Kenneth W Abbott

Kenneth W Abbott
Arizona State University | ASU · Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

JD

About

126
Publications
89,441
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9,085
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2003 - present
Arizona State University
Education
September 1966 - June 1969
Harvard University
Field of study
  • Law

Publications

Publications (126)
Article
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The institutions of global governance have changed dramatically in recent years. New organizational forms – including informal institutions, transgovernmental networks and private transnational regulatory organizations – have expanded rapidly, while the growth of formal intergovernmental organizations has slowed. Organizational ecology provides an...
Article
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Regulation is typically conceived as a two-party relationship between a rule-maker or regulator (R) and a rule-taker or target (T). We set out an agenda for the study of regulation as a three- (or more) party relationship, with intermediaries (I) at the center of the analysis. Intermediaries play major and varied roles in regulation, from providing...
Article
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Most governance is indirect, carried out through intermediaries. Governments work through executive agencies, independent regulators, independent central banks and courts; enlist professional associations; contract out public functions; and carry out foreign policy through international organizations, client states and foreign rebel groups; while i...
Preprint
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Contemporary global governance takes place not only through formal intergovernmental organizations and treaties, but increasingly through diverse institutional forms including informal intergovernmental organizations, trans-governmental networks and transnational public-private partnerships. While these forms differ in many ways, they are all what...
Article
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Most issue areas in world politics today are governed neither by individual institutions nor by regime complexes composed of formal interstate institutions. Rather, they are governed by “hybrid institutional complexes” (HICs) comprising heterogeneous interstate, infra-state, public–private and private transnational institutions, formal and informal...
Article
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Regulators and other governors rely on intermediaries to set and implement policies and to regulate targets. Existing literatures focus heavily on intermediaries of a single type – Opportunists, motivated solely by self‐interest. But intermediaries can also be motivated by different types of loyalty: to leaders (Vassals), to policies (Zealots), or...
Article
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Informal modes of cooperation are a central element of the complex institutional architecture of contemporary global governance. Collectively and individually, the contributions to this special issue broaden the emerging research on informal governance in world politics and provide novel empirical analyses based on unique data. In this introduction...
Article
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Contemporary global governance takes place not only through formal inter-governmental organizations and treaties, but increasingly through diverse institutional forms including informal inter-governmental organizations, trans-governmental networks, and transnational public–private partnerships. Although these forms differ in many ways, they are all...
Chapter
Architectures of Earth System Governance - edited by Frank Biermann May 2020
Book
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International institutions are prevalent in world politics. More than a thousand multilateral treaties are in place just to protect the environment alone, and there are many more. And yet, it is also clear that these institutions do not operate in a void but are enmeshed in larger, highly complex webs of governance arrangements. This compelling boo...
Book
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The Governor's Dilemma develops a general theory of indirect governance based on the tradeoff between governor control and intermediary competence; the empirical chapters apply that theory to a diverse range of cases encompassing both international relations and comparative politics. The theoretical framework paper starts from the observation that...
Chapter
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In what circumstances can transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs)—the myriad overlaps, intersections, conflicts, collisions and synergies amongst the actors and institutions involved in transnational regulation of business activity—be harnessed to enhance the quality of transnational regulation and advance the interests of marginaliz...
Book
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From agriculture to sport and from climate change to indigenous rights, transnational regulatory regimes and actors are multiplying and interacting with poorly understood results. This interdisciplinary book investigates whether, how and by whom transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs) can be harnessed to improve the quality of transn...
Chapter
The chapters of this book paint a mixed and not particularly optimistic picture of the prospects for harnessing transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs)—the myriad overlaps, intersections, conflicts, collisions and synergies amongst the actors and institutions involved in transnational regulation of business activity—to improve the qu...
Technical Report
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This is an analytical paper prepared for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). It will be published in 2018 as an OECD Regulatory Policy Working Paper. Trans-governmental networks (TGNs) have become among the most important international institutions in many areas of regulation and a major locus of regulatory co-operati...
Chapter
Climate change governance is in a state of enormous flux. New and more dynamic forms of governing are appearing around the international climate regime centred on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They appear to be emerging spontaneously from the bottom up, producing a more dispersed pattern of governing, which Nob...
Article
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A striking development in climate governance is the emergence of systems for non-state actors to make voluntary commitments alongside state undertakings. Because these commitments involve diverse actors carrying out diverse activities in diverse settings, they provide unprecedented opportunities for experimentation and learning. Yet voluntary commi...
Article
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Regulation is frequently viewed as a twoparty relationship between a regulator (R) and the targets of its regulation (T). This volume conceives of regulation as a three-party system, in which intermediaries (I) provide assistance to regulators and/or targets, drawing on their own capabilities, authority, and legitimacy. Our framework article for th...
Article
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Regulation should be theorized as a three-party relationship (RIT), with intermediaries (I) playing diverse roles between the regulator (R) and the targets of regulation (T). Here we summarize and assess extensions of the basic RIT model introduced in the volume, including changes in regulatory relationships over time, chains of regulatory actors,...
Article
Full-text available
The institutions of global governance have changed dramatically in recent years. New organizational forms—including informal institutions, transgovernmental networks, and private transnational regulatory organizations (PTROs)—have expanded rapidly, while the growth of formal intergovernmental organizations has slowed. Organizational ecology provide...
Article
Full-text available
Conflict, convergence, cooperation and competition among governance actors and institutions have long fascinated scholars of transnational law, yet transnational legal theorists’ accounts of such interactions are for the most part tentative, incomplete and unsystematic. Having elsewhere proposed an overarching conceptual framework for the study of...
Article
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As countries negotiate a new climate agreement for the United Nations climate conference in December 2015, a groundswell of climate actions is emerging as cities, regions, businesses and civil society groups act on mitigation and adaptation, independently, with each other and with national governments and international organizations. The Paris conf...
Article
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The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is a central element in the emerging governance architecture for sustainable development. Established at the 2012 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, the HLPF has a dauntingly expansive mandate – including setting the sustainable development agenda; enhancing in...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2506796. Most governance is indirect, carried out through intermediaries. Governors do not govern targets directly, but bring in third parties to increase efficiency, effectiveness or legitimacy. Sometimes these third parties are "internal" to the governor, as in the case of government bureaucracies, but often...
Chapter
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2452764. This chapter is the conclusion to an edited volume on “orchestration,” a mode of governance widely used by international organizations (IGOs) and other governance actors, but rarely identified or analyzed. IGOs engage in orchestration when they enlist public or private intermediary actors on a volunta...
Article
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International Organizations as Orchestrators reveals how IOs leverage their limited authority and resources to increase their effectiveness, power, and autonomy from states. By 'orchestrating' intermediaries - including NGOs - IOs can shape and steer global governance without engaging in hard, direct regulation. This volume is organized around a th...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2431956. While global solution networks are among the most promising ways to address global problems, they do not necessarily emerge spontaneously. Often, organizational entrepreneurs must “orchestrate” the creation and development of GSNs, providing information to potential participants, catalyzing and encour...
Conference Paper
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2524986. Governance for sustainability has made a striking turn to “transnational” institutions, in which non-state actors – including business firms, civil society groups and sub-national governments – play major roles along with or instead of national governments. Their numbers have expanded rapidly, especia...
Conference Paper
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2532228. This paper, a contribution to an OECD research project, outlines recent trends in international regulatory cooperation (IRC), the roles that international organizations (IOs) play in IRC, and how we might assess the effects of IO involvement. The trends are clear and striking: there has been an explos...
Article
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Available at: http//SSRN.com/abstract=2347166. This article demonstrates the value of studying interactions in transnational business governance (TBG) and proposes an analytical framework for that purpose. The number of TBG schemes involving non-state authority to govern business conduct across borders has vastly expanded in a wide range of issue a...
Chapter
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Available at: http://www.elgaronline.com/abstract/9781782545637.xml. This chapter introduces an edited volume that addresses the difficulties of regulating emerging technologies to control potential environmental, health and safety, social and ethical externalities. The chapter argues that technologies such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology -...
Article
Full-text available
The High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) is a central element in the emerging governance architecture for sustainable development. Established at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20), the HLPF has a dauntingly expansive mandate, including setting the sustainable development agenda; enhancing integrati...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2219554. The inadequacies of the inter-state institutions and negotiating processes central to international climate policy create a pressing need for governance innovation. This article proposes one promising and feasible approach: strengthening the existing transnational regime complex for climate change. Le...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2039552. Ayres and Braithwaite’s Responsive Regulation (RR) has opened up important new ways of thinking about regulation in the 20 years since its publication. But RR was envisioned as a tool for domestic agencies. Thus, although RR focused on encouraging business self-regulation, it was designed for a settin...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2125452. This paper develops a conceptual framework for analyzing orchestration, a mode of governance that is widely used by international organizations (IGOs) and other governance actors, but rarely identified or analyzed. IGOs engage in orchestration when they enlist intermediary actors on a voluntary basis,...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2088556. The intersection of international relations and international law (IR-IL) has developed into a sophisticated intellectual enterprise, yet there remains room for further advances. This chapter suggests a research agenda for the field as it moves into its next generation. Our argument turns on a series...
Article
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The manifest inadequacies of the inter-state negotiating processes central to international climate change policy create a pressing need for innovative modes of governance. This paper proposes one promising and feasible approach: constructing a transnational climate change regime. A transnational regime would forge stronger cross-border links among...
Article
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Responsive Regulation (RR) introduced important new ways of thinking about regulation. But RR was designed for domestic settings in which a single agency had clear jurisdiction, full regulatory capacity, and extensive information, and could (contingently) deploy stringent sanctions against well-defined targets. Under globalization, many regulatory...
Article
The governance of nanotechnology has two distinct aspects. First, because every developed nation is simultaneously developing the technology and regulatory oversight for nanotechnology, there is an unprecedented interest and effort in international harmonization of governance. Second, given the many challenges with traditional regulatory approaches...
Book
Emerging technologies create challenges for traditional regulatory approaches. The contributors to this book - leading scholars in law, innovation, and technology - address the need for new governance methods and models. © Gary E. Marchant, Kenneth W. Abbott and Braden Allenby 2013. All rights reserved.
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1966730. Negotiators preparing for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 20) are missing an important opportunity. Reforming the institutional framework for sustainable development is a central part of the Rio 20 agenda. In the run-up to Rio 20, negotiators have extensively discussed instituti...
Article
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In climate change, as in other areas, recent years have produced a 'Cambrian explosion' of transnational institutions, standards, financing arrangements, and programs. As a result, climate governance has become complex, fragmented, and decentralized, operating without central coordination. Most studies of climate governance focus on inter state ins...
Article
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In climate change, as in other areas, recent years have produced a 'Cambrian explosion' of transnational institutions, standards, financing arrangements, and programs. As a result, climate governance has become complex, fragmented, and decentralized, operating without central coordination. Most studies of climate governance focus on interstate inst...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1933562. The optimal design of international institutions to confront 21st century global challenges is an increasingly urgent question in areas ranging from climate change to health and security. A central issue is whether international institutions will maintain the state-centric models of governance they ha...
Article
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Negotiators preparing for Rio+20 are missing an important opportunity. Private sustainability governance (PSG) is thriving: organizations created by business and civil society groups, as well as public–private partnerships, adopt and apply significant regulatory standards and undertake valuable operational activities, including pilot projects and f...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1597809. Two critical questions for the regulatory oversight of nanotechnology are: at what level of government should regulation take place, and what form should regulation take? These questions are intrinsically linked. As to the first, it is widely assumed that national governments are the appropriate locus...
Article
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The United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro in June is an important opportunity to improve the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Article
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The current institutional framework for sustainable development is by far not strong enough to bring about the swift transformative progress that is needed. This article contends that incrementalism—the main approach since the 1972 Stockholm Conference—will not suffice to bring about societal change at the level and speed needed to mitigate and ada...
Article
Science assessments indicate that human activities are moving several of Earth's sub-systems outside the range of natural variability typical for the previous 500,000 years (1, 2). Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change (3). This require...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1931066, The process of designing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will reshape the global architecture of climate change financing over the coming months. Yet the promise of the GCF is imperilled by its embrace of 20th century state-centric approaches to governance that fail to engage the resources and energies o...
Article
Global environmental protection has featured high on the international political agenda since the United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Yet, despite more than 900 environmental treaties coming into force over the past 40 years, human-induced environmental degradation is reaching unprecedented levels. Human societies must...
Chapter
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1414430. When states take legal action to respond to scientific and technological developments, international coordination is essential,both to make regulation effective and to avoid the economic costs and political frictions experienced in the case of GMOs. Far more than domestic legal processes, however, the...
Article
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'Standards' are central mechanisms of international governance, but have different roles in various circumstances. These can be analyzed in terms of a simple typology.One key distinction is analytic: contrasting the Prisoners' Dilemma structure of traditional Pigovian externalities with the Coordination structure of network externalities. The secon...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1640200. A notable aspect of sustainability is its holistic and cross-cutting nature—it cannot be achieved by any single rule, statute or agency. Instead, sustainability must be institutionalized across the legal system and government as a whole. In this paper, we propose and examine five mechanisms for instit...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1424697. In less than a decade, nanotechnology has exploded from a relatively obscure and narrow technical field to a scientific, economic, and public phenomenon. The precipitous emergence of such a broad and significant technology has created an unprecedented opportunity to craft new regulatory or oversight a...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1487129. International organizations (IOs) have been widely criticized as ineffective. Yet scholars and practitioners assessing IO performance frequently focus on traditional modes of governance such as treaties and inter-state dispute-resolution mechanisms. When they observe poor performance, moreover, they o...
Article
Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1309743. Although it is often argued that government oversight is needed to assure public opinion does not mistakenly view nanotechnology as dangerous or to restore public trust in government agencies, a question that we ask in this article, and one that implicates many of the themes raised in the other papers...
Article
Nanotechnology is the latest in a growing list of emerging technologies that includes nuclear technologies, genetics, reproductive biology, biotechnology, information technology, robotics, communication technologies, surveillance technologies, synthetic biology, and neuroscience. As was the case for many of the technologies that came before, a key...
Article
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Nanomedicine holds enormous promise for the improved prevention, detection and treatment of disease. Yet, at the same time, countervailing concerns about the potential safety risks of nanotechnologies generally, and nanomedical products specifically, threaten to derail or at least delay the introduction and commercial viability of many nanomedicine...
Article
Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1483910. Regulatory oversight of nanotechnology is necessary yet problematic. The necessity of regulation, now or later, is driven by two related concerns. First, some nanotechnologies, if left unregulated, are likely to pose very real if currently unknowable risks of significant health or environmental damage...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1403517. A new kind of international regulatory system is spontaneously arising out of the failure of international "Old Governance" (treaties and intergovernmental organizations) to adequately regulate international business. NGOs, business firms and other actors, singly and in novel combinations, are creatin...
Article
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In this Chapter, we set out the pivotal questions relating to the United States approach to nanotechnology and other emerging technologies. We note how the experiences of biotechnology regulation are likely to continue to inform United States approaches. After setting out these principles, we discuss three regulatory experiences and approaches that...
Article
Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1304706. Profs. Kenneth Abbott, Gary Marchant, and Douglas Sylvester argue that regulation of nanotechnology should be flexible and adaptive; innovative; international; and official. In order to meet these requirements, the authors call for negotiation of an international framework convention on nanotechnology...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1000187. Over the past 20 years, the rational choice (RC) approach has produced a remarkable flowering of Institutionalist theory in International Relations (IR) and a substantial body of scholarship analyzing international law as a unique institution. Yet over the same two decades international governance has...
Article
Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1020104. Risk management of nanotechnology is challenged by enormous uncertainties about the properties, risks, benefits, and future direction of nanotechnology applications. Because of these uncertainties, traditional risk management principles including acceptable risk, cost-benefit analysis and feasibility...
Article
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Risk management of nanotechnology is challenged by the enormous uncertainties about the risks, benefits, properties, and future direction of nanotechnology applications. Because of these uncertainties, traditional risk management principles such as acceptable risk, cost–benefit analysis, and feasibility are unworkable, as is the newest risk managem...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1471362. The growing role of civil society in global health governance reflects profound and well- known changes in the overall system of global governance. In many respects, however, health governance is actually leading those changes. This paper uses the lens of Liberal international relations theory to expl...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=946777. With nanotechnology now a major funding priority for governments and industry around the world, devising the manner and timing of regulation presents a challenge. Too much regulation too soon could hinder development of beneficial technologies, while too little regulation too late may allow dangerous t...
Article
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As an international policy issue, nanotechnology (NT) presents a unique set of attributes and poses an extraordinary set of regulatory challenges. Given that NT is a major funding priority for governments and industry groups around the world, it is expected to rapidly evolve and advance, presenting risks and benefits that are still largely unknown...
Article
Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=907353. This paper represents a very early stage of a collaborative research project on transnational nanotechnology regulation. In this project, we seek to apply a multidisciplinary perspective to the question of regulation of nanotechnology (NT). We begin in Section I by considering the nature of NT and some...
Article
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Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=907356. International relations theory (IR) is widely recognized as a valuable tool for lawyers and legal scholars, especially in their social role as international policy-makers. The frameworks of IR help lawyers to analyze social problems in theoretically informed ways and develop ameliorative responses. Yet...
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Over the last ten years, international relations (IR) theory, a branch of political science, has animated some of the most exciting scholarship in international law. If a true joint discipline has not yet emerged, scholars in both fields have clearly established the value of interdisciplinary cross-fertilization. Yet IR -- like international law --...
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How do states and other international actors move from one level or type of cooperation (which might be the absence of cooperation) to stronger levels or types? While international cooperation sometimes occurs in “big bangs,” in which states jump suddenly from low to high levels of cooperation on an issue, cooperation typically advances incremental...