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Schulze, Christian; Pamp, Oliver and Thurner, Paul W. (1. September 2017): Economic Incentives and the Effectiveness of Nonproliferation Norms. German Major Conventional Arms Transfers 1953–2013. In: International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 3: pp. 529-543

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Do norms constrain states’ foreign policies even in the face of strong economic incentives to ignore them? Arms exports provide an excellent opportunity to examine this question more closely. They regularly spark fierce political debates on whether to trade goods that buyers might deploy with devastating effects. We use the case of German arms exports to provide an in-depth statistical analysis of the behavior of a major arms exporter that claims to follow high normative standards. In particular, we investigate to what extent domestic, supranational, and international rules and norms shape German decisions about the destination and volume of major conventional weapon deliveries. Using panel data for the period 1953–2013, we employ a Heckman selection model to capture the two-step nature of the decision-making process. We find that German arms export policies often fail to comply with standards that prohibit exports to countries embroiled in military conflicts, civil wars, or with strong human rights violations. Furthermore, we discover, however, that the country fully complied with multilateral arms embargoes after 1990. We conclude that the noneffectiveness of certain rules and norms stems from both the ambiguity of norms and the opacity of decision-making processes.

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