Date of Award

Spring 2016

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Political Science


Dr. Dan Chong

Committee Member

Dr. Eric Smaw

Committee Member

Dr. Rachel Newcomb


In light of the controversies surrounding international arbitration systems and the growing threat of global climate change, this paper aims to answer the following questions: Do international trade arbitration mechanisms undermine national environmental regulations and initiatives, and if so, in what ways does this happen, and how might these mechanisms be reformed? By applying four different theoretical models of international arbitration to four cases studies illustrating how state environmental policies have clashed with private interests in the past, I develop a comprehensive power-based model of arbitration that provides insight into international arbitration systems' current inequities and how these systems may be reformed to allow governments to better meet modern environmental challenges. Recommended solutions include giving international environmental agreements more legal teeth, establishing an arbitration defense fund for developing countries via the World Bank, and creating a class action-style arbitration platform that does not require representation by a corporation or state government.