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"Lost" Causes

"Lost" Causes: Agenda Vetting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security

Charli Carpenter
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Cornell University Press
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  • Book Info
    "Lost" Causes
    Book Description:

    Why do some issues and threats, diseases, weapons, human rights abuses, vulnerable populations, get more global policy attention than others? How do global activist networks decide the particular causes for which they advocate among the many problems in need of solutions? According to Charli Carpenter, the answer lies in the politics of global issue networks themselves. Building on surveys, focus groups, and analyses of issue network websites, Carpenter concludes that network access has a direct relation to influence over how issues are ranked. Advocacy elites in nongovernmental and transnational organizations judge candidate issues not just on their merit but on how the issues connect to specific organizations, individuals, and even other issues.

    In "Lost" Causes, Carpenter uses three case studies of emerging campaigns to show these dynamics at work: banning infant male circumcision; compensating the wartime killing and maiming of civilians; and prohibiting the deployment of fully autonomous weapons (so-called killer robots). The fate of each of these campaigns was determined not just by the persistence and hard work of entrepreneurs but by advocacy elites' perception of the issues' network ties. Combining sweeping analytical argument with compelling narrative, Carpenter reveals how the global human security agenda is determined.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-7036-3
    Subjects: Law, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1 Agenda Vetting and Agenda Setting in Global Governance
    (pp. 1-18)

    In April 2013, outside the steps of Parliament in London, a group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) launched a new campaign to ban the use of fully autonomous weapons. Concern over this issue had been raised since 2004 by political entrepreneurs from the academic community, but their calls for an anti-“killer-robot” norm had been virtually ignored by the advocacy community for over seven years. When asked about the issue in 2009, many advocacy elites in mainstream humanitarian disarmament organizations expressed bemusement. They pointed out that there were far more serious threats to human security in conflict zones, and that these weapons...

  6. 2 Networks, Centrality, and Global Issue Creation
    (pp. 19-37)

    Why do some global social problems become prominent “issues” around which advocacy networks campaign while others get neglected? Standard answers to this question overemphasize factors exogenous to the structure of advocacy networks themselves. Issue creation is usually explained by the attributes, behavior, and interests of specific agents (entrepreneurs or “gatekeepers”) or by factors external to and beyond the control of the activist networks (the intrinsic nature of issues, of targets of influence, or of the broader political environment).¹ Much less attention has been paid to how the internal structural relations within the networks themselves enable or foreclose advocacy around specific...

  7. 3 A Network Theory of Advocacy “Gatekeeper” Decision Making
    (pp. 38-54)

    So far I have argued that privileged network positions constitute certain organizations as authorities within issue networks; and that such transnational advocacy elites in these hubs govern the global advocacy agenda. But what do these authorities in global policy networks want? Why do they gravitate toward certain issues while exercising agenda denial around others? What do savvy issue entrepreneurs need to know about their preference structure in order to have the best possible chance of “selling” their cause in the global arena?

    Although very few studies address this question explicitly, several explanations are implicit in the literature. One relates to...

  8. 4 “You Harm, You Help”: Pitching Collateral Damage Control to Human Security Gatekeepers
    (pp. 55-87)

    In times of war, civilians are dismembered, burned to death, crushed, asphyxiated, eviscerated, buried alive, and shot. They witness the deaths or mutilation of close family members and friends. Their homes are destroyed; they become refugees, and in their displacement they become vulnerable to attack, robbery, rape, and death from exposure and malnutrition.¹

    And much of this is perfectly legal—so long as governments inflict such harms by accident, instead of deliberately; so long as they are incidental to some lawful objective, rather than directed at civilians.² Today, nothing in the voluminous international law of armed conflict holds warring parties...

  9. 5 From “Stop the Robot Wars!” to “Ban Killer Robots”: Pitching “Autonomous Weapons” to Humanitarian Disarmament Elites
    (pp. 88-121)

    Warfare is increasingly carried out by machines. Automated systems already routinely defuse explosives, conduct reconnaissance, serve as mechanical beasts of burden over inhospitable terrain, and assist medics, but militaries worldwide are increasingly developing and deploying robots with the capacity to deploy lethal force as well.¹ Although many members of the U.S. security establishment have argued for years that a human will always remain “in the loop” when making the decision to kill human beings, in fact both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy have circulated research and solicitations for proposals on fully autonomous weapons systems (AWS) as early as 2005.²...

  10. 6 “His Body, His Choice”: Pitching Infant Male Circumcision to Health and Human Rights Gatekeepers
    (pp. 122-147)

    The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of infant boys are circumcised annually worldwide, often without anesthetic and primarily for cultural reasons.¹ Previously justified on social or medical grounds, routine circumcision of children is not now recommended by medical practitioners.² However, neither have medical associations gone so far as to recommendprohibitingthe practice, which continues in the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, much of the Muslim Middle East and Central Asia, and among some immigrant populations in Europe.³ Circumcision is also on the rise in Africa, where it has become the subject of attention since...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 148-154)

    I have made two arguments about the importance of intranetwork relations in explaining variation in the global advocacy agenda. One is a causal argument about the significance of issue adoption by particular actors positioned to ignite a contagion effect within global civil society. I have shown that the causal impact of their issue adoption decisions is a function of their structurally central location within networks. The second is a constitutive argument about how those actors understand their preferences. I have shown that all things being equal, advocacy “gatekeepers” also judge the merit and timing of issue adoption based on intranetwork...

  12. Appendix Studying Transnational Spaces A Multimethod Approach
    (pp. 155-178)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 179-206)
  14. References
    (pp. 207-220)
  15. Index
    (pp. 221-234)
  16. Plates
    (pp. None)