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Title: Bridge Builders & Fire Starters: Issue-Based Coalitions and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Authors: Drew, David
Advisors: Mian, Zia
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: This paper examines the roles played by various groups of nations within the confines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT. The NPT’s structure and foundations are first examined with a particular focus on how the Treaty’s origins lead to group formation. This examination is then followed by the introduction of two frameworks for understanding group dynamics within the NPT. One, a new labeling system for the varying kinds of groups within the NPT, divides groups on a primary level between “groups” and “coalitions” and on a secondary level between “historical/geopolitical groups”, “structural groups”, “narrow/regional coalitions”, and “issue-based coalitions”, in order to better facilitate discussion of the different functions that the different kinds of groups can fulfill. The second framework is that of a series of proposed functions, originally from Jayantha Dhanapala – the ideas of “bridge building” and serving as a member of the “fire brigade” for the Treaty. To examine these two functions and explore what other functions groups within the NPT framework might be able to fulfill, the paper examines three “issue-based coalitions” and how they have functioned within the Treaty in the recent past. “Issue-based coalitions” are voluntary associations of like-minded nations determined to act outside of particular self-interest on nonproliferation and disarmament issues. Usually, these coalitions are diverse and full of particularly qualified nations (whether from participation in earlier coalitions or due to structural features that lend them differing levels of moral credibility and force). The first coalition (briefly) examined is the New Agenda Coalition, a 1998 coalition formed in response to concerns over the indefinite extension of the NPT. The NAC paved the way for “bridge-building” coalitions by employing a particular brand of rhetoric; by both serving as a fire brigade member and a “fire starter” to raise alarm about issues, the NAC was effective in provoking change in 2000. After the NAC is the NPDI, a current coalition of middle/mid-major powers with particularly close ties to the Western Group and the NWS. While they have struggled to find unity in a goal, their diplomatic ties and bridge building capabilities suggest good things ahead. Finally, the paper briefly discusses the humanitarian initiative, a recent “fire starting” campaign designed to reignite passions on the NPT. While the initiative is young, it has raised the ire of the NWS; the paper considers possible reasons and offers its take. The paper concludes by considering lessons for current and future groups, and arguing for the continued relevance of the NPT.
Extent: 90 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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