Mercenaries: strong norm, weak law

Percy, Sarah V. (2007) Mercenaries: strong norm, weak law. International Organization, 61 2: 367-397. doi:10.1017/S0020818307070130

Author Percy, Sarah V.
Title Mercenaries: strong norm, weak law
Journal name International Organization   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0020-8183
Publication date 2007-04-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S0020818307070130
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 61
Issue 2
Start page 367
End page 397
Total pages 31
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Abstract In this article I examine how a weak international law can be created despite the presence of a strong norm, and I use weak law to probe the relationship between social and legal norms. International law dealing with mercenaries is notoriously flawed. These flaws have been attributed to the idea that state interest (or lack of interest) led to the development of intentionally weak law. In fact, ineffective anti-mercenary law is the result of the influence of norms. A strong norm against mercenary use has led states to devise a definition that indicated what they found problematic about mercenaries, and differentiated mercenaries from other actors. This definition followed the anti-mercenary norm but created a number of loopholes, which were made worse by the fact that commitment to the norm was so strong that states were unable to make adjustments necessary to create more effective law. The development of the law against mercenaries was further undermined by the pressures of a competing norm. During the 1980s, creation of a UN Convention to deal with mercenaries was stymied by the fact that many states were seeking to protect the norm of state responsibility, and the conflict between this norm and the anti-mercenary norm delayed the Convention to such a degree it was superseded by events. Weak anti-mercenary law, created in the presence of a strong anti-mercenary norm, can demonstrate four things about the relationship between social and legal norms: that states advocate the creation of law because of what it is rather than what it does; that legal institutionalization is not necessarily good for the further development of a norm; that strong commitment to a norm can lead to the creation of weak law; and that social and legal norms might not differ because the latter is more effective
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Created: Thu, 25 Feb 2016, 14:20:41 EST by Bronwyn Clare Crook on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies