International Politics

, Volume 55, Issue 3–4, pp 421–440 | Cite as

Re-visioning morality and progress in the security domain: insights from humanitarian prohibition politics

  • Nik HynekEmail author
Original Article


This article offers a novel understanding and theorization of humanitarian disarmament regimes and their related prohibition politics. In doing so, it utilizes a power-analytical framework and puts in use four conceptions of power: productive, structural, institutional, and compulsory. Empirically, two potent humanitarian prohibition regimes that have been formed during the last two decades are examined. The ban of anti-personnel landmines (APLs) in 1997 marked a significant shift in humanitarian disarmament. Consequently, a humanitarian disarmament model emerged, consisting in bypassing permanent arms-control fora (“The Ottawa Process”). The ascent of the model to the arena traditionally dominated by power interests of major powers and ossified lowest-common denominator consensus was confirmed in 2008 when cluster munitions (CMs) were prohibited in a very similar fashion (“The Oslo Process”). The main contribution to the topic is the application of the power-analytical framework specifically developed to suit an analysis of formation and workings of global prohibition regimes, including heterarchy-of-power discussion of the relationship between states and non-state actors. Then, instead of the usual—and flawed at best—heroic discussions of victories of global civil society in relation to the establishment of regimes, rise of moral International Relations, and supposed progressivist teleology, a more complex picture with many contradictions, artefacts, and their layering inside and about those regimes looms large.


Prohibition regimes Power analysis Humanitarianism Disarmament Landmines Cluster munitions Revisionism Arms control Security institutionalisation Coalitions and alliances 



Nik Hynek gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Czech Science Foundation under the standard research grant no. GA16-02288S Anatomy of Revisionism and Its Impact on (Sub-)Regional Institutionalisations and Alliances.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Metropolitan University PraguePragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Charles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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