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NGO Advocacy and Humanitarian Norm Creation in Europe

Margarita Petrova
Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals – IBEI
Margarita Petrova
Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals – IBEI
Open Panel

Abstract

Recently, the campaigns to ensure civilian protection by banning indiscriminate weapons such as landmines and cluster munitions have become some of the most prominent examples of transnational advocacy and international rule-making. The paper will examine, on the one hand, the role of NGOs in shaping the positions of two leading European states in the processes that led to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and on the other, the impact those processes have had on EU policy. Based on the cases of Belgium and Norway and the domestic structure model (Risse-Kappen 1995), I will argue that NGO coalition-making strategies and campaign success were only partially influenced by the state institutional structures. Indeed, NGOs were able to establish effective partnerships with policymakers at different levels, including with parliamentarians, that are not predicted by the model, and in turn, managed to reshape their political opportunity structures. The expectations of the model are upheld, however, regarding the importance of compromise-oriented decision-making in norm formation and domestic policy consolidation. While the partnerships between domestic and international NGOs and European states have been key for the success of international norm emergence, there has been a limited degree of Europeanization of NGO activities at the norm formation stage apart from lobbying in the European Parliament. Thus, although we see transnationalization in this field, there has been little “Europeanization from below” (della Porta and Caiani 2009) of NGO action at the early stages of norm making. Whereas this is hardly surprising given the EU consensus rule in foreign and security affairs, I will argue that the new international norms have in turn influenced EU policy-making and contributed to increased EU actorness in foreign and security policy. Certain European states in tandem with NGOs have paved the way for norm development, and once successful, it has fed back into a more active EU role in norm promotion that over time could result in shifting the focus of NGO action to the EU level.