Salience and the emergence of international norms : napalm and cluster munitions in the inhumane weapons convention
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Review of international studies, 2018, 23 p.
This article theorises salience – defined as the amount of attention granted to an issue – as an explanatory factor for the emergence and non-emergence of norms, and shows how salience affects existing explanations such as issue adoption by norm entrepreneurs, mobilisation, social pressure, and framing. The relevance of salience is demonstrated by exploring the question of why the norm against incendiary weapons was adopted in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1980, and why the norm against cluster munitions was not, even though both weapons were deemed particularly inhumane. Drawing on secondary sources and on original data from public and institutional discourses, I study the influence of salience on those norms in the period of 1945–80. The results demonstrate that and how the discrepancy in salience of the napalm and the cluster munitions issues mattered for the outcomes of the two norm-setting processes.
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