Post-Grant Reports


The Power and Peril of Humanitarianism in International Politics

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International Relations | Peace and Conflict Studies


This collaborative research focused on three separate projects.

“Has the Mine Ban Treaty Failed? The Power of Norms and the Norms of Power”

Scholars and practitioners alike have hailed the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines (formally, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) as a landmark accomplishment. After efforts to negotiate a ban in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons failed, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a few states pressed to negotiate a treaty outside the United Nations system. Advocates pursued this approach as a way to create international law, and a new norm, to confront states opposing a ban. Many scholars use this case to demonstrate the power of NGOs and how a "new diplomacy" can promote normative change, even in the face of great power opposition. However, while some states ended APL (anti-personnel landmine) use, production, or export, the major users/producers did not, leaving us with the question: has the Mine Ban Treaty failed? This paper reconsiders the extent to which the conventional wisdom regarding the Mine Ban Treaty holds true by analyzing the norms cleavages both inside and outside the institution. By conducting an empirical analysis of the implementation of the treaty, this paper suggests that while the treaty continues to represent an important accomplishment, it yields a very different set of lessons than we have been led to believe.

“Should Immunity Mean Impunity? The Accountability of the United Nations Peacekeepers”

Shortly preceded by the devastating 2010 earthquake, the world’s largest cholera epidemic broke out on the island of Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 8,500 and continuing to afflict more than 685,000 Haitians. Scientific analysis undeniably traced the cholera strain to the improper disposal of waste and negligent screening standards of United Nations Nepalese Peacekeeping troops, garnering calls for the United Nations to take responsibility and provide reparations for the outbreak. Despite legal attempts on behalf of victims, the Peacekeeping troops and the United Nations as a whole have escaped accountability for their actions. This paper comprehensively evaluates the accountability literature to show that the immunity clause directly contradicts the humanitarian norms and international laws the UN was created to uphold, creating a disparity between the intentions of the institution and the actions that result. The immunity clause provided within the charter of the United Nations has shaped an institutional culture of negligence and impunity, one in which the lack of legal recourse for victims allows the UN to shirk basic responsibilities towards host populations and sets a precedent for continuing abuses in future peacekeeping missions. After discussing the variety of potential avenues for justice, this paper ultimately demands the reform of the immunity clause with the simultaneous enforcement of SOFAs (status of forces agreements) in order to reconcile peacekeeping actions with international law and to attain justice for the people of Haiti.

Reassessing Success: Short-term Benefits vs. Long-term Damage of the Mine Ban Treaty

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention) has been widely heralded as a success, not only because of its unique diplomatic origins, but also because of its broad membership and high compliance rates. However, compliance cannot always be equated with effectiveness, proven by evidence of the unintended consequences of the treaty, such as the provisions regarding demining. This paper questions whether the long-term effects caused by the economic burden of landmine removal and the resulting environmental damage to the land may cause more harm in the long-run than humanitarian benefits in the short-run. Ultimately I find that communities who allow landmines to reach the end of their life expectancy may be able to convert the land for agricultural purposes, which would eliminate the threat to long-term environmental damage and the economic burden placed on developing countries.


This research was conducted as part of a Linfield College Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Grant in 2013, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Student collaborators were J. Christian Kessler, Megan Schwab, and Whitney Brittingham.

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