National Governments, Transnational Actors, and their Roles in the Creation of the North American Environmental Agreements and Institutions

Iván Farías


Most accounts in the current literature on North American integration consider the implementation of the two side and parallel environmental agreements to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and their corresponding institutions, as either a side-effect of the pursuit of the economic interests of the national governments, or the successful push of the socio-environmental demands of non-governmental organisations into the NAFTA’s negotiation. These opposite explanations closely resemble liberal intergovernmentalist and transnational-focused accounts used to explain the occurrence and progression of regional integration in Europe. This article reviews and challenges both accounts and argues that they both assess inadequately the interests of governmental and transnational actors, and their roles and relative influence in determining the outcome of the negotiations of the NAFTA’s side and parallel agreements on the environment. It proposes that a revised liberal intergovernmentalist account, that considers the non-economic national interests of nation-states, would explain better the pursuit and negotiation of the NAFTA’s environmental side and parallel agreements, and the institutional structure that resulted from them


North American environment; regional integration; NAFTA, liberal intergovernmentalism; transnationalism;

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