Post-Treaty Politics

From Earth System Governance

Post-Treaty Politics

Secretariat Influence in Global Environmental Governance

By Sikina Jinnah

Foreword by Oran R. Young

An argument that secretariats—the administrative arms of international treaties—are political actors in their own right.





An argument that secretariats—the administrative arms of international treaties—are political actors in their own right.

Secretariats—the administrative arms of international treaties—-would seem simply to do the bidding of member states. And yet, Sikina Jinnah argues in Post-Treaty Politics, secretariats can play an important role in world politics. On paper, secretariats collect information, communicate with state actors, and coordinate diplomatic activity. In practice, they do much more. As Jinnah shows, they can influence the allocation of resources, structures of interstate cooperation, and the power relationships between states.

Jinnah examines secretariat influence through the lens of overlap management in environmental governance—how secretariats help to manage the dense interplay of issues, rules, and norms between international treaty regimes. Through four case studies, she shows that secretariats can draw on their unique networks and expertise to handle the challenges of overlap management, emerging as political actors in their own right.

After presenting a theory and analytical framework for analyzing secretariat influence, Jinnah examines secretariat influence on overlap management within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), two cases of overlap management in the World Trade Organization, as well as a case in which the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) secretariat failed to influence political outcomes despite its efforts to manage overlap. Jinnah argues that, even when modest, secretariat influence matters because it can establish a path-dependent dynamic that continues to guide state behavior even after secretariat influence has waned.


$55.00 X ISBN: 9780262028042 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 figure


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262526555 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 1 figure


Oran R. Young.


  • Post-Treaty Politics by Sikina Jinnah is a wonderful new monograph about the nitty-gritty details of everyday life in global governance.

    Review of International Organizations


  • Post-Treaty Politics sheds much-needed light on the role that international secretariats play in shaping the preferences of the states involved in international environmental institutions and the relationships among those states. Jinnah's systematic and rigorous theoretical framework makes a major contribution to our understanding of when and how secretariats influence global environmental governance.

    Ronald B. Mitchell

    Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon; author of Intentional Oil Pollution at Sea: Environmental Policy and Treaty Compliance

  • Jinnah demonstrates—in theory and in practice—that treaty secretariats and the civil servants inhabiting them shape global politics. Her framework reveals that such influence varies across issues, organizations, and time, laying the foundations for many years of research and knowledge building.

    Stacy D. VanDeveer

    Professor of Political Science, University of New Hampshire

  • In this pioneering book, Sikina Jinnah adeptly explores the independent roles that treaty secretariats play in international relations. Her sophisticated analysis of how and when secretariats influence policy-making, and the ways in which this matters, is essential reading to anyone interested in bureaucratic politics, international organizations, and global environmental governance.

    Henrik Selin

    The Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University


  • Winner, 2016 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award given by the Environmental Studies Section of the International Studies Association