The implementation phases in the life cycle of an international instrument can be characterised as follows :

  1. Clarifying the process of implementation and allocating roles between IOs and members. The distribution of implementation competences between IOs and their members underscores the importance of co-ordinated action in this area.
  2. Disseminating IOs instruments to members and end-users and advocating their use.
  3. Providing the support to members and end-users to encourage implementation.
  4. Promoting compliance, and not only for binding instruments.
  5. Monitoring implementation to track the use of IOs instruments.
  6. Learning lessons arising from monitoring of implementation to enhance the normative activities of the IO overall.


The selection of implementation mechanisms should be tailored to the nature of the instrument, the subject matter and the collective issue it seeks to address. A comprehensive approach which draws upon a combination of mechanisms is central to advancing implementation. The lessons arising from the implementation of instruments should feed into the rulemaking process.


The following factors are considered important to select the appropriate implementation mechanisms:


  • Level of ambition – or expected scope of change. International instruments designed to promote prosperity, social justice, people’s well-being, or protection of environment require a high level of ambition, a political ownership and awareness by diverse stakeholders. In this case, the choice of the implementation mechanism will depend on the ability to involve all stakeholders up to the highest political level in order to produce “significant” and complex change of global policies. In other case, IOs instruments require “simple” technical reforms and implementation mechanisms involving stakeholders with appropriate expertise.

  • Normative strength – level of binding and non-binding characteristics of IO instruments. Legally binding instruments require to use formal implementation mechanisms to supervise implementation and typically provide for remedies and dispute settlement procedures. Conversely, the implementation of voluntary instruments is generally accompanied by soft tools with positive incentives.

  • Capacity of IO Secretariat – human resources, expertise, IT infrastructure and funding. For some IOs, developing implementation mechanisms may require seeking extra-budgetary funding from institutional or private donors.


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