2019 Climate and Environment Other

International Acceptance of Climate Security Norms

Elin Jakobsson

This dissertation development brief provides further insights into how new norms become or do not become accepted in the international political system. It puts particular emphasis on how contingencies and windows of opportunity influence the evolution of new international norms. The study examines two contemporary climate security issues with contrasting outcomes – disaster risk reduction and climate-induced migration – in detail to produce new understanding about these mechanisms.

The report was presented during the seminar Grön styrning – hur går vi från ord till handling?

Main findings

  • Contingencies enhance understanding of norm acceptance in successful as well as in stagnated cases. If actively connected to the specific norm proposition, they function as triggers of moments of potential change, here referred to as windows of opportunity. These windows, in turn, cannot be utilized unless the other factors in the framework are favorable, have reached a certain level of maturity or are improved with the help of the window.
  • The case study on disaster risk reduction provided an example of how a natural catastrophe which coincided with an already planned and prepared summit on the subject interacted to propel disaster risk reduction toward norm acceptance.
  • The case concerning international protection for climate- induced migrants showed how three particular moments in time had promising potential to advance the norm toward greater acceptance but failed because there were no solutions to act on; either no viable window opened up to drive further attention and ultimate acceptance or the window was “negative”.
  • Including contingencies and windows of opportunity as an additional explanatory dimension provided insights into why a new norm proposition would be prioritized in an otherwise crowded international agenda, something that other factors cannot individually address.

Elin Jakobsson is a researcher and a teacher in International Relations at the department of Economic History and International Relations at Stockholm University. This brief is a condensed version of Elin’s doctoral dissertation Norm Acceptance in the International community: A study of disaster risk reduction and climate- induced migration which was defended on 19 October 2018. She holds a PhD in International Relations, being the first in Sweden to attain a doctoral degree in this subject. Elin’s research concerns international norm dynamics, climate security norms and global migration governance.