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Chapter 10

POLI 244 - WP Text Ch. 10 Transnational Networks

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 244
Stephen Saideman

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Transnational Networks
Definition: sets of constituent actors engaged in voluntary, reciprocal interactions
and exchange across national borders.
Two main types:
1) Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs) – bringing political and social
change through social mobilization, changes in social norms, providing
information, and political pressure on governments
Ex. International Campaign to Ban Landmines
2) Transnational Terrorist Networks – similar to TANs in aspirations for
political/social change, but different in their preference for violence as the
bargaining or coercive means to bring about change
comprised of individuals and NGOs
in pursuit of normative objectives such as human rights, the environment,
economic/social justice, democracy, women's rights and abortion rights
dramatic growth over last 50 years, especially during 1990s
power of ideas to alter perceived interests and to change behaviour at the
individual and state levels
this is done through several methods:
1) Dissemination of knowledge
Spread of information may change interests of actors (ie. Spread of climate
change information by Greenpeace.) However, just information may not be
enough, as counter-forces can also mobilize against these TANs (tobacco lobby
mobilizing against scientific knowledge on the adverse effects of tobacco)
2) Promotion of new norms
Norms affect behaviour by raising the costs of inappropriate actions.
One function of TANs is to encourage normative behaviour and spread norms
across national borders.
Three stage norms life cycle:
A: norms entrepreneurs actively work to convince critical mass of other individuals
to embrace their beliefs (ie norm of medical personnel and wounded soldiers be

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treated as neutral noncombatants rooted in crusade by Henry Dumont, founder of
Red Cross) Activists “win” by framing principles they want to promote so that they
connect to principles that are already accepted in a community.
Example: women's rights movements caught between competing frames of
gender equality, improvement of the life of women, general human rights, etc,
until solidied around single frame of ending violence against women.
FGM movement rebranded practise from female circumcision to female genital
B: “Norms cascade” when number of adherents passes a tipping point beyond
which the idea gains sufficient support that it becomes a nearly universal
standard of behaviour to which others can be held accountable. This tipping point
is often hard to identify in advance; determined not only by number of actors but
also by their leadership/visibility.
This conformity to the new norm may be further established through coercion (ie
economic sanctions to back human rights norms) or through socialization (ie
states adopting new behaviours because that's what “good” states do.)
Example: although the norm of national election monitoring was virtually
unknown before 1978, all democratizing states nowadays invite other
governments or NGOs to monitor their first elections
C: Norms are internalized or are so widely accepted that they are “taken-for-
granted”, making conformity almost automatic.
Previously, norms raise the costs of engaging in behaviours which violated the
norm. However, once it is internalized, the norms become an inhibiting factor in
and of itself, leading to a reordering of interests.
Ex. norms against slavery; perhaps the nuclear taboo and the Geneva
3) Putting Pressure on States
TANs exert leverage by calling attention to violations by states of held norms – a
tactic known as naming and shaming. The reputation of a country may have
intrinsic value, or value for facilitating cooperation with other countries. Naming
and shaming challenges this good, and forces states to adapt behaviour to
maintain it.
TANs can also invoke the coercive power of other states. Boomerang model:
NGOs in one state are able to activate transnational linkages with NGOs in other
states, then bring pressure from these secondary states back on their own
governments. This process is most likely to be effective when NGOs are blocked
from influencing their own governments, such as in nondemocratic regimes; this

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forces NGOs to activate transnational network, with responses usually from
democratic states, which are more vulnerable to the pressures exerted by the
secondary NGOs within their nation.
Ex. Anti-apartheid movement: South African NGOs moved western democracies
against their gov.
4) Facilitating Cooperation
Provision of information before final agreement is reached (endorsement) and
afterwards (monitoring).
TANs as Endorsers
TANs track negotiations of international agreements, study the final text, and then
endorse or reject its provisions. This information may be used by legislators or
electorates, who, by consulting TANs which share their preferences and are
trustworthy, will be better informed to make a decision on the agreement.
Ex. A legislator, in determining whether an environmental treaty merits support,
may not need to closely study the text, but can see whether a trustworthy TAN
has endorsed the agreement. A legislator in favour of regulations will look for
endorsements by Sierra Club, Greenpece, etc.
These endorsements are inexpensive, and done by actors widely-seen to be
principled. In this way, TANs help to overcome the problem of
uncertainty/misinformation in theories of mutual cooperation.
TANs as Monitors
By revealing information about compliance after an agreement is ratified, TANs
allow states to have greater confidence that future agreements will be honoured.
Agreements where compliance is determined by self-reporting are often weak
(environmental treaties on emissions reduction), as states that are incentivized to
cheat will also be incentivized to lie about their cheating; therefore, this
mechanism is only strong if its verifiable by another.
Other agreements have direct monitoring by other states (arms control
agreements between US and USSR.) Yet, direct monitoring is quite expensive, and
not perfect.
Finally, states can monitor indirectly by listening to the testimony of trustworthy
third parties such as TANs. When they identify violations of international
agreements, they can alert states to them. This makes monitoring less expensive
to states and more efficient than alternatives.
Ex. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
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