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International norms help explain how particular institutional settings emerge and function.[32] In a world of global journalism, instant communications, and transnational human rights networks, internal wars are subject to intense international scrutiny.[33] Nowhere is this more true

than in Bosnia and Palestine, where the conflicts were subjected to systematic international intervention and mediation. Serbian and Israeli decision makers constantly sought to shape, respond to, and evade global scrutiny, making international forces an integral part of our story.

There has been an explosion of transnational norm making and activism in relation to a broad array of issues such as women's rights, immigration, and human rights.[34] This trend is being driven by intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank, as well as nongovernmental organizations such as Transparency International, Greenpeace, and Human Rights Watch. Studies show that as the density of international norms and networks grows, states feel compelled to at least try to demonstrate to global audiences that they are modern, civilized, and efficient, adopting approved global rules and models of action.[35] Many of these global norms have been so internalized by state agents that they pass without notice, becoming constitutive of state action.[36] Others, including human rights, are often less thoroughly internalized, serving only as externally imposed constraints on policy.

In April 1992, the sovereignty norm helped create a Bosnian frontier because Western powers chose to recognize the Bosnian republic's borders as sovereign, forcing Serbia to officially disengage. This severed Bosnia from Serbia's formal control (through the Yugoslav federation), promoting frontier-like conditions. In 1988, conversely, Palestinian demands for independence were rebuffed by the same powers. Instead, Western powers applied the norm of human rights to the West Bank and Gaza, promoting Israel's use of ethnic policing. Greater Western support for Bosnian sovereignty, ironically, helped prepare the ground for more intense Serbian despotism.

Human Rights

The treaties, norms, and conventions surrounding the notion of human rights increasingly play an important role in global affairs, and states are under more pressure than ever before to appear respectful of their populations' dignity and rights.[37] In a sense, human rights norms represent the codification and dissemination of the rules and regulations produced by infrastructural power. Even if states do not actually wield infrastructural control over a given area, they feel pressured to use policing and law enforcement tactics, since that is what human rights norms require. Increased global human rights pressures are evident in the global media's

use of the term. Between 1982 and 1994, for example, the Reuters World Service registered a 500 percent increase in stories with the words "human rights," while the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) registered a 600 percent increase. Other agencies, such as China's Xinhua's press service, witnessed even more dramatic growth.[38] The number of international nongovernmental organizations dealing with human rights, moreover, is also on the increase. From only 33 such international groups in 1953, the numbers rose to 79 in 1983, and 168 a decade later.[39]

These changes are reconfiguring the global normative environment, with important consequences for smaller but significant regional powers such as Serbia or Israel.[40] Forced into a subordinate position vis-à-vis global (but often Western-dominated) rule makers, regional and local powers are obliged to take human rights into consideration.[41] Semidemocracies such as Serbia, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, and Indonesia also have vocal human rights organizations of their own, lending global norms even greater domestic resonance. Local and global human rights activists often collaborate, infusing one another with information, resources, and legitimacy.[42] In these cases, global human rights norms and norms of domestic infrastructural power are mutually reinforcing. These two sources of restraint in heavily institutionalized settings—domestic infrastructural power and international human rights norms—are analytically distinct but mutually reinforcing.


Sovereignty, a second and more established global norm, is also highly relevant to our story. Sovereignty divides territory into exclusive chunks of property, affecting styles of state violence in contradictory ways.[43] In our two cases, sovereignty helped trigger violence by providing Serbian and Jewish nationalists with powerful grievances. Since both countries' internationally recognized borders excluded coveted lands, nationalists in each felt duty bound to change their country's boundaries. In both cases, moreover, frustrated sovereignty claims provided incentives for ethnic cleansing. Some Serbian nationalists believed their claim over Bosnia would be bolstered by removal of the non-Serb population, while some Jewish Zionists held similar views regarding Palestine. Thus in one important sense, sovereignty served as a catalyst for Serbian and Israeli violence.

At the same time, sovereignty constrained repression by enhancing each state's infrastructural power in contested areas, creating the pre-conditions

for policing, rather than cleansing. Broadly speaking, infrastructural power is strengthened by international recognition of a state's right to be sovereign ruler over a given piece of territory. Without such recognition, states are constantly anxious that their claim to rule will be undermined.[44] To clarify, it is helpful to distinguish between sovereignty's empirical and juridical aspects.[45] Empirical sovereignty is the state's actual physical ability to control territory, expropriate the means of violence, administer the population, and shape social and political life. Juridical sovereignty, by contrast, is the theoretical right states have to do such things, and this is achieved through diplomatic practices, treaties, and international norms. States earn empirical sovereignty, conversely, through physical violence, control, and administration.[46] Infrastructural control is based chiefly on mechanisms of empirical sovereignty, but cannot endure without juridical recognition.[47]

A second way in which sovereignty promotes policing over cleansing is through its link to the global human rights norm. The two norms have become increasingly intertwined, creating a "package deal" in which governments gain juridical rights to territory in return for a commitment to treat the population appropriately.[48] Although actual policies obviously diverge substantially from international standards, no state can remain entirely indifferent.

Finally, sovereignty promotes policing by making it difficult for governments to disclaim responsibility for rogue internal violence. Given human rights pressures, governments are often tempted to argue that private actors are responsible for illegal violence, but the spirit of juridical sovereignty complicates this effort.[49] Sovereigns are expected to have expropriated the means of violence from the citizenry in their own territory, and actions by lawless private forces undermine the state's legitimacy, a fate most rulers seek to avoid.

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