Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors

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Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors

The Erosion of Norms in International Law

9781803920726 Edward Elgar Publishing
Hannah Kiel, formerly Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Publication Date: May 2024 ISBN: 978 1 80392 072 6 Extent: c 308 pp
This insightful book analyses the issue of norm erosion in international law by examining arms transfers to non-state actors. Balancing empirical research with legal theory, the author dissects recent case studies, tracing individual changes in norms against a background of systemic transformation.

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This insightful book analyses the issue of norm erosion in international law by examining arms transfers to non-state actors. Balancing empirical research with legal theory, the author dissects recent case studies, tracing individual changes in norms against a background of systemic transformation.

Arms Transfers to Non-State Actors follows changes in the prohibition of arms transfers to non-state actors since the pivotal International Court of Justice''s Nicaragua ruling in 1986. Hannah Kiel critically discusses the legal developments through relevant case studies, including Abkhazia, Bosnia, Congo, Eastern Ukraine, Kosovo, Libya, Northern Iraq, South Ossetia, Syria and Yemen. Adopting a customary law perspective while also placing the narratives of states in the context of international structural changes, Kiel emphasises the interplay between state practice and the strengthening of a human rights-based paradigm. Kiel ultimately shows that changes in norms at the individual level indicate a larger transformation in the international order, and while the arming of non-state actors remains formally illegal, the prohibition of this practice is informally eroding.

Interdisciplinary in scope, this book provides valuable insights for scholars and researchers of public international law, human rights, international humanitarian law, and international relations. It is also of great benefit to human rights lawyers, policymakers, and diplomats.
Critical Acclaim
‘Is transferring arms to a non-state actor fighting against its government contrary to international law? Hannah Kiel provides a penetrating analysis of the gradual erosion of the norm prohibiting such transfers, from the ICJ’s original statement of the prohibition in the Nicaragua Case, through the wars in the former Yugoslavia, to the more recent War on Terror and the arming of NSAs in Syria. In so doing, she importantly distinguishes between formal and informal norm change and focuses on how deeper structural changes in international law and international order facilitate norm erosion. This timely book will interest a broad audience of lawyers, international relations scholars and policymakers seeking to understand the interaction between state language and practice, on the one hand, and core legal regimes related to sovereignty, human rights, and the use of force on the other.’
– Jennifer Welsh, McGill University, Canada

‘There has recently been much push to arm “meritorious” non-state actors. But have all the implications been thought out carefully? Hannah Kiel reminds us powerfully of the dangers inherent in liberalizing weapons transfers – any transfer, even for humanitarian purposes. This book arrives at the right time, a time of profound doubt about whether the rule of prohibition of the use of force and intervention in the affairs of other states can be maintained, even as the rules are being eroded “by a thousand cuts.” It will be required reading for those interested in arms transfers but also all those keen on the power of law to constrain violence.’
– Frédéric Mégret, McGill University, Canada

‘Dr Kiel offers a fascinating, finely nuanced reflection on state practice regarding one of the most important features of recent armed conflicts. International lawyers and international relations scholars will greatly enjoy this impressive, skillfully composed work and decision makers can only be encouraged to take a close look at its findings.’
– Claus Kreß, University of Cologne, Germany

‘Dr Kiel’s thoughtful analysis of the international norm prohibiting arms transfers to non-state actors illuminates the trends in state practice over the past three decades. The wealth of detail in the case studies provides highly valuable material for scholars and diplomats alike.’
– Stuart Casey-Maslen, University of Pretoria, South Africa
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