Dangerous Trade

Dangerous Trade: Arms Exports, Human Rights, and International Reputation

Jennifer L. Erickson
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/eric17096
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  • Book Info
    Dangerous Trade
    Book Description:

    The United Nations's groundbreaking Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which went into effect in 2014, sets legally binding standards to regulate global arms exports and reflects the growing concerns toward the significant role that small and major conventional arms play in perpetuating human rights violations, conflict, and societal instability worldwide. Many countries that once staunchly opposed shared export controls and their perceived threat to political and economic autonomy are now beginning to embrace numerous agreements, such as the ATT and the EU Code of Conduct.

    Jennifer L. Erickson explores the reasons top arms-exporting democracies have put aside past sovereignty, security, and economic worries in favor of humanitarian arms transfer controls, and she follows the early effects of this about-face on export practice. She begins with a brief history of failed arms export control initiatives and then tracks arms transfer trends over time. Pinpointing the normative shifts in the 1990s that put humanitarian arms control on the table, she reveals that these states committed to these policies out of concern for their international reputations. She also highlights how arms trade scandals threaten domestic reputations and thus help improve compliance. Using statistical data and interviews conducted in France, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Erickson challenges existing IR theories of state behavior while providing insight into the role of reputation as a social mechanism and the importance of government transparency and accountability in generating compliance with new norms and rules.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53903-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. 1. Introduction and Overview
    (pp. 1-15)

    In April 2008, China attempted to make a routine delivery of ammunition and explosives worth $1.245 million to Zimbabwe by way of South Africa. What followed was anything but routine. The deal sparked an international incident and, in turn, highlighted the often conflicting security and humanitarian imperatives of the contemporary arms trade. A South African investigative news magazine exposed “the ship of shame,” provoking media attention and criticism from all corners of the globe. Because the South African government had approved the shipment for transport from the port of Durban, it too came under fire for helping to arm the...

  6. 2. “Responsible” Arms Transfer Policy and the Politics of Social Reputation
    (pp. 16-43)

    Major conventional arms–exporting states now widely support the Arms Trade Treaty and other multilateral arms export initiatives. Why they have done so—in the absence of material gain or norm socialization—not only presents an important empirical puzzle but also addresses several enduring questions for IR theory: Why do states commit to international agreements, especially those that may impose high implementation costs without material benefits in return? What explains norm adoption by “critical” but skeptical states? How does social change take place in the international system? This chapter outlines a theoretical argument about social reputation in international and domestic...

  7. 3. History and Contemporary Trends in Conventional Arms Export Controls
    (pp. 44-72)

    States’ support for the Arms Trade Treaty and “responsible” arms export controls belies long-standing expectations. Conventional weapons play a vital role in national and international security and present a hard case for international commitment. Until the late 1990s, conventional arms sales remained the prerogative of national foreign and economic policy. Whether arms were used to influence allies or to support domestic economic interests, recipients’ human rights were not considered, conflict was a concern for only a handful of suppliers,¹ and material interests dominated export decision making. For the most part, states pushed away multilateral efforts to impose controls on major...

  8. 4. Explaining Commitment: INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION AND “RESPONSIBLE” ARMS TRANSFER POLICY
    (pp. 73-105)

    When states gathered at the July 2001 United Nations small arms conference, they anticipated neither an easy solution to the problem of regulating the global small arms market nor the widespread backing the initiative would receive. As chapter 3 shows, political and economic obstacles had always defeated multilateral conventional arms controls in the past, and practice is slow to change. Even so, organizers hoped to build on antilandmine momentum and other developments in the 1990s to negotiate a treaty covering legal and illicit small arms sales. Among the major democratic exporters, support at the 2001 conference was expected. The EU...

  9. 5. Explaining Compliance: DOMESTIC REPUTATION AND ARMS TRADE SCANDAL
    (pp. 106-138)

    As states began to ramp up support for humanitarian arms control policy in the late 1990s, arms trade practice was emerging from its historic secrecy. In some cases, revelations of past export behavior had damaging domestic consequences. In Argentina, for example, scandal broke in 1995 with reports of a series of secret deals sending thousands of tons of arms and ammunition shipments to Croatia and Ecuador between 1991 and 1995 (Deutsche Presse-Agentur 1995).¹ It took six years to formally charge former president Carlos Menem in 2001 with authorizing the sales in violation of a UN embargo and a regional peace...

  10. 6. Conclusions and Implications
    (pp. 139-156)

    Questions and controversies about the supply of weapons to Syria have been at the heart of debates about the appropriate and prudent international response to its conflict since 2011. Russian arms transfers to the regime have been widely condemned, but arms embargo proponents failed to neutralize Russian and Chinese opposition at the UN. As the conflict dragged on, the debate in the United States and Europe shifted from embargoing arms transfers to supplying rebel groups. In 2013, the United States announced its intention to arm Syrian rebels, and the EU let its embargo to Syria lapse, enabling it to do...

  11. Appendix A. MULTILATERAL CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL IN THE TWENTIETH AND TWENTY-FIRST CENTURIES
    (pp. 157-162)
  12. Appendix B. DATA SOURCES AND CODING
    (pp. 163-172)
  13. Appendix C. FULL STATISTICAL RESULTS
    (pp. 173-178)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 179-212)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 213-256)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 257-270)