Cover of Side Effects by Mark Aspinwall
Side Effects
Mexican Governance Under NAFTA’s Labor and Environmental Agreements
Mark Aspinwall


232 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804782296
Paperback ISBN: 9780804782302
Ebook ISBN: 9780804784788

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This is a story about governance in Mexico after the labor and environmental accords—called "side agreements"—that accompanied the NAFTA treaty went into effect. These side agreements required member states to uphold and enforce their labor and environmental laws; though never codified, it was widely accepted that Mexico, in particular, had a problem with law enforcement.

Side Effects explores how differences in institutional design (of the side agreements) and domestic capacity (between the labor and environment sectors) influenced norm socialization in Mexico. It argues that the acceptance of rule-of-law norms in environmental governance can be attributed to participating institutions' independence from national control, their willingness to give citizens access, and the professionalization and technical capacity of domestic bureaucrats and civil society actors. Changes in labor governance have been hampered by union confederations, longstanding corruption, and a closed opportunity structure. Going beyond a simple accounting exercise of resources devoted to enforcing the law, this book comes to grips with how best to strengthen local capacity and promote pro-norm behavior—advances essential to the task of development and democratization.

About the author

Mark Aspinwall is Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh.

"This is an important book about how North American free-trade side agreements on labor and the environment have impacted Mexican governance . . . Assessment and comparison of multiple variables leads to a sophisticated explanation of differences in the two selected policy areas as well as implications for other policy areas. Summing up: Highly recommended."

—M. A. Morris, Choice

"A timely, pioneering work about the impact of transnational integration regimes and mechanisms on domestic institutional change in developing countries . . . [R]equired reading for anyone interested in development, transnational markets/regulation, and studies in Latin American political economy and US trade."

—Gerald McDermott, Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

"With compelling insights and quality case material, this is by far the best book that I have read on NAFTA."

—Carol Wise, School of International Relations, University of Southern California