Rethinking the Life of International Norms: The United Nations and the Global Promotion of Gender Equality


Krook, Mona Lena, and Jacqui True. 2012. “Rethinking the Life Cycles of International Norms: The United Nations and the Global Promotion of Gender Equality.” European Journal of International Relations 18 (1): 103–27.

Authors: Mona Lena Krook, Jacqui True


The diffusion of international norms and their effects on policy and political behaviour are central research questions in international relations. Informed by constructivism, prevailing models are marked by a crucial tension between a static view of norm content and a dynamic picture of norm adoption and implementation. Observing that norms continue to evolve after they emerge, we argue that a discursive approach offers a more promising way forward for theorizing and analysing the life cycles of international norms. We present a view of norms as processes, calling attention to both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ sources of dynamism. We illustrate this theory by tracing and comparing the life cycles of two global equality norms: gender-balanced decision-making and gender mainstreaming. We find that these norms emerged from two distinct policy realms, and after briefly converging in the mid-1990s, have since developed largely separately from, and often in tension with, one another.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Gender Balance, Gender Mainstreaming

Year: 2012

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