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Posted on on May 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bureaucratic influence when secretariats grow: The example of the UNFCCC, by Axel and Katharina Michaelowa, CIS Working Paper 80/2013, Zurich; download at

The CDM revenues have led to a massive resource inflow for the UNFCCC Secretariat, covering more than half of its budget. Using document analysis, interviews and regression analysis, we show that the UNFCCC Secretariat, at least in areas that require technical expertise and that are politically not overly contentious, can gain substantial influence over concrete CDM-related policy decisions and even change the structure of decision making and consultation processes. We also show that this may reinforce rather than reduce the role of special interests expressed via country delegates in the CDM EB. While one might be worried about the erosion of democratic principles at the international level, from a normative perspective, the overall effect is difficult to assess. If the international UNFCCC staff is well trained, technically competent, and committed to the delivery of the global public good of climate change mitigation, its increasing autonomy and influence may also be socially advantageous.

Best regards,

Axel Michaelowa

Institute of Political Science / University of Zurich
Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS)
Hirschengraben 56
8001 Zurich

Phone: +41 433550073
Mobile: +41 762324004
Fax: +41 448204206

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