The more things change, the more they stay the same: Developing countries’ unity at the nexus of trade and environmental policy


Journal Article

© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. The term “global South” refers to developing countries as a whole, but recently, numerous developing countries – Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Thailand, South Africa, and others – simultaneously grew wealthier while many other countries remain poor. This prompts a fundamental question: does the global South demonstrate unity in international politics, with developing countries at various wealth levels behaving like one another, and in ways unlike the industrialized “North”? Or is the global South fractured, too economically and politically diverse to operate in tandem? Theoretical expectations are mixed, and the empirical record is inconclusive. To adjudicate, we pinpoint a stringent set of observable implications that should hold if the developing world is to be considered at all unified vis-a-vis the industrialized world. Then we probe those implications with statistical analyses of over 3,600 paragraphs of text from governments’ negotiations concerning trade and environmental policy, a policy space that facilitates generalizability by representing fundamental sovereignty and wealth issues underlying traditional North-South frictions. Our finding – that overall, developing countries exhibit surprising unity – weighs in on central theoretical and policy debates in international relations, comparative politics, and political economy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, T; Urpelainen, J

Published Date

  • January 1, 2019

Published In

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1559-7431

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11558-018-9336-1

Citation Source

  • Scopus