International regime complexity and regional governance: Evidence from the Americas

Laura Gómez-Mera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


In recent years, the Americas have witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number and scope of regional integration agreements, resulting in a complex “spaghetti bowl” of trade and economic relations. What are the consequences of this proliferation of overlapping and parallel institutional commitments among countries in the region? How has this increasing regime complexity affected the dynamics of cooperation among Latin American countries? And what does the case of overlapping regional agreements in the Americas tell us about the effects of regime complexity on regional governance? Drawing on the literature on international regime complexity, I identify three mechanisms through which the proliferation of regional agreements have undermined the effectiveness of cooperation in the Americas: by introducing legal fragmentation and rule ambiguity; by facilitating cross-institutional political strategies that allow countries to behave in opportunistic ways; and through competition and other feedback effects that work to erode regional unity. The article has implications for two broader literatures in international relations: work on international regime complexity and scholarship on regionalism and regional trade agreements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalGlobal Governance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Global governance
  • Institutions
  • Regime complexity
  • Regionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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