Into the Methodological Void

Researching Systemic Consequences of International Regimes
  • Gregor Walter
  • Michael Zürn


“We live in a world that is already in fact very different from the one which we have begun to comprehend, and by the time our comprehension has caught up with the new reality, the world is likely to be even more drastically different in ways that today seem unthinkable.”

This aphorism by Zbigniew Brzewinski is used as an epitaph in a book about “Global Public Policy” (Reinicke 1998). It explicitly points to the speed of the changes in world politics and to the substantial difficulties in grasping it. It tells us that we live in a time of transformation, which is different from the past, but also different from the future. In the context of this volume one very significant element of contemporary change certainly is an unprecedented rise of international regimes. The overall number of multilateral treaties as deposited with the United Nations has grown in a linear fashion from less than 150 in 1960 to well over 400 in 1998 (Hirschi et al. 1999: 40). It seems fair to speak of a roughly comparable number of international regimes (Keohane 1993). This growth pattern is replicated on the level of different issue areas. The number of new international environmental treaties and agreements has grown continuously since the beginning of the century. While up until the 1970s, in average every five years brought about five new treaties, this number has increased to about 25 from the 1980s onwards (see Beisheim et al. 1999: 351). A very similar pattern applies to the development of new international economic treaties and agreements (ibid.: 353). Will this rise of international regimes lead to “systemic consequences”? Will it change the deep structure of international society? Will the identity and role of states change as a result of multi-level governance? Will a very dense set of resilient international regimes foster peace?


International Relation World Politics Qualitative Comparative Analysis Issue Area International Regime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregor Walter
    • 1
  • Michael Zürn
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute für Intercultural and International StudiesUniversity of BremenGermany

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