This article aims to assess the effectiveness of two systems of governance with respect to the making of international treaties: the Canadian system, where the decision-making process is more centralized and where intergovernmental mechanisms are poorly institutionalized; and the Belgian system, where sub-state actors have the role of co-decision and where intergovernmental mechanisms are highly institutionalized. The central question to be discussed is: is the fact that one gives an important role to sub-state actors in the making of a country’s treaty by means of institutionalized intergovernmental mechanisms something that negatively or positively affects the foreign policy of a state? And is this a positive- or a negative-sum game at the level of the conclusion and implementation of treaties? The article concludes that the Belgian system is more effective, largely because its sub-state actors have an important role at every step of the conclusion of a treaty.
Paradiplomacy, federalism and international negotiation are increasingly prevalent phenomena that require more theoretical attention. Successful mobilization of non-central governments has increased their relevance on the international stage. The rise of paradiplomacy complicates conditions for both international negotiation and the formulation of foreign policy in federal regimes. Westphalian state diplomacy is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the proliferation of ad hoc and informal arrangements that bind non-central governments. The international arena is inhabited by an ever larger number of players that sometimes have significant autonomy from the central state.
This article sheds light on the complexity of international climate change negotiations in a federal country, like Canada, where there is no clear attribution of full power over international negotiation concerning this issue. Climate change is a multi-level and multi-stakeholder issue, one that can only be tackled successfully if all actors, at all levels of government, are involved in the process. In recent years, Canadian provinces, especially Québec, have become intensely involved in climate change paradiplomacy. That situation has led to a Canadian paradox where the Government of Québec worked to respect the Kyoto Protocol and act accordingly, while Canada opted out of the Protocol in 2011.