NGOs as norm dealers: Norm-Diffusion in Conflict Management using the example of the ICRC

Originally published in October 2015kas_78555-1609-2-30_90

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the dynamics and the results of the norm diffusion practices occurring between the ICRC and non-state arms carriers in environments of conflict and fragile statehood. The paper aims to conceptually describe the methods used by the ICRC and to provide an answer regarding the difficulties and chances of success arising out of these interactions. The paper addresses the ICRC’s approach for integration and infers its factors for success. These factors are based on well-known socialisation research hypotheses, which are then put to the test in the field. The conclusions point to the ICRC’s image as a norms diffuser and highlight the potentials of its activities. Successful norm diffusion can, on the one hand, contribute to increasing the security of civilian populations in conflict areas by persuading non-state arms carriers to abstain from specific violent practices, such as for instance the use of land-mines and child-soldiers. On the other hand, successful norm diffusion may also provide the opportunity for compliance with other aspects of HR and open the door to a broader transformation of non-state arms carriers.