International Society and Norms: Understandings and Differences in Russian and Western Perspectives on Counter-terrorism

Russian Counter-Terrorism

International Society and Norms: Understandings and Differences in Russian and Western Perspectives on Counter-terrorism

Petya Hristova
Freie Universität Berlin

This is the second in our series of three working papers produced for our recent Annual Conference Student Webinar: '"Conceptual Conversations": Exploring Russian, European & American Understandings of Core Concepts Underpinning Russia-West Relations'. This second paper is based on collaborative research undertaken by Petya Hristova, Anatoly Mateiko, Hanna Notte and Reyhan Kalayci, all current post-graduates at the St Antony's College, University of Oxford and the Freie Universität Berlin. The University Consortium's Annual Conference was hosted by HSE from 30 September - 1 October 2016.

Norms, like peaceful conflict resolution or human rights, are defined as collective rules of appropriate behaviour. State interests depend on the developed identity and corresponding world views in the state. Only this attaches meaning to political and economic activity, legitimacy of institutions as well as interdependence with others.

However, it remains an open question how we recognise a norm when we see one. “We recognize norm-breaking behavior because it generates disapproval […] either because it produces praise, or, in the case of a highly internalized norm, because it is so taken for granted that it provokes no reaction whatsoever”. Finnemore and Sikkink (1998) argue that the behaviour of states and norms require a separate operationalisation. The aim is to show whether norms have an influence on the behaviour of actors. The researchers claim that rationality and norms are directly connected with/to each other. In order to answer the posed question, they developed a norm cycle,  separating domestic and international norms from each other. Domestic norms play an enormous role in building international norms. They compare this with Putnam’s two-level game and declare it in their paper as a two-level norm game. The authors illustrate the influence of norms with a three stage model which they call life cycle of norms.

The first stage is norm emergence, the second stage is norm cascade and the third stage is internalisation (see table 1). The first two stages are divided by a threshold (tipping point). Norms are not just coincidence but they “are actively built by agents having strong notions about appropriate or desirable behavior in their community. Norm entrepreneurs are required in order to spread norms. Only after the persuasion of numerous actors it is possible to reach the threshold (tipping point). A critical mass has to emerge that is in favour of the norm. Thereby, it is possible to redefine appropriate behaviour. The last stage would be the acceptance of the norm at the international level. After internalisation, the international actors take the norm for granted...

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