A theoretical examination of disarming states: NGOs and anti-personnel landmines


When the ICBL was founded in 1991, every state opposed a landmine ban. Less than seven years later, the Mine Ban Treaty was signed by 122 nations marking the first time that the majority of the world's nations agreed to a ban weapon that has been in widespread use. This article examines the NGO role in creating and developing the international norm banning landmines through the perspectives of the three major theories of international relations: neo-realism, neo-liberalism, and constructivism. While neo-realism and neo-liberalism can explain why states signed the treaty, they cannot explain how the landmine ban norm came about in the first place. A constructivist approach provides a superior explanation in that it accounts for discourse among a variety of international actors, including individuals and NGOs. The article's broader significance for the study of international politics is that it may help predict the success or failure of current NGO efforts to address other security issues, such as banning child soldiers, ratifying the international criminal court and restricting the use of small arms and light weapons.


Political Science

Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

International Politics