Rethinking leadership: understanding the roles of the US and China in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement
Source TitleEuropean Journal of International Relations
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sEckersley, Robyn
AffiliationSchool of Social and Political Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsEckersley, R. (2020). Rethinking leadership: understanding the roles of the US and China in the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, 26 (4), pp.1178-1202. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066120927071.
Access StatusOpen Access
ARC Grant codeARC/DP110100669
The study of leadership in International Relations has followed two different paths: work on hegemony and work on different leadership types in international negotiations. Yet there is little overlap between them and no agreement on the distinctive features of leadership and what connects leaders and followers in a collective pursuit. This article critically engages with both literatures and offers a reconceptualization of leadership as a form of legitimated asymmetrical influence that is marked off from domination and performs an important social function in facilitating collective agency towards common goals in a given community. This account is then operationalised in relation to multilateral negotiations to examine and clarify the roles of the United States and China in the negotiation of the mitigation provisions of the Paris Agreement. It is shown that the US under the Obama administration performed a sustained but largely transactional leadership role in bringing the parties to an agreement while China’s role was predominantly that of a defensive co-operator but with significant moments of shared leadership with the US towards the endgame. The analysis shows that, despite growing international expectations, China, unlike the United States, did not see its role as leading the world.
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