Sunday, April 17, 2011

Richard Price. 1998. Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines

Richard Price. 1998. "Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines." International Organization 52(3): 613-44. 

Price examines the hard case of the role of transnational nonstate actors working through issue networks to affect how states prepare for and wage war in order to demonstrate the influence of international politics on state practices of weapons procurement and military doctrine. He seeks to investigate the processes by which members of a transnational civil society seek to change the security policies of states by generating international norms that shape and redefine state interests. 
  • Terms:
    1. Civil society - the locale self-consciously identified by both the NGO (nongovernmental organization) community and by governments.
    2. Transnational - interactions across national boundaries where at least one actor is a nonstate agent.
    3. Transnational civil society - a set of interaction among an imagined community to shape collective life that are not confined to the territorial and institutional spaces of states. 
I. Introduction
  • In the 1990s, AP land mines became the object of a transnational campaign because they:
    1. hurt primarily populations without adequate emergency care
    2. rendered large tracts of land useless
    3. burdened economies with disabled survivors
  • The effort culminated in the signing of a comprehensive ban treaty by 122 states in December 1997.
II. Issue Generation and Moral Persuasion
  • Members of civil society were the primary movers in generating world wide concern about AP land mines when no international legal institutions existed to deal with the issue.
  • Civil society's most basic effect was the transnational dissemination of information about the scope of land mine use and its affects to transnational actors.
  • Transnational actors then politicized the issue and taught states that land mines were a problem by focusing on the victims and generating and publicly disseminating information to governments and wider society alike; the impetus for action came from outside the state.
  • Early steps such as a U.S. export moratorium on AP land mines were used by members of the campaign to challenge others to take leadership measures.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched an international media campaign in November 1995 directed at a worldwide ban on the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of all AP land mines in contrast to its usual reputation/role as a neutral humanitarian organization. 
  • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) provided support for national campaigns worldwide; as a direct result of their activities the issue received widespread coverage in the media, even in comic books. 
III. Networks
  • Civil society sought to achieve its aims by network with political officials in governments and international organizations. 
  • NGOs were allowed to participate in policy debates and interstate negotiations with state officials; they made statements, provided information, and the like.
  • An important effect of networking in an issue campaign is that it generates access to the policymaking process by transforming decisions about weapons doctrine from an insulated military matter into a political decision. 
  • The global web of electronic media, including telecommunications, fax machines, the Internet and World Wide Web played an unprecedented role in facilitating a global network of concerned supporters around the issue. Telecommunications and hyperlinked networks on the Internet are important in the following respects:
    1. They provide a web of surveillance that has not only facilitated widespread awareness of the sources of the problem
    2. They greatly facilitate the watchdog role of civil society in grading state and industry compliance with the AP land mine taboo.
    3. They create a "space" for politics occupied by a transnational political community--a space other than that bounded by the territory of the state--and, thus, undermine the idea that the international states system is the legitimate arena where politics across borders takes place. 
IV. Grafting
  • War and international humanitarian laws set the background against which efforts to ban weapons such as land mines were made intelligible. Two central concepts from these traditions:
    • Civilian discrimination / noncombatant immunity - one of the oldest notions of the just war doctrine, it meant that civilians are not to be intentional objects of attack during conflict.
    • Unnecessary suffering - the principle that means of warfare that cause superfluous injury are prohibited.
  • The ICRC was instrumental in institutionalizing such humanitarian norms of warfare, which legitimized efforts to restrict warfare among states.
  • AP land mines transgressed the norm of discrimination because they operate without immediate human intentionality and are indiscriminate in the nature of their effects.
  • Proponents of a ban grafted normative justifications from other weapons (chemical and biological weapons) that were already successfully branded taboo onto AP land mines to justify banning land mines.
V. Utility and Reversing the Burden of Proof
  • The ICRC commissioned an analysis of the "Military Use and Effectiveness of Anti-personnel Mines", which found that the use of anti-personnel mines never empirically played a major role in determining the outcome of a conflict; they only had a marginal tactical value under certain specific but demanding conditions.
  • Questioning the military utility of mines helped to instigate a comparable shift by making mine proponents publicly defend, to domestic and international audiences, what previously required no justification: the assumption that mines have military utility and thus pass the test of military necessity.
VI. Authority and Civil Society
  • The transnational campaign challenged and transformed the balance between civil society and the state in the constitution of security. 
  • State acceptance of the Ottawa treaty embodies how the issue has been defined: less like a war issue, where change tends to move at a glacial pace and states are reticent to intervene, and more like a humanitarian or health crisis for which norms have developed that legitimize rapid multilateral action.
VII. Conclusion
  • The role of moral persuasion and the social pressure arising from identity politics and emulation are particularly crucial.
  • Thee impetus for systemic normative change fostered by transnational civil society
  • Two widespread processes were stimulated by civil society:
    1. Norm adoption through moral entrepreneurship
    2. Emulation
  • Widespread acceptance of the validity of the AP land mine taboo is indicative of the emergence of a new norm, a status formalized by states signing and ratifying the land mines treaty. 

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