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Rhetorical Entrapment', Arguing, and Bargaining in International Negotiations for Weapons Prohibitions

Thursday March 4, 2010, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
By focusing on the negotiation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and drawing a background comparison with the process that led to the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, the paper examines some of the dynamics involved in international negotiations and the extent to which they were guided by the logic of appropriateness, arguing, or bargaining. Based on examination of state statements, interviews with state and NGO representatives participating in the negotiations, and first-hand observation of the negotiation process on cluster munitions, the paper argues that the ability to conclude a strong prohibition of those weapons in large part depended on the humanitarian framing of the problems and the strategic engineering of the negotiation process by the states that initiated it in cooperation with NGOs. The shifting of the negotiations to a stand-alone process in which only states committed to its humanitarian objective could participate amounted to “rhetorical entrapment” for those states that may not have been sincerely supportive of the negotiation goal and delimited the scope of legitimate arguments during the negotiations. The logics of appropriateness and consequences, and speech acts approximating pure arguing or bargaining were tightly interwoven during the negotiations and rhetorical action for the achievement of a normative end or as a means of pursuing underlying self-interests was commonly encountered, however, they were all encased within a larger normative framework guiding the communicative exchanges. Thus, rather than situating rhetorical action within the realm of rationalism, the paper argues that in these cases the logic of appropriateness subsumed the logic of consequences and strategic arguing resulted in persuasion over time.