Norm Development and Knowledge Creation in the World System - Protecting People, Intellectual Property and the Environment
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
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This thesis develops a theoretical model to explain the creation of international behavioural norms drawing on two literatures: Constructivism in International Relations and the Sociology of Knowledge. This theoretical model draws attention to the interplay between scientific knowledge and normative concerns in the process of norms creation, to the role of non-state actors in norm construction, as well as to the importance of states in normative negotiations. I have also sought to uncover different types of power that both states and non-state actors have employed and the tactics of bargaining and persuasion which prevail and lead to the successful creation of international norms. The proposed theoretical model is applied to three case-studies, which are the creation of the norm outlawing the use of torture, the norm protecting intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical industry, and the norm for the protection of the atmosphere from the effects of human activities to prevent or slow down global warming. The historical reconstruction of events leading up to the legalisation and operationalisation of these norms has revealed important similarities in the way that these norms were negotiated. There is a resemblance in the manner in which scientific knowledge and normative beliefs interacted. All three case-studies exposed the degree to which non-state actors – NGOs, scientific communities, advocacy organisations, religious groups, businesses, etc. – participated in the creation of international norms, and although this is not a new concept in itself, it is worth reconsidering its intensity and the role of these actors in world politics. My research into the development of these three international norms has also emphasised the need for a better understanding of the points of closure in scientific, normative, and political debates. I argue that the way in which closure is reached is directly relevant to the strength, effectiveness and authority of the norm created.