Excited to share the article “A conditional norm: chemical warfare from colonialism to contemporary civil wars,” published with Güneş M. Tezcür in Third World Quarterly.
We ask under what conditions do third parties emphatically sanction violators of the chemical weapons (CW) norm? While we agree that the norm against CW remains valid at a discursive level, we argue that the anti-CW norm has never had universal status and always remained conditional on a hierarchy of victims. While the perpetrators have changed from imperialistic regimes to dictatorships facing popular rebellions, victims have remained primarily civilian populations in the Global South. Consequently, a recognition of this hierarchy of victims is essential for a more informed understanding of the weakness inherent in the CW norm.
For our empirical analysis we consulted a variety of rich archival resources including primary language documents to study a number of historical cases including late colonial wars during the interwar period, and Middle Eastern civil wars since the late twentieth century.