Blame Games in International Arenas: How the attribution of moral responsibility influences governmental actions

Project: ResearchResearch, Dissertation project


One of the most intriguing developments in International Relations literature
is the increasing willingness to ascribe moral responsibility to states. This is
true of war, humanitarian intervention, and even financial regulation, as was
once the domain of state policy. Although the new literature builds upon
various traditions (i.a. philosophy, sociology, law), it tends to subscribe to
basic features of blame games. Contrary to some previous works that
tended to see manifestations of blame as fixed in one moment, this
research project argues that blame can be understood as a dynamic
process modified over time by features of blame games. The main objective
of the thesis is to understand how an international blame impacts states’
behavior in this process. More generally, it seeks to offer insights into the
tracing of the causal effects of ideas in International Relations. Qualitative
and quantitative evidence will be sought in the context of international
blaming related to conflict diamonds across three selected cases: Belgium,
Botswana, and the United States. Belgium and the US are two of the
world’s biggest diamond importers while Botswana is the first diamond
exporter. These countries were all blamed for their implication in the selling
of blood diamonds, after which they took part in the launching of the
Kimberley Process, and are all currently praised for their behavior in this
matter. How did they manage to do this? In order to outline the causal
process(es) triggered by the international blame, the thesis will combine a
method focusing on causation and a method centered upon language. For
each country case, the process will be divided in four periods, and processtracing
data as well as content analysis data from each period will be
analyzed and correlated.
Short titleBlame Games in International Arenas
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/20