The Politics of International Regime Complexity Symposium
The increasing density of international regimes has contributed to the proliferation of overlap across agreements, conflicts among international obligations, and confusion regarding what international and bilateral obligations cover an issue. This symposium examines the consequences of the complex of overlapping, parallel and nested agreements for subsequent politics, thus the issue of overlap and complexity as an independent variable. Our central questions are: What insights can be gained by thinking about any single agreement as part of a larger complex of international rules and agreements? Does the existence of simultaneous and overlapping agreements alter either the strategies of players or the politics of the issue itself? Karen Alter and Sophie Meunier's introductory essay identifies the mechanisms through which nesting and overlap across agreements can influence politics, and identifies six modes through which overlap as an independent variable can manifest itself. Short contributions identify how the complex of international agreements affects politics in specific issue areas: refugee politics (by Alexander Betts), trade politics (by Christina Davis), human rights and trade (by Emilie Hafner-Burton), intellectual property politics (by Laurence Helfer), security politics (by Stephanie Hofmann), and election monitoring (by Judith Kelley). Daniel Drezner concludes by arguing that the complexity of rules may well benefit the powerful more than others.