I sometimes think academics and government negotiators live in separate worlds when it comes to advancing the international policy agenda. Academics do intensive research; present in-depth analyses; and propose ways to resolve complex issues. Negotiators prepare briefs; try to reconcile diverging interests within their own countries; hold informal talks with their counterparts in other governments; and sit through long and exhausting international debates. Academic thinking rarely finds its way to the negotiating tables of the world, while political realities and constraints often are not considered in academic research.
Having a foot in both worlds, I believe I understand some of the reasons: academics cannot spare the time and money to attend international negotiations, while negotiators are simply too busy to subscribe to and regularly read academic journals.
An initiative by the Review of European Community and International Law (RECIEL) may help address at least the second of these constraints. As government representatives from around the world meet in Bangkok next week to debate preparations for the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, RECIEL offers one month of free access to its latest issue, devoted to chemicals management. Among other things, the issue features two articles on the Minamata Convention. I hope that during their flight to Bangkok, some negotiators might find time to relax and see what RECIEL’s contributors have to say. Who knows, some of it may thus find its way into the conference room!
The chemicals issue of RECIEL is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/reel.2014.23.issue-2/issuetoc.