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Requiem for Risk. Governing weapons circulation

Monday December 17, 2018, at 13:30
Room 24.019 (Ground floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building
Research seminar

Anna Stavrianakis (University of Sussex)

This article writes a requiem for risk as a mode of regulation. The governance of weapons circulation – explored here in the example of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen – illustrates the ways in which risk has been mobilised as a mode of domination and is thus inadequate as a means of accountability. I argue that a risk-based regulatory regime in the governance of the arms trade makes the limits of international humanitarian law (IHL) negotiable in three main ways: via systematic not-knowing about IHL violations; the mobilisation of the notion of accidental harm and practices of reputation management; and the articulation of the inherent temporality of risk, in ways that allow the state to argue that any risk to IHL is not clear and thus, there is no reason to halt arms exports. Risk is made not to matter in a regime of recklessness that mobilises non-knowledge in an active strategy of anti-epistemology.

Check all the forthcoming Research Seminars.

Anna Stavrianakis joined the University of Sussex in September 2006. Her main research interests are the arms trade, UK arms export policy, international arms transfer control, and militarism.

Her first book, Taking Aim at the Arms Trade. NGOs, Global Civil Society and the World Military Order (Zed Books, June 2010), analysed the way that NGOs such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, Saferworld and Campaign Against Arms Trade work for tigher controls on the arms trade. More recently, she has written about the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which sets common international standards for the regulation of arms transfers. 

She is the co-editor (with Jan Selby) of Militarism and International Relations: Political Economy, Security, Theory, published by Routledge (August 2012). She is also an Associate Editor at Security Dialogue, which is publishing a special issue on "Militarism and Security: dialogue, possibilities, limits". 

Anna did her first degree at Bristol University (BA Politics and German, 2000), her Masters at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (MScEcon Security Studies, 2001) and her PhD back at Bristol (Politics, 2007).