Forum post 1:
The Ottawa Treaty is highly commended by scholars, diplomats and NGO representatives and considered to be an innovative model for future developments of international law. The efforts of NGOs to ban anti-personnel landmines resulted in the mobilization of countries and governments while also forming a global partnership. The anti-personnel landmines treaty was a major accomplishment at the end of the twentieth century in banning a weapon that had been used in most of the worldâ€s armed forces. One of the complications this treaty faced is the idea of banning anti-personnel landmines wasnâ€t agreed upon by every state. Belgium took the lead in 1995 and was being recognized as a state to become the first to pass the domestic law for banning landmines (Rutherford 2000, 74).
Two years later Belgium followed in 1997 and shortly after 122 states signed the treaty banning AP landmines. The Ottawa treaty was known as the fastest growing international agreement in history with a total of 138 states joining. The Ottawa Treaty banning the use of AP landmines serves as an example of a successful process presented by NGOs to serve an international political agenda even through implications it was met with. AP landmines resulted in deaths during conflicts, damage to infrastructure and creating an environmental hazard by making an area of land uninhabitable until cleared of all AP landmines. The implementation of the Ottawa treaty helped alleviate human suffering and some of the other security issues they presented. In 1997 The Nobel Peace Prize was presented to Jody Williams the coordinator of ICBL for the efforts formed to promote diplomacy worldwide (Rutherford 2000, 75).
The Atlantic Slave Trade was considered as the most successful and expensive moral effort in international history. The result was a total ban in slave trade and a new norm to be followed throughout the world. Britainâ€s anti-slave campaign went against its own interest and instead pursued an advanced moral principle. The decision Britain made at the time resulted in repercussions which were loss of life, wealth, injury of material interests of its citizens and putting its national security at jeopardy. It has also been a constant debate among scholars to recognize whether U.S. interventions, such as coming to the aid of Kosovo falls under the same category as an international moral issue along with the Atlantic Slave Trade (Pape and Kaufmann 1999, 633).
The Climate conference in Doha to discuss efforts in addressing the issue of the devastating effects of global climate change fell short in its objective. The conference meeting was aimed at limiting greenhouse-gas emissions but lacked in agreements to assist developing states cope with this issue. The UN has presented two tracks which were the Kyoto protocol and a mechanism created to combat climate change. Japan, Canada and Russia are some of the states signing the Kyoto protocol international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The meeting in Doha canâ€t be considered a success but more a way to promote awareness of climate change and the consequences it has on the whole world. One issue presented in Doha during the climate conference was the “loss and damage” effect caused by climate change but this was vetoed by influential member states and instead focused on recognized the suffering, costs of mitigation as topics of discussion (The Economist 2012).
The Atlantic Slave Trade and the Ottawa Treaty can serve as examples of some of the achievements accomplished through the use of transnational social movements. The global climate treaty and the Kyoto protocol in particular canâ€t be considered as a failure or success but rather a work in progress with some positive results but not to the extent of the Ottawa Treaty or the Atlantic Slave Tradeâ€s level. There is much room for improvement and lack of funding for a costly project such as the global climate change treaty mentioned in the Doha article. Not all developing states can afford to sign the treaty at the moment or would it be in their self interests as it would create new issues since they would need to actually enforce new greenhouse gas emission regulations and meet those requirements annually.
Forum post 2:
At times, international initiatives have been quite successful. However, there are other times when, in spite of the perceived importance, initiatives will fail. The abolition of slavery was a successful, huge, costly, and time consuming initiative. Unfortunately, although this initiative served the global community, the burden was carried by Great Britain alone. According to Chaim D. Kaufmann and Robert A. Pape, it was the most expensive international moral effort in modem world history (Kaufmann and Pape, 1999). Although it took approximately sixty years to accomplishment, certain elements had to be present to accomplish the mission. The main element in any campaign is communication. Great Britain was a dominating force on the seas, in the slave trade, and in sugar production, so we must as why they engaged in this international moral action. An international moral action is one that advances a moral principal, and is not tied to a selfish interest (Kaufmann and Pape, 1999, p. 633).
The mobilization of British abolitionists was the spark that ignited this movement. The belief in human dignity had been growing in the West, and for the abolitionists the stars aligned. Luck provided opportunities and the ability to create coalitions that conformed to their particular belief that slavery was part of a set of evils for which England would be punished. Contributing to this was the rise in the number of Protestant Dissenter sects and the fact that the Dissenters were able to gain the balance of power between the two main political parties. They were also willing to absorb high costs to correct the evil that was slavery. Also, in addition to the ability of the Dissenters to form coalitions among the Quakers, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Rational Dissenters (Unitarians), and Methodists, the Tory elite decided that their tarnished image would be enhanced by supporting the cause (Kaufmann and Pape, 1999).
Banning anti-personnel landmines was another successful campaign, although in this case the support and pressure was world-wide. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) played a large part in the success of this initiative. International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations which was formed in 1992 with the goal of ridding the world of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. The coalition began with six NGOs and has grown to become a network in over one hundred countries (ICBL, 2016). According to Global Policy Forum, there are now over 1,300 international NGOs working as part of the coalition (Global Policy Forum, 2018)). The first step of the NGOs was to place the issue of a land mine ban on the political agenda which increased media and public attention. The next step was to articulate and codify the issue into international law. This was done by altering the way in which governments perceived the legality of land mines. By drawing media and public attention to the issue, the NGOs were successful in changing to debate from a political issue to a humanitarian issue. This was apparently the first time that the majority of the nations of the world agreed to ban a weapon which has been in military use by almost every country in the world (Rutherford, 2000)
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (known as the Ottawa Treaty) now consists of 163 state parties to the treaty, 33 United Nations states, and numerous NGOs such as churches, rights groups, and disarmament groups (Rutherford, 1999)
Now that we have looked at these two policy initiatives, we must ask ourselves what lessons we can take away from them. The first thing that pops out at me is the use of communication and the means to distribute information. In the case of Great Britain, the abolitionist committees launched what at that time must have been a massive propaganda offensive. Along with pamphlets, tracts, and correspondence reporting the horrors of the slave trade and calling for its abolition they were able to generate a total of 621 petitions which contained approximately 450,000 signatures. These were the first major instances of mass petitioning as a form of popular political pressure. By transforming the issue from a political to a humanitarian issue, NGOs became part of the solution process. It was fruitful to center on landmine victims and feature them is all of the promotional literature. This put a face on the issue and was something that would give the public and the policymakers a better understanding of the situation.
What have we learned? Crafting the proper message and widespread communication of the message is the first and most important step. Careful attention must be given to the target audience. This will help to avoid wasting resources. NGOs appear to be the best partners in international campaigns. They have use of all of the modern forms of technology and know what works best. Sometimes an e-mail message has an effect, and newspapers, cable television and radio are very effective in keeping the message alive. Even small articles in newspapers help to get the message across. As we have seen with the issue of Great Britain and slavery, special interest groups should be engaged to exert influence and pressure on the policy makers As Rutherford has explained, the greater the public and government attention generated, the quicker the issue becomes part of the political agenda. The Ottawa Treaty was possible because of the sustained effort of thousands of citizens and interest groups as well as major NGOs working together to own the situation. Finally, I believe that technology will become a necessary part of coalition building. The social networks have proven to be accepted by millions of people, and are a good and inexpensive way to send a message. As the Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy declared in a 1997 forum in banning landmines “The involvement of civil society and the information technology revolution are the foundations on which a profound democratization of international politics is being built.” (Rutherford, 1999).
Forum post 3:
Despite the controversy surrounding the loss of population to Africa, what becomes most important are the deaths during the sea voyage which resulted from disease, maltreatment, malnutrition, shipwrecks and water crisis etc. Conditions didnâ€t improve much after slaves reached the mainland. The importation of slaves to the United States was finally abolished in 1808. This ban began after twenty years of debates and compromises that was fashioned to favor Southern delegates during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (“U.S. Law” 2012). There were also limits attached to the act which was passed in March of 1807, in that it did not prevent the sale of individuals already held in slavery. The illegal slave trade continued with over a million enslaved African Americans sold in the U.S. until after the Civil War, when slavery would finally be abolished. Great Britain enacted a similar law “the Slave Trade Act” which was passed by Parliament the same month and took effect in January 1808.
Determined to put an end to the suffering and casualties created by the anti-personnel mines that obstructed economic development and reconstruction, killing and injuring hundreds of defenseless civilians, including children and holding refugees in encampment causing years of displacement, held many of the same consequences as the African Slave Trade. Just as the African Slave Trade, all states held landmines as legal. The Ottawa Declaration on the Prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of; and on their destruction of Anti-personnel landmines was adopted in 1997. Currently, the signing of the ban convention by 138 states, enforced March 1, 1999, is found to be the quickest major international agreement ever enforced in history and was viewed by diplomats, NGOs and scholars as a groundbreaking model for future development of international law (Rutherford 2000, 75).
Realist theories of international relations credit the state as the major unit in the political system that has their best interest in mind when pursuing foreign policies and policies that do not appear to serve their direct interest. These are among the reasons that IR scholars have begun to focus on NSA (Transnational social movements and advocacy networks) that unite to assist in the many issues of international politics. According to Rutherford (2000, 78), NGOs used the media and the public to bring international attention to the landmine situation and in removing authority from the states. They were substantial in bringing issues such as climate change to the international agenda. NGOs were also instrumental in arguing the landmine issue into international law by changing how the government perceived its legality and use, Both arguments helped to explain why the Ottawa Treaty helped to change state behavior toward landmines.
In examining Kaufman et al. “Explaining Costly International Moral Action: Britainâ€s Sixty-year Campaign Against the Atlantic Slave Trade.” (1999), and Rutherford “The Evolving Arms Control Agenda: Implications of the Role of NGOs in Banning Antipersonnel Landmines.” (2000), understanding the failure of similar transnational coalitions to bring about global climate change would demand a consensus among the state and non-state actors working together, taking measures to make the earth climate neutral by complying with international climate agreements; and drawing not only from a political standpoint of self-interest but also on a humanitarian basis to include victim participation in their efforts.
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