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Normative Shifts Within International Relations

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Part of the Springer Series in Transitional Justice book series (SSTJ,volume 7)


Previous redress and reparation movements established a normative foundation upon which subsequent movements would be built. This foundation would be utilized as a reference point for the types and forms of redress and reparation that victims could potentially achieve. Of the three inter-related norms discussed in previous chapters—prohibition of atrocities, individual accountability, and redress and reparation—each evolved during the Cold War; yet, the norms were also constrained by bipolar politics. Chapter 5 will provide context on how redress and reparation transitioned from a West German response to the Holocaust to an international phenomena. In addition, changing norms regarding race and gender is also explored.

The emergence of the Cold War altered the political opportunity structures available to norm entrepreneurs making it extremely difficult to obtain international support for accountability, let alone redress and reparation. During the Cold War, Superpower tensions won primacy; however, the rise of transitional justice in the 1980s created a political space in which accountability norms and redress and reparation norms could be developed. As the Cold War thawed the idea of coming to terms with the past truly began to flourish and expand outside of the context of defeated nations or regime change. This emerging concept of reparation politics was based not on coercion, but on negotiated agreements between the state and previously victimized individuals.


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  1. 1.

    It is important to note that normative entrepreneurs had been working on these trends before World War II; however, it was not until after the Holocaust that these norms emerged, in part due to the international community being shocked enough to mobilize political will.

  2. 2.

    Sikkink (2011, p. 5). In addition, Sikkink argues that the “justice cascade means that there has been a shift in the legitimacy of the norm of individual criminal accountability for human right violations and an increase in criminal prosecutions on behalf of that norm.”

  3. 3.

    Berg and Schaefer (2009, p. 4).

  4. 4.


  5. 5.

    Keylor (2001, p. 251).

  6. 6.

    Protocol of the Proceedings of the Crimea Conference (1947, p. 411).

  7. 7.

    White (1950, pp. 105–109).

  8. 8.

    Chamberlin (1950, p. 80).

  9. 9.


  10. 10.

    Keylor (2001, p. 252)

  11. 11.

    The term Great Powers has, since the Concert of Europe in 1815, been utilized to refer to the major powers of the international system. As such, who is included and excluded from this term changes. John Mearsheimer argues that Great Powers are determined largely by their military size. A great power, thus, has “sufficient military assets to put up a serious fight in an all-out conventional war against the most powerful state in the world” and in today’s age, nuclear weapons. Prior to World War II, Great Powers would have included the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan and the United States (as demonstrated by the makeup of the League of Nations Council). Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary were former Great Powers and would eventually regain this status. Mearsheimer (2001, p. 5).

  12. 12.

    Chamberlin (1950, p. 79).

  13. 13.

    Ibid. p. 86.

  14. 14.

    United Nations (2013d).

  15. 15.

    Meisler (1995, p. 23).

  16. 16.

    Rifkind (2001, p. iii).

  17. 17.

    Korey (2001, pp. 9–91).

  18. 18.

    United Nations (2013a).

  19. 19.

    Bassiouni (2003, p. xi).

  20. 20.

    Finnemore and Sikkink (1998, p. 896).

  21. 21.

    Ellickson (2001, p. 44).

  22. 22.

    Maogoto (2003, p. 122).

  23. 23.

    Hayner (2002, p. 52).

  24. 24.

    Sikkink (2011, pp. 31, 33).

  25. 25.

    Ibid. p. 34.

  26. 26.

    Ibid. p. 34.

  27. 27.

    Finnemore and Sikkink (1998, p. 902).

  28. 28.

    As tipping points are indicators of diffusion, it is difficult to determine exactly when norms are “tipped.” I have chosen 1988, because I have argued it was the redress and reparation provided by a Superpower that indicated a change in international society. I could see the potential in arguing that 1989 and the work by the United Nations caused the tipping point, or even the 2005 resolution. Debate over which actions and countries were the most influential would be interesting; however, it would also detract from the main argument. For the purpose of this work, what is important is that a tipping point has occurred, and we are currently in a period of normative cascade. Evidence of this can be seen in the proliferation of RRMs, as displayed in Appendix Five.

  29. 29.

    United Nations Economic and Social Council (1989).

  30. 30.

    van Boven (2005).

  31. 31.

    Shelton (2005, pp. 15–16).

  32. 32.

    Ibid, pp. 17–18

  33. 33.

    States in bold have associated redress and reparation movements, apologies are not included in this list. See Appendix Five for details. United Nations Economic and Social Council (2005).

  34. 34.


  35. 35.

    Shelton (2005, p. 18.)

  36. 36.

    Quoted in Shelton (2005, p. 18).

  37. 37.

    Sikkink (2011, pp. 16–17).

  38. 38.

    United Nations (2013b).

  39. 39.

    United Nations (2013c).

  40. 40.

    United Nations Treaty Collection (2013a).

  41. 41.

    See Staub (1989).

  42. 42.

    King Jr. (1960).

  43. 43.

    United Nations Treaty Collection (2013b).

  44. 44.

    Grotius (2012; Book 3, Chapter 4, Article 19).

  45. 45.

    Hallett (2009, p. 184); Inal (2013, pp. 50–60).

  46. 46.

    Inal (2013, pp. 61–63).

  47. 47.

    Ibid, p. 117.

  48. 48.

    Yoshimi (2000, p. 155). Exceptions were made for women who were already engaged in prostitution and then these women would be hired and not enslaved or forced in some way.

  49. 49.

    See Hallett (2009).

  50. 50.

    International humanitarian law—treaties and documents (2013).

  51. 51.

    Inal gives several historical examples up to modern times where soldiers engaged in widespread rape, in summary: “Crusaders raped women as they marched to Constantinople in 1096 and 1204; German troops raped Belgian women in World War I; Russian troops raped German women and Japanese troops raped Chinese women in World War II; Pakistani soldiers raped Bangladeshi women in 1971; and American soldiers raped Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War.” Inal (2013, p. 4).

  52. 52.

    Ibid. pp. 110–112.

  53. 53.

    Parker and Chew (1994).

  54. 54.

    International humanitarian law—treaties and documents (2013).

  55. 55.

    Inal (2013, p. 93).

  56. 56.

    Ibid. pp. 125–126.

  57. 57.

    Bassiouni (2003, p. xi).

  58. 58.

    Berg and Schaefer (2009).

  59. 59.

    Sikkink (2011, p. 22–23).

  60. 60.

    Ibid. p. 23.

  61. 61.

    Ibid. p. 24.

  62. 62.

    Brooks (1999, p. 1).


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Wolfe, S. (2014). Normative Shifts Within International Relations. In: The Politics of Reparations and Apologies. Springer Series in Transitional Justice, vol 7. Springer, New York, NY.

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