Civil Society Coalitions and the Humanitarian Campaigns to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions
The ending of the Cold War ushered in an era of conventional arms control measures that were previously stymied by great power competition. Further, by the end of the 1990s, a civil society coalition working with middle power states had changed the way international law was made, and had achieved an outright ban not only on a conventional weapon but a weapon in popular use by ground forces and stockpiled by most countries in the world – the antipersonnel landmine. A decade later, a similar ban on cluster munitions was achieved by a related coalition. The popularity of these bans, for ostensibly humanitarian reasons, and in what came to be termed “humanitarian arms control” led to normative changes in State behavior, and changes to customary international law. Additionally, civil society groups found ways to bring other users of these weapons, armed non-state actors, to be accountable under international law. That challenged the long-held notions not only that the State holds the monopoly on the threat or use of force but also who or what can be held accountable to international norms and laws. Further, human rights, particularly the rights of survivors of landmine and cluster munition explosions, became central to the provisions in these treaties.
Research theme: Military & Security Law