Students take on NGO perspective

June 25, 2015

Recently, students at Pace University provided recommendations for PAX on universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) following a semester-long project examining States’ progress in implementing the ban.

By Caitlin Boley (Intern at PAX New York Office)

The students’ recommendation came right in time for the Intersessional Meetings that were held in Geneva (Switzerland) this week. At this meeting, countries that have joined the Convention, States that have not yet done so, international organisations, and campaigners from all over the world gathered to discuss implementation of the CCM and how to get other states on board. PAX, a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, was in Geneva to encourage States to adhere to their obligations and to encourage States that still need to ratify or accede to the Convention to do so as soon as possible.

Context counts
The six states chosen for this project – Angola, Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, Iraq and Jordan – are at various stages of banning cluster bombs. While some have yet to ratify, others have already signed the treaty. Some States have even adopted the CCM and implemented the necessary national legislation. Furthermore, particular States, such as Cambodia, are heavily affected by the use of cluster munitions while others, like Canada, have never used them. Students agreed that the level of momentum could be better understood through the process of contextualization. These realizations are indispensable, as a more thorough understanding of the underlying factors allowed students to make more effective recommendations.

Honors student Priya Sakaria, who researched Cambodia’s progress, had these reflections to offer: “For Cambodia, the research process had much to do with its history, especially in regional contexts. Understanding their past, specifically their relatively recent history, was essential to understanding many of the statements they have made or justifications they have consistently offered for reluctance to ratify the convention. Cambodia, on the surface, seems like a country that would be confident in ratifying the convention because of the effects they have faced due to cluster munitions. However, after further analysis of their security as well as their economic/financial capabilities puts their hesitation in perspective, making it easier to develop an advocacy strategy with greater effectiveness.”

Political will crucial for progress
Students largely came to the conclusion, regardless of their case study’s level of progress, that political will was the foremost reason for developments (or lack thereof) in ratification and implementation, though the capabilities of the State also played a large contributing factor.  As previously mentioned, understanding a state’s reluctance to ratify the CCM allows NGOs to develop a much more effective strategy in encouraging States to ratify. Lindita Capric, a student who was assigned a case study on Iraq, found the process to be highly informative: “This project taught me a lot about what an international NGO’s role is in working towards disarmament policies. I found the experience extremely educational and enriching. I would definitely recommend this class and assignment to another student interested in truly understanding more about international politics.” 

Beyond Geneva
In addition to outreach at relevant CCM meetings, PAX supports the organization of universalization events such as the recent workshop for African States that was held at the UN in New York. The workshop was co-hosted by Costa Rica and Croatia, and co-organized by Cluster Munition Coalition members PAX and Norwegian People’s Aid.

Caitlin Boley is a student at Pace University, studying Political Science, Philosophy, and Peace & Justice Studies. She is currently interning at the PAX New York office.

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