chapter  6
Resisting the emerging ‘humanitarian access’ norm
ByALAN BLOOMFIELD
Pages 19

Conceptual matters The reader will recall that the introductory chapter argued that distinguishing between antipreneurs and entrepreneurs promised to help correct ‘macro’ problems with the norm dynamics literature, especially case selection biases, because

overtly distinguishing antipreneurial ‘status quo defenders’ from entrepreneurial ‘agents of change’ draws attention to currently under-studied cases (see also: Bloomfield, 2015). Yet other benefits are arguably more relevant in this chapter: in particular, theorising overtly about antipreneurs might also help solve potential ‘micro’ or within-case problems. One is the puzzle of why relatively strong and skilful norm entrepreneurs sometimes fail to achieve normative change. Theorising more systematically about antipreneurs, however, alerts us to the possibility that they may enjoy asymmetrical ‘strategic’ and ‘tactical’ advantages when defending the normative status quo. To clarify, arguably strategic advantages tend to ‘naturally’ accrue to antipreneurs given that most human collectivities are inherently risk averse and tend to favour the status quo (Legro, 2000). Thus, because entrepreneurs must typically take the initiative and successfully make two strategic moves – demonstrating the status quo produces problematic outcomes and also providing a credible alternative – antipreneurs can often both defend the status quo and cast doubt on the alternative’s viability. Further tactical advantages may accrue if the status quo is deeply entrenched and heavily institutionalised. In such circumstances antipreneurs can play a ‘gatekeeper’ (Busby, 2000) or a ‘veto-player’ role (Tsebelis, 1995) to frustrate or block entrepreneurs’ efforts to accumulate the precedents necessary to entrench the new norm, or to clarify its scope or content, or to reform institutions in ways which reflect it (Bloomfield, 2015, 13-17). These are probably the most important within-case conceptual benefits of recognising an entrepreneur/antipreneur distinction, but this chapter also demonstrates that doing so can help ‘unpack’ complex cases which feature actors arguing ‘at cross purposes’, so to speak, in different contexts within the same issue-area, and determine how these dynamics affect the overall normative status quo in that issue-area. Finally, the reader may recall from the introductory chapter that Deitelhoff and Zimmermann have argued that ‘applicatory contestation’ – disputes over whether a norm should apply in a particular circumstance – tends to strengthen a norm because it ‘give[s] rise to learning processes . . . regarding the claims [the] norm involves’ (2013, 14), while justificatory contestation (i.e. when a norm’s moral basis is attacked) typically weakens a norm. We will see below, however, that this distinction might be too blunt and that theorising about antipreneurs can enable somewhat more subtle understandings of how applicatory contestation affects the strength of new norms (i.e. it might ‘prevent them strengthening’). The findings made in this chapter also broadly support Panke and Petersohn’s claim that norm-violations alone – especially a ‘single instance’, even one stretching over a decade or more – do not necessarily erode the normative status quo. Instead, only when a ‘violation cascade’ occurs, and ‘the emerging new practice is no longer framed as non-compliance’ by other actors, does a new normative status quo crystallise (2011). Empirical analysis of the various challenges to the normative status quo in the humanitarian access issue-area, and the resistance such has generated, can now begin. The next section examines Israel’s attempt to justify restricting access in

the occupation context, before the subsequent sections examine how entrepreneurs have been seeking greater humanitarian access in the civil war and then the natural disaster contexts.