Analyzing International Environmental Regimes

From Global Environmental Accord: Strategies for Sustainability and Institutional Innovation

Analyzing International Environmental Regimes

From Case Study to Database

By Helmut Breitmeier, Oran R. Young and Michael Zürn





Regime theory has become an increasingly influential approach to the analysis of international relations, particularly in the areas of international political economy and international environmental politics. The conceptual appeal of the idea of "governance without government"—in which a combination of different organizations and institutions supply governance to address specific problems—reflects a world in which the demand for governance is great but the familiar mechanisms for supplying it are weak. Most research on international regimes employs qualitative methods, often using case studies to develop larger theoretical arguments; but a lack of standardization makes comparative analysis difficult. Analyzing International Environmental Regimes introduces the International Regimes Database (IRD), an important methodological innovation that allows scholars to adopt a quantitative approach to the study of international regimes.

The IRD is a relational database that makes it possible to compare records on specific aspects of a number of international environmental regimes that are coded using a single, well-defined set of concepts, definitions, and scales. The book first describes the database and discusses a number of methodological, technical, and architectural issues. It then illustrates the use of the IRD as an analytic tool, drawing on the database for descriptive statistics to evaluate theoretical ideas about compliance, decision rules, and the role of knowledge. A CD containing the full IRD data protocol and all the data currently in the database accompanies the book.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262026024 336 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 13 illus.


$6.75 X ISBN: 9780262524612 336 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 13 illus.


  • This book is a major contribution to the growing field of human-environment interaction. It uses a conceptual framework derived from a blend of international-relations and public-policy literatures to dissect the processes of assessing this interaction and its effects. In doing so, the authors move the field ahead in two ways, since the book charts a course for future research at the same time that it derives useful lessons for practitioners.

    Edward Miles

    School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington

  • Analyzing International Environmental Regimes works extremely well in its aim of introducing the IRD to a wider audience. It is an important methodological contribution to the literature in international environmental politics.

    Kate O'Neill

    Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley

  • In building the International Regimes Database, the authors have succeeded beyond what I would have thought possible. This work is unique in the field. In fact, it is a quantum leap ahead of everything else that currently exists. As such, it is a magnificent contribution.

    Edward Miles

    School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington