The International Deployment of Shame, Second-Best Responses, and Norm Entrepreneurship: The Campaign to Ban Landmines and Landmine Ban Treaty

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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the ensuing Landmine Ban Treaty provide an interesting example of the successful articulation, deepening, and expansion of international norms. First, in simultaneously addressing governments, non-state actors, corporations, and civil society, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) demonstrated the potential of norm entrepreneurs to influence a broad audience through naming and shaming. Second, in framing the landmine issue, the ICBL recognized the im-portance of capturing universal norms when attempting to convince others of the benefits of change. In order to effectively shame those who challenged a strong norm against landmine use, the ICBL pursued a process outside tra-ditional international lawmaking forums. The ICBL and middle power states embraced a comprehensive ban to accelerate the development of the norm against landmine use, to bind state parties, and to shame non-state parties into "second-best responses" - instances in which states or other actors reject a specific norm, but undertake action that subscribes to the more abstract norm upon which the specific norm is based. This article addresses the mechanisms through which the norm against landmines was articulated, internalized, and enforced, as well as the ways in which the Landmine Ban Treaty codified and reinforced that norm. In particular, it explains how the combination of a strong norm and a treaty can constrain the United States.

Part I introduces concepts from behavioral law and economics to supplement the existing understanding of international norm development. Part II then applies the concepts of shaming and norm entrepreneurship to illuminate the case study of landmines. This article analyzes the ICBL's use of education and shaming campaigns to bring anti-personnel landmines onto the global agenda. It also explores how the ICBL successfully appealed to universal norms ac-knowledging civilians' inviolability, reflecting children's sanctity, and recognizing the environment's fragility. To illustrate the effectiveness of its international shaming process, the article contrasts the ICBL's push for a compre-hensive weapon ban to the efforts to amend the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and to the suggestions to negotiate at the Conference on Disarmament (CD). It concludes that the promotion of a total ban through an alternative international framework quickly developed a norm through both positive reinforcement and negative shaming techniques. Part II also presents empirical evidence to demonstrate the success of the ICBL and the Landmine Ban Treaty in changing the behavior of state parties and other relevant actors. In constraining the United States by limiting its range of interactions with state parties and facilitating its adoption of second-best responses, Part III shows how a treaty can assist in the enforcement of an international norm. By focusing on the case study of landmines, this article provides a broad sketch of a potential international law strategy for addressing other security issues and more broadly, for limiting other normatively undesirable state practices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-606
Number of pages46
JournalArizona Journal of International and Comparative Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


  • International law
  • treaties
  • norm
  • name and shame


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