The Kyoto Protocol is a landmark in international environmental law. As the first derived legal instrument of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, its negotiation has been pioneering, and consequently the path has not always been smooth. This paper outlines the international political history of the Kyoto Protocol, placing the key events in the negotiation process in the context of the national and interest group politics that have characterized the climate regime for the past decade. The key aims, intervening politics, and subsequent outcomes of the pivotal Conferences of the Parties (COPs) pertaining to the Kyoto Protocol-The Hague, Bonn, and Marrakech-are described. An evaluation of the Protocol is then made, using a mix of public choice and international relations theories. The final section takes a broader perspective, placing the Kyoto Protocol within the international climate regime and other multilateral environmental negotiations, which may affect its operationalization and effectiveness.
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