Against small arms: An analysis of an international network

Arend Andre Holtslag, Florida International University


Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) proliferation was undertaken by the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as the next important issue in international relations after the success of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). This dissertation focuses on the reasons why the issue of SALW resulted in an Action Program rather than an international convention. Thus, this result was considered as unsuccessful by the advocates of regulating the illicit trade in SALW. The study provides a social movement theoretical approach, using framing, political opportunity and network analysis to explain why the advocates of regulating the illicit trade in SALW did no succeed in their goals. The UN is taken as the arena in which NGOs, States and International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) discussed the illicit trade in SALW. The findings of the study indicate that the political opportunity for the issue of SALW was not ideal. The network of NGOs, States and IGOs was not strong. The NGOs advocating regulation of SALW were divided over the approach of the issue and were part of different coalitions with differing objectives. Despite initial widespread interest among States, only a couple of States were fully committed to the issue till the end. The regional IGOs approached the issue based on their regional priorities and were less interested in an international covenant. The advocates of regulating illicit trade in SALW attempted to frame SALW as a humanitarian issue rather than as a security issue. Thus they were not able to use frame alignment to convince states to treat SALW as a humanitarian issue. In conclusion it can be said that all three items, framing, political opportunity and the network, play a role in the lack of success of advocates for regulating the illicit trade in SALW.

Subject Area

International law|International relations|Political science|Public administration

Recommended Citation

Holtslag, Arend Andre, "Against small arms: An analysis of an international network" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3151973.