Document Type


Publication Date

March 2000



First Page



Establishment of the Ottawa Convention Banning Landmines was regarded by many international law scholars, international activists, diplomats and international organization personnel as a defining, 'democratizing' change in the way international law is made. By bringing international NGOs - what is often called 'international civil society' - into the diplomatic and international law-making process, many believe that the Ottawa Convention represented both a democratization of, and a new source of legitimacy for, international law, in part because it was presumably made 'from below'. This article sharply questions whether the Ottawa Convention and the process leading up to it represents and real 'democratization' of international law, challenges the idea that there is even such a thing as 'international civil society', at least in the sense that it is democratic and comes 'from below', and disputes that there can be such a thing as 'democratic' processes at the global level. It suggests, by way of alternative, that the Ottawa Convention and the process leading up to it should be seen as a step in the development of global transnational elites at the expense of genuinely democratic, but hence local, processes.