permanent ozone secretariat, when intergovernmental ozone negotiations were provided for by the Ozone Unit of UNEP. Although scholars generally hesitate to attribute prominence to individual leadership in relation to other explanatory variables, the appraisal of Mostafa Tolba’s contribution in furthering the formation of a substantive ozone regime is unanimous. Talking to participants of early ozone negotiations or screening the literature on the origins of the Vienna Convention, it is hard to avoid what leadership researcher Alan Bryman mocks as “hagiographic pen pictures of successful leaders” (1996, 288). In the world of ozone negotiators, Tolba appears to enjoy a larger-than-life status in terms of charismatic leadership, diplomatic skill, and personal authority. Peter M. Haas (1992, 194), for instance, praised him as “instrumental in hammering out the final compromises” of the Montreal Protocol, and to Oran Young (1991), Tolba exemplifies an ideal typical “entrepreneurial (p.239) leader” who capitalized on individual skills and formal stature to substantially advance the cause of the ozone regime.31 Own communications with officers of the ozone secretariat and officials who have been involved with ozone negotiations acknowledge Young’s caption, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm.32 Edward Parson (2003, 205) deemed it worth noting that a proposal of Tolba at the 1990 meeting of the parties was “unusually timid,” thereby underscoring that usually he was quite the opposite.

Madhava Sarma, Tolba’s successor and the first executive secretary of the new ozone secretariat in 1987, is also credited with strong leadership. Like his predecessor, he has been described as a charismatic and skillful diplomat who was respected by industrialized and developing countries alike. In particular, he has been credited for breaking negotiation deadlocks through personal interventions that were crucial in bringing about ambitious amendments to the Montreal Protocol at meetings of the parties. It does not diminish the genuine contributions of Sarma to note that his first years as executive secretary were facilitated by the fact that Tolba was still present in ozone politics as UNEP’s executive director.

As far as the new executive secretary, Marco Gonzalez, is concerned, officers have been reluctant to compare him to his predecessors. For one, it was too early to pass a fair judgment at the time most interviews were undertaken (2003); secondly, the Montreal Protocol has entered a phase that is unlikely to see similarly groundbreaking developments as the 1980s and early 1990s. It was noted, however, that he appears to prefer a comparatively cautious approach vis-à-vis the parties.33

Conclusion

This chapter investigated the ozone secretariat’s contribution to the overall success of the international ozone regime. Major explanations for this success story thus far emphasize the influence of a strong epistemic community; the availability of and business interests in economically attractive technical solutions; genuine concern among decision makers in powerful industrial countries; and the provision of authoritative leadership by committed individuals. Given this set of explanatory factors, did the work of the ozone secretariat make any difference?

Following from this analysis, it did. In an unspectacular way, the ozone secretariat contributed to ozone politics by facilitating highly constructive intergovernmental negotiations—on stage and behind the (p.240) scenes. This activity was helped by the good reputation that the ozone secretariat enjoys among parties, which in turn reflects the successful realization of its core functions and in particular a record of smooth servicing of the parties. In the complex institutional web of international ozone politics, the ozone secretariat really is the hub.

From this vantage point, the institutional maze of the ozone regime and the increasing complexity of the policy issues it is dealing with create opportunities for the ozone secretariat to influence ozone politics in spite of its miniscule size and modest resources. The potential stemming from the secretariat’s thick embeddedness is aptly exploited, namely through the strong expertise vested in the bureaucracy and an organizational leadership that maintains a clever balance between keeping a low profile while instigating parties to move ahead.

This organizational behavior was enabled, in particular, by the authoritative expertise represented by the organization as a whole, as well as by its officers. Arguably, there are few policy makers at domestic levels that could possibly match the comprehensive grasp of the secretariat of the myriad legal and technical provisions around the Montreal Protocol.

Moreover, the secretariat is widely credited for its neutrality and professionalism, as well as transparency in its activities. This is perceived as its most precious asset inside the secretariat in view of its standing visà-vis the parties. Accordingly, officers at all levels emphasized the need to sustain this level of satisfaction among their “clients.” Indeed, there was a sense of pride within the ozone secretariat over its smooth relations with parties in both industrialized countries and developing countries. Thus, inside the secretariat it is seen as a reward for good performance that governments approved additional program officers, even at a time when there is a tendency to cut back on international civil servants.

Though the challenge to halt ozone layer depletion is no longer in the limelight of international environmental politics, the ozone secretariat is still required to oversee that governments keep dealing with it. Indeed, as intricate conflicts between ozone policy and climate policy need to be mastered, parties may soon turn to a proved and tested agent for further guidance.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to my interviewees at the ozone secretariat in Nairobi and in particular to Deputy Executive-Secretary Michael Graber for facilitating (p.241) my participation at the First Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Montreal, Canada, 24–26 March 2004. For valuable comments on this case study, I am indebted to the MANUS project team.

Notes

(1) For comprehensive assessments and further references, see the United Nations’ own account (Andersen and Sarma 2002) and the seminal volume of Edward A. Parson (2003); for early case studies of ozone politics with a lasting impact on the study of international regimes see, in particular, Young 1989 and Haas 1992.

(2) His impressive list of interviewees covers 124 interviews over twelve years (1990–2001), but merely two UNEP officers (see Parson 2003, 281–284).

(3) Wettestad suggests that the establishment of the ozone secretariat was a compromise between governments that wanted to bestow the administration of the Vienna Convention on the World Meteorological Organization, which is predominantly staffed with scientists, and governments that wanted UNEP to perform this function, as an organization that is shaped by more “political” UN career officers (2001, 161).

(4) Author’s interview with the deputy executive secretary, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(5) Sarma served the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol from 1987 to 2000. He had followed Mostafa Tolba, who, as the then-incumbent UNEP executive director, was acting as the first executive officer of the Vienna Convention. Deputy Executive-Secretary Michael Graber served as acting executive secretary prior to Marco Gonzalez’s arrival in 2002.

(6) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(7) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(8) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(9) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003; author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(10) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(11) Author’s interview with the deputy executive secretary, ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(12) See http://ozone.unep.org/ratification_status/ (accessed 21 May 2008).

(13) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003.

(14) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006.

(15) Personal communication at Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties–1, Montreal, 24–26 March 2004; see also IISD 2004.

(p.242) (16) In the meantime, a U.S. court required the U.S. government to disclose the respective information; author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(17) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September, 1 October and 6 October 2003.

(18) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(19) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September and 6 October 2003.

(20) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(21) For a comprehensive analysis of the costs and salience of international ozone politics and how they changed over time, see Parson (2003).

(22) This problem has been addressed by making these countries’ efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances eligible for funding through the GEF. The Multilateral Fund thus remains a preserve of developing countries.

(23) On the specific requirements of the Montreal Protocol including its amendments, see the handbook that is published and regularly updated by the ozone secretariat (UNEP 2003).

(24) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(25) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 and 7 October 2003; for further anecdotal evidence, see Churchill and Ulfstein (2000).

(26) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003.

(27) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006.

(28) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(29) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003; similar, if typically more cautious statements were made by other officers that were interviewed at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September, 1 and 6 October 2003, and 5 October 2006.

(30) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(31) For further praise see the account of Richard Benedick (1998), who was the U.S. chief negotiator throughout Tolba’s term of office, or Canan and Reichman’s (2002, 48–52) caption of Tolba “at the intersection of history, biography and personality.”

(32) A few more critical narrators suggested that there have been difficulties, too, referring to a larger-than-life ego of the UNEP’s longest-serving executive director and a rather peculiar leadership style.

(33) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006. In the more recent interview, it was suggested that Gonzalez’s rather cautious stance might be linked to increased anxiety in a view of the (p.243) U.S. administration, an issue that had even led, at one point, to tangible differences of opinion inside the secretariat.

References

Bibliography references:

Andersen, Stephen O., and K. Madhava Sarma. 2002. Protecting the Ozone Layer: The United Nations History. London: Earthscan.

Bauer, Steffen. 2006. “Does Bureaucracy Really Matter? The Authority of Intergovernmental Treaty Secretariats in Global Environmental Politics.” Global Environmental Politics 6 (1): 23–49.

Benedick, Richard E. 1998. Ozone Diplomacy. New Directions in Safeguarding the Planet. Enlarged edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Biermann, Frank. 1997. “Financing Environmental Policies in the South: Experiences from the Multilateral Ozone Fund.” International Environmental Affairs 9 (3): 179–219.

Bryman, Alan. 1996. “Leadership in Organizations.” In Handbook of Organization Studies, edited by Stewart R. Clegg, Cynthia Hardy, and Walter R. Nord, 276–292. London: Sage.

Canan, Penelope, and Nancy Reichman. 2002. Ozone Connections. Expert Networks in Global Environmental Governance. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf.

Churchill, Robin R., and Geir Ulfstein. 2000. “Autonomous Institutional Arrangements: A Little-noticed Phenomenon in International Law.” American Journal of International Law 94:623–659.

Depledge, Joanna. 2007. “A Special Relationship: Chairpersons and the Secretariat in the Climate Change Negotiations.” Global Environmental Politics 7 (1): 45–68.

Downie, David L. 1995. “UNEP and the Montreal Protocol.” In International Organizations and Environmental Policy, edited by Robert V. Bartlett, Priya A. Kurian, and Madhu Malik, 171–185. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Haas, Peter M. 1992. “Banning Chlorofluorocarbons: Epistemic Community Efforts to Protect Stratospheric Ozone.” International Organization 46:187– 224.

IISD, International Institute for Sustainable Development. 2003. Summary of the Fifteenth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: 10–14 November 2003.Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 17 November.

IISD, International Institute for Sustainable Development. 2004. Summary of Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: 24–26 March 2004.Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 29 March.

Litfin, Karen T. 1994. Ozone Discourses: Science and Politics in Global Environmental Cooperation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Parson, Edward A. 2003. Protecting the Ozone Layer: Science and Strategy. New York: Oxford University Press. (p.244)

Sandford, Rosemary. 1992. “Secretariats and International Environmental Negotiations. Two New Models.” In International Environmental Treaty Making, edited by Lawrence E. Susskind, Eric J. Dolin, and J. William Breslin, 27–51. Cambridge, MA: Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Sandford, Rosemary. 1994. “International Environmental Treaty Secretariats: Stage-Hands or Actors?” In Green Globe Yearbook of International Cooperation on Environment and Development 1994, edited by Helge O. Bergesen and Georg Parmann, 17–29. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sandford, Rosemary. 1996. “International Environmental Treaty Secretariats: A Case of Neglected Potential?” Environmental Impact Assessment Review 16:3–12.

UNEP. 2003. Handbook for the International Treaties for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The Vienna Convention (1985). The Montreal Protocol (1987). 6th edition. Nairobi: UNEP.

Wettestad, Jørgen. 2001. “The Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Layer Depletion.” In Environmental Regime Effectiveness. Confronting Theory with Evidence, edited by Edward L. Miles, Arild Underdal, Steinar Andresen, Jørgen Wettestad, Jon Birger Skjærseth, and Elaine M. Carlin, 149– 170. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Young, Oran R. 1989. “The Politics of International Regime Formation: Managing Natural Resources and the Environment.” International Organization 43 (3): 349–375.

Young, Oran R. 1991. “Political Leadership and Regime Formation: On the Development of Institutions in International Society.” International Organization 45 (3): 281–308.

Notes:

(1) For comprehensive assessments and further references, see the United Nations’ own account (Andersen and Sarma 2002) and the seminal volume of Edward A. Parson (2003); for early case studies of ozone politics with a lasting impact on the study of international regimes see, in particular, Young 1989 and Haas 1992.

(2) His impressive list of interviewees covers 124 interviews over twelve years (1990–2001), but merely two UNEP officers (see Parson 2003, 281–284).

(3) Wettestad suggests that the establishment of the ozone secretariat was a compromise between governments that wanted to bestow the administration of the Vienna Convention on the World Meteorological Organization, which is predominantly staffed with scientists, and governments that wanted UNEP to perform this function, as an organization that is shaped by more “political” UN career officers (2001, 161).

(4) Author’s interview with the deputy executive secretary, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(5) Sarma served the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol from 1987 to 2000. He had followed Mostafa Tolba, who, as the then-incumbent UNEP executive director, was acting as the first executive officer of the Vienna Convention. Deputy Executive-Secretary Michael Graber served as acting executive secretary prior to Marco Gonzalez’s arrival in 2002.

(6) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(7) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(8) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(9) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003; author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(10) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(11) Author’s interview with the deputy executive secretary, ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September 2003.

(12) See http://ozone.unep.org/ratification_status/ (accessed 21 May 2008).

(13) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003.

(14) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006.

(15) Personal communication at Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties–1, Montreal, 24–26 March 2004; see also IISD 2004.

(p.242) (16) In the meantime, a U.S. court required the U.S. government to disclose the respective information; author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(17) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September, 1 October and 6 October 2003.

(18) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(19) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September and 6 October 2003.

(20) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(21) For a comprehensive analysis of the costs and salience of international ozone politics and how they changed over time, see Parson (2003).

(22) This problem has been addressed by making these countries’ efforts to phase out ozone-depleting substances eligible for funding through the GEF. The Multilateral Fund thus remains a preserve of developing countries.

(23) On the specific requirements of the Montreal Protocol including its amendments, see the handbook that is published and regularly updated by the ozone secretariat (UNEP 2003).

(24) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003.

(25) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 and 7 October 2003; for further anecdotal evidence, see Churchill and Ulfstein (2000).

(26) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003.

(27) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006.

(28) Author’s interview with the executive secretary, Nairobi, 26 September 2003.

(29) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 7 October 2003; similar, if typically more cautious statements were made by other officers that were interviewed at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 30 September, 1 and 6 October 2003, and 5 October 2006.

(30) Author’s interview at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 5 October 2006.

(31) For further praise see the account of Richard Benedick (1998), who was the U.S. chief negotiator throughout Tolba’s term of office, or Canan and Reichman’s (2002, 48–52) caption of Tolba “at the intersection of history, biography and personality.”

(32) A few more critical narrators suggested that there have been difficulties, too, referring to a larger-than-life ego of the UNEP’s longest-serving executive director and a rather peculiar leadership style.

(33) Author’s interviews at the ozone secretariat, Nairobi, 6 October 2003 and 5 October 2006. In the more recent interview, it was suggested that Gonzalez’s rather cautious stance might be linked to increased anxiety in a view of the (p.243) U.S. administration, an issue that had even led, at one point, to tangible differences of opinion inside the secretariat.