The formal Mandate of the HCNM as agreed by Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states at Copenhagen in 1992 is to provide 'early warning' and as appropriate 'early action' 'in regard to tensions involving national minority issues which...have the potential to develop into a conflict within the OSCE area, affecting peace, stability or relations between participating States...' The formal Mandate makes no reference to 'norms' and evidence suggests that OSCE states did not create the office of the HCNM for purposes of norm standard setting or enforcement. And yet, as the role of the HCNM has evolved over the past twenty-years, norm articulation and persuasion in the form of both country-specific recommendations and general thematic recommendations have emerged as central activities. This paper will argue that the HCNM has in effect become a 'norm entrepreneur'. Successful conflict prevention may thus be understood as successful 'norm persuasion'. The norm entrepreneur model underscores the normative dimension of security, explains how the HCNM is able to exercise moral leverage over OSCE member states, and prompts a critical reflection on those factors which mitigate in favour of 'success' or 'failure' in particular cases.
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