Between Morality and Military Interests : Norm Setting in Humanitarian Arms Control

Wisotzki, Simone


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 92
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2010
Publikationsdatum: 02.02.2011
Originalveröffentlichung: (2010)
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.72 (Internationale Organisationen), 89.77 (Rüstungspolitik), 89.85 (Militärische Logistik, Bevorratung), 89.76 (Friedensforschung, Konfliktforschung)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

The concept of humanitarian arms control emerged in the context of the new security challenges of the 21st century. The 1997 Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines, the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PoA) and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions all set out to introduce arms control instruments to regulate not only uncontrolled transfers of arms, but also to end or to limit the indiscriminate use of weapons, and to deal with the long-term effects following intra-state conflicts. The three institutions share similar characteristics and thus permit the conclusion that a structural change has taken place in arms control and disarmament. This change is a consequence of the changed security environment after the end of the Cold War: Fragile statehood, economic under-development, internal state conflicts, terrorism and transnational organized crime provided the international state community with new challenges calling for different and new forms of arms control. This report identifies the indicators for this change and examines the reasons for the development of particular forms of arms control and disarmament. The three regimes banning anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions and restricting the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons all show similar characteristics which were decisive for their evolution and have given a new face to arms control as a whole. The key normative agents that were decisive for this structural change included transnational campaigns by non-governmental organizations as well as a number of small and medium-sized states. These alliances managed to get the arms control agreements off the ground despite opposition from the leading powers. Two factors were remarkable: On the one hand, the special negotiating formats which were set up for the Ottawa and Oslo processes and, on the other hand, “new diplomacy”, which was characterized by a mutual “give and take” between the different actors. By involving NGOs, like-minded states sought global public support and gained additional legitimacy for their ambivalent undertaking. By granting civil society stakeholders the right to participate in the negotiations, these states also enabled NGOs to gain certain influence on the norm generation processes. The change of perspective on arms control also becomes visible in a different, individualized understanding of security. Instead of concentrating exclusively on improving state’s security, attention is now being increasingly directed towards human security. Embedded in the concept of “human security”, one finds references to larger concepts such as development aims and conflict resolution practices. Humanitarian arms control is concerned with mitigating the consequences of the use of weapons as well as their deliberate misuse during and following intra-state conflicts. This new understanding of arms control lies within the wider context of security sector reform, which seeks to make fragile states capable of guaranteeing public security again, but it also addresses individual human needs in post-conflict situations such as victim rehabilitation and reintegration. The new arms control and disarmament agreements are an outcome of specific normgenerating processes which are to be seen in the context of “new humanitarianism”. The most visible expression and, at the same time, probably the most controversial expression II of this new humanitarianism are a number of military interventions in response to gross violations of human rights and the deliberate disregard of international humanitarian law, as for example in Ruanda or Bosnia. Questions of justice are becoming the direct legitimization for state action and have also inspired and triggered norm-generation processes in other policy fields – for example, the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Moral convictions or questions of justice also motivated norm generating actors in the field of humanitarian arms control. In all three cases under consideration, the need for a new institution was determined by the moral conviction that action must be taken against numerous incidents of severe injustice where innocent people and civilians were killed or wounded by the indiscriminate use of these weapons in cases of intra-state conflicts. This conviction is based on one of the few global concepts of justice in international relations which is also anchored in international humanitarian law, such as the principle of need and proportionality. At the same time, this moral conviction has provided the basis for norm development in the field of humanitarian arms control: The suffering of the civilian population as a result of the use of antipersonnel mines or cluster munitions prompted non-governmental organizations to demand of states to take action and seek a norm banning the use of such weapons. Certain convictions of justice, which seem to be shared in the international system of states, were finally enshrined in the principles, norms and procedures of the three regimes. According to the principle of equality, for example, all states parties must renounce the use of anti-personnel mines or cluster munitions and compile an overview of their national stocks of small arms. A further characteristic of humanitarian arms control is the comprehensive application of the principles of proportionality, need and compensation. For example, the costs-by-cause principle applies to the clearance of cluster munitions. Those states which are particularly affected can rely on technical as well as financial support under the Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. This structural change towards humanitarian arms control is significant for arms control and for disarmament as a whole. However, the moral convictions and the principles of justice demanded by the NGOs in particular touched the limits of national and national security interests. Normative conflicts occurred in the negotiating processes of all three regimes; particularly over question of the appropriate definition of weapons categories, but also with regard to the possible renunciation of sovereignty, for example banning transfers of arms to non-state actors or prohibiting the private possession of weapons. Although the principles of proportionality, necessity and compensation and the recognition of the special needs of the affected states provided an important impetus for the negotiations, the actual implementation process, particularly of the PoA, has been very slow.

Kurzfassung auf Deutsch:

Das Anti-Personenminenverbot von 1997, das Kleinwaffenaktionsprogramm von 2001 und die Streubombenkonvention von 2008 weisen auf einen Formenwandel in der Rüstungskontrolle hin. Alle drei Regime fokussieren stärker die menschliche Sicherheit und vertreten sicherheits- wie entwicklungspolitische Ziele. Die entscheidenden Initiatoren waren Nichtregierungsorganisationen, transnationale Kampagnen und Klein- und Mittelmächte, die, vereint durch überkulturelle Gerechtigkeitsvorstellungen, zu Normunternehmern wurden. Sie förderten neue Verhandlungsformen und konfrontierten die bestehende politische Verhandlungskultur mit einem diplomatischen Miteinander. Simone Wisotzki ermittelt die Indikatoren des Formenwandels, stellt die Gründe dar und benennt die Probleme, wenn globale Ziele der humanitären Rüstungskontrolle mit nationalstaatlichen Sicherheitsinteressen kollidieren. Sie verweist auf die Herausforderungen, die nach wie vor zu bewältigen sind, etwa die fehlenden globalen Normen zur Begrenzung des staatlichen Waffenhandels in Kriegs- und Krisengebiete, und fordert eindringlich, weitere Normentwicklung in der humanitären Rüstungskontrolle zu unterstützen.

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