Political Opportunity Structures and the Outcomes of Transnational Campaigns: A Comparison of Two Transnational Advocacy Networks


  • Noha Shawki

  • The author would like to thank Karen Rasler, Robbie Lieberman, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.


Two of the most prominent transnational advocacy networks that were launched in the 1990s are the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). The ICBL was very successful in shaping global policy on landmines, while IANSA has had much less political impact. To explain the substantial difference in the political outcomes of these otherwise quite similar campaigns, this article draws on the concept of the political opportunity structure, a key concept in social movement theory, adapts it to the transnational context, and applies it to a comparison of the ICBL and IANSA. Transnational advocacy networks that are able to seize the opportunities created by international conference diplomacy and by UN initiatives, and whose agenda does not result in value clashes or other types of intractable conflicts, are more likely to shape political outcomes.