The Institutionalization of a Cleavage: How Differential Treatment Affects State Behavior in the Climate Negotiations

Castro, Paula; Kammerer, Marlene (2021). The Institutionalization of a Cleavage: How Differential Treatment Affects State Behavior in the Climate Negotiations. International studies quarterly, 65(3), pp. 683-698. Oxford University Press 10.1093/isq/sqab045

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Differential treatment is a key norm in multilateral environmental agreements. Its main objective is to increase compliance and reduce the free-rider problem by apportioning the costs and benefits of implementation more equitably across the parties in an agreement. The question of how to differentiate those burdens is inextricably linked to national interests, and while in some instances differential treatment is well designed and facilitates cooperation, in other cases a rigid divide—or cleavage—leads to a stalemate and constant conflict. This article studies the consequences of differential treatment as institutionalized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Previous research has shown that the separation of UNFCCC parties into two opposing groups has deepened the polarization in the negotiations. We identify two causal mechanisms that may have driven this polarization, namely socialization through material incentives and the formation of group identity. We draw on an original dataset that records (dis)agreements between country pairs, coded from negotiation summaries between 1995 and 2013. Using a relational events model, we show that the division of UNFCCC parties into Annex I (with obligations) and non-Annex I (without obligations) is related primarily to material incentives and less to group identity formation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Kammerer, Marlene


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Oxford University Press




Jack Kessel Baker

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2021 14:29

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:51

Publisher DOI:



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