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Europe, the USA, and the Shape of International Legal Order: A comparative study of International weapons restrictions

Final Activity Report Summary - WEAPONS RESTRICTIONS (Europe, the USA, and the Shape of International Legal Order: A Comparative Study of International Weapons Restrictions)

The aim of my project was to explore the development of new international norms in the field of international humanitarian law, focusing specifically on the cases of the prohibitions of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. It inquired into the approaches of different European countries and the United States to humanitarian and security issues, as well as into the contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to the development of international humanitarian law. Its objective was to explain the factors influencing state positions on arms control and draw lessons about the future opportunities for strengthening international law and civilian protection during and after armed conflicts.

The research area of my project crossed the lines of several disciplines including international relations, social movements, international law and just war theory. A major part of the research focussed on the significant development of international humanitarian law over the last 10 years, since the adoption of the ‘Convention on Cluster Munitions’ in December 2008 had important implications not only for the development of international law and theories of international norm formation, but also real implications for the lives of those weapons’ victims, the affected communities, the work of NGOs and future development aid programs. The two conventions banning cluster munitions and landmines also marked a paradigm shift in multilateral diplomacy and an increased attention to the promotion of human security rather than national security. The studied international processes represented major contributions to limiting the effects of war on civilians and therefore engaged the interest to the general public as well. For example, the landmine campaign, supported by celebrities such as Princess Diana, captured the attention of millions of people and there also was significant media interest and public outcry in the wake of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbullah, when large amounts of cluster munitions were used.

The Marie Curie support helped me carry out my research in this field. I was able to attend the majority of the negotiation conferences on cluster munitions that allowed me to gather first-hand information about the dynamics of international negotiations and law development, as well as to conduct numerous interviews with participants from state delegations and NGOs. It furthermore enabled me to attend additional courses and deepen my knowledge on international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as to present my work at academic conferences. And, most importantly, the fellowship contributed to my academic development by providing me with the opportunity to carry out my research at the ‘European University Institute’ and the ‘Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies’, where I benefited from the rich intellectual life and academic activities which were organised at the institute. It helped me acquire new academic skills, establish better connections within the European academic community, and chart my future academic career.

My research resulted in a book manuscript, namely ‘The politics of norm creation: State leadership and NGO partnerships in curbing the weapons of war’, and several articles and working papers, some of which were also circulated among NGO practitioners and researchers, that focussed on drawing lessons from the two campaigns for the prohibition of landmines and cluster munitions.