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International relations

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International relations

The [2]
The field of international relations dates from the time of the Greek historian Thucydides.

International Relations (IR) is the study of relationships among countries, the roles of multinational corporations (MNC). International relations is an academic and a public policy field, and so can be positive and normative, because it analyzes and formulates the foreign policy of a given State. As political activity, international relations dates from the time of the Greek historian Thucydides (ca. 460–395 BC), and, in the early 20th century, became a discrete academic field (No. 5901 in the 4-digit UNESCO Nomenclature) within political science. However, international relations is an interdisciplinary field of study.[3]

Besides political science, the field of international relations draws intellectual materials from the fields human security, foreign interventionism, and human rights.


  • History 1
    • Study of IR 1.1
  • Theory 2
    • Normative theory 2.1
    • Epistemology and IR theory 2.2
    • Positivist theories 2.3
      • Realism 2.3.1
      • Liberalism/idealism/liberal internationalism 2.3.2
      • Neoliberalism 2.3.3
      • Regime theory 2.3.4
    • Post-positivist/reflectivist theories 2.4
      • International society theory (the English school) 2.4.1
      • Social constructivism 2.4.2
      • Critical theory 2.4.3
      • Marxism 2.4.4
    • Leadership theories 2.5
      • Interest group perspective 2.5.1
      • Strategic perspective 2.5.2
      • Inherent bad faith model in international relations and political psychology 2.5.3
  • Post-structuralist theories 3
  • Concepts in international relations 4
    • Systemic level concepts 4.1
      • Sovereignty 4.1.1
      • Power 4.1.2
      • National Interest 4.1.3
      • Non-State Actors 4.1.4
      • Power Blocs 4.1.5
        • Polarity
      • Interdependence 4.1.6
      • Dependency 4.1.7
      • Systemic tools of international relations 4.1.8
  • Unit-level concepts in international relations 5
    • Regime type 5.1
    • Revisionism/status quo 5.2
    • Religion 5.3
  • Individual or sub-unit level concepts 6
  • Institutions in international relations 7
    • Generalist inter-state organizations 7.1
      • United Nations 7.1.1
      • Organisation of Islamic Cooperation 7.1.2
      • Other 7.1.3
    • Economic institutions 7.2
    • International legal bodies 7.3
      • Human rights 7.3.1
      • Legal 7.3.2
    • Regional security arrangements 7.4
  • See also 8
  • Notes and references 9
  • Bibliography 10
    • Theory 10.1
    • Textbooks 10.2
    • History of international relations 10.3


The history of international relations can be traced back to thousands of years ago; Barry Buzan and Richard Little, for example, consider the interaction of ancient Sumerian city-states, starting in 3,500 BC, as the first fully-fledged international system.[4]

The official portraits of King Władysław IV dressed according to French, Spanish and Polish fashion reflects the complex politics of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Thirty Years' War

The history of international relations based on

  • Beaulac, Stéphane. “The Westphalian Model in defining International Law: Challenging the Myth”, Australian Journal of Legal History Vol. 9 (2004).
  • Black, Jeremy. A History of Diplomacy (2010)
  • Calvocoressi, Peter. World Politics since 1945 (9th Edition, 2008) 956pp excerpt and text search
  • E. H. Carr Twenty Years Crisis (1940), 1919–39
  • Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500-2000 (1987), stress on economic and military factors
  • Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy (1995), not a memoir but an interpretive history of international diplomacy since the late 18th century
  • Krasner, Stephen D.: “Westphalia and all that” in Judith Goldstein & Robert Keohane (eds): Ideas and Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1993), pp. 235–264
  • New Cambridge Modern History (13 vol 1957-79), thorough coverage from 1500 to 1900
  • Pella, John & Erik Ringmar, History of International Relations Open Textbook Project, Cambridge: Open Book, forthcoming.
  • Schroeder, Paul W. The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) (1994) 920pp; history and analysis of major diplomacy
  • Taylor, A.J.P. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 (1954) (Oxford History of Modern Europe) 638pp; history and analysis of major diplomacy

History of international relations

  • Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations (2011)
  • Mingst, Karen A., and Ivan M. Arreguín-Toft. Essentials of International Relations (5th ed. 2010)
  • Nau, Henry R. Perspectives on International Relations: Power, Institutions, Ideas (2008)
  • Roskin, Michael G., and Nicholas O. Berry. IR: The New World of International Relations (8th ed. 2009)


  • Norman Angell The Great Illusion (London: Heinemann, 1910)
  • Hedley Bull Anarchical Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977)
  • Robert Cooper The Post-Modern State
  • Enloe, Cynthia. "'Gender' Is Not Enough: The Need for a Feminist Consciousness". International Affairs 80.1 (2004): 95-97. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.
  • Goodin, Robert E., and Hans-Dieter Klingemann, eds. A New Handbook of Political Science (1998) ch 16-19 pp 401–78 excerpt and text search
  • Charlotte Hooper "Masculinities, IR and the 'Gender Variable': A Cost-Benefit Analysis for (Sympathetic) Gender Sceptics." International Studies 25.3 (1999): 475-491.
  • Robert Keohane After Hegemony
  • Hans Köchler, Democracy and the International Rule of Law. Vienna/New York: Springer, 1995
  • Andrew Linklater Men and citizens in the theory of international relations
  • Reinhold Niebuhr Moral Man and Immoral Society 1932
  • Joseph Nye Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Public Affairs Ltd 2004
  • Paul Raskin The Great Transition Today: A Report from the Future
  • J. Ann Tickner Gender in International Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992)
  • Kenneth Waltz Man, the State, and War
  • Kenneth Waltz Theory of International Politics (1979), examines the foundation of By Bar
  • Michael Walzer Just and Unjust Wars 1977
  • Alexander Wendt Social Theory of International Politics 1999
  • J. Martin Rochester Fundamental Principles of International Relations (Westview Press, 2010)
  • An Introduction to International Relations Theory


  • Carlsnaes, Walter, et al eds. (2012). Handbook of International Relations. SAGE Publications. 
  • Reus-Smit, Christian, and Duncan Snidal, eds. The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2010)


  1. ^ (French) Simon Petite, "Rénovation du Palais des Nations : vote crucial", Le Temps, Monday 23 December 2013, p. 5.
  2. ^ (French) François Modoux, "La Suisse engagera 300 millions pour rénover le Palais des Nations", Le Temps, Friday 28 June 2013, page 9.
  3. ^ “International Relation”, Columbia Encyclopedia (1993) pp.000–0000.
  4. ^ Barry Buzan, Richard Little. International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations. published 2000
  5. ^ Stéphane Beaulac: “The Westphalian Model in defining International Law: Challenging the Myth”, Australian Journal of Legal History Vol. 9 (2004), Krasner, Stephen D.: “Westphalia and all that” in Judith Goldstein & Robert Keohane (eds): Ideas and Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1993), pp.235-264
  6. ^ "Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy". Stanford press. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
  8. ^ Walter Carlsnaes et al eds. (2012). Handbook of International Relations. SAGE Publications. pp. 1–28. 
  9. ^ ISBN 9780199297771, Fourth edition, pp.2-13
  10. ^ Morganthau, Hans (1978). Politics Among Nations: The struggle for Power and Peace. New York. pp. 4–15. 
  11. ^ Norris, Cochrane, Charles (1929). Thucydides and the Science of History. Oxford University Press. p. 179. 
  12. ^ Baylis, John; Smith, Steve (2001). The globalization of world politics : an introduction to international relations (2. ed. ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 149.  
  13. ^ a b Mingst, Karen A., & Arreguín-Toft, Ivan M. (2011). Essentials of International Relations (5th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
  14. ^ Wilson, Woodrow. "History Learning site". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Mingst, Karen A., & Snyder, Jack L. (2011). Essential Readings in World Politics (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
  16. ^ Krasner, Stephen D., ed. 1983. “Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables.” In International Regimes, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, pp. 1.
  17. ^ Stuart, Douglas; Starr, Harvey (1981). "The 'Inherent Bad Faith Model' Reconsidered: Dulles, Kennedy, and Kissinger". Political Psychology 3 (3/4): 1–33.  
  18. ^ "...the most widely studied is the inherent bad faith model of one’s opponent...", The handbook of social psychology, Volumes 1-2, edited by Daniel T. Gilbert, Susan T. Fiske, Gardner Lindzey
  19. ^ "...the most widely studied is the inherent bad faith model of one's opponent", The handbook of social psychology, Volumes 1-2, edited by Daniel T. Gilbert, Susan T. Fiske, Gardner Lindzey
  20. ^ p. 13, N. Oluwafemi Mimiko. "Globalization: The Politics of Global Economic Relations and International Business." Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2012.
  21. ^ p. 17-20, N. Oluwafemi Mimiko. "Globalization: The Politics of Global Economic Relations and International Business." Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2012.
  22. ^ pp. 14-15, N. Oluwafemi Mimiko. "Globalization: The Politics of Global Economic Relations and International Business." Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2012.
  23. ^ pp. 15-16, N. Oluwafemi Mimiko. "Globalization: The Politics of Global Economic Relations and International Business." Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2012.
  24. ^>
  25. ^ Snyder, ed., Jack (2011). Religion and International Relations Theory. Columbia University Press. pp. 1–23. 
  26. ^ E.g., Donald Markwell, John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace, Oxford University Press, 2006. Donald Markwell, Keynes and International Economic and Political Relations, Trinity Paper 33, Trinity College, University of Melbourne. [1]
  27. ^ Fabrice Rivault, (1999) Culturologie Politique Internationale : Une approche systémique et matérialiste de la culture et du système social global, McGill Dissertation, Montréal, publiée par Culturology Press
  28. ^ Xintian, Yu (2005) "Cultural Factors In International Relations", Chinese Philosophical Studies.
  29. ^ Xintian, Yu (2009),"Combining Research on Cultural Theory and International Relations"
  30. ^

Notes and references

See also

Regional security arrangements


Human rights

International legal bodies

NATO E-3A flying with USAF F-16s in a NATO exercise.
The World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Economic institutions

Other generalist inter-state organizations include:


The Muslim world (Ummah) and attempts to safeguard the interests and ensure the progress and well-being of Muslims.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

The governments facilitating co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity"; It is the most prominent international institution. Many of the legal institutions follow the same organizational structure as the UN.

United Nations

Generalist inter-state organizations

International institutions form a vital part of contemporary international relations. Much interaction at the system level is governed by them, and they outlaw some traditional institutions and practices of international relations, such as the use of war (except in self-defence).

Institutions in international relations

  • Psychological factors in international relations – Evaluating psychological factors in international relations comes from the understanding that a state is not a "black box" as proposed by Realism, and that there may be other influences on foreign policy decisions. Examining the role of personalities in the decision making process can have some explanatory power, as can the role of misperception between various actors. A prominent application of sub-unit level psychological factors in international relations is the concept of Groupthink, another is the propensity of policymakers to think in terms of analogies.
  • Bureaucratic politics – Looks at the role of the bureaucracy in decision making, and sees decisions as a result of bureaucratic in-fighting, and as having been shaped by various constraints.
  • Religious, ethnic, and secessionist groups – Viewing these aspects of the sub-unit level has explanatory power with regards to ethnic conflicts, religious wars, transnational diaspora (diaspora politics) and other actors which do not consider themselves to fit with the defined state boundaries. This is particularly useful in the context of the pre-modern world of weak states.
  • Science, technology and international relations – How science and technology impact the global health, business, environment, technology, and development.
  • International political economy, and economic factors in international relations.[26]
  • International political culturology – Looks at how culture and cultural variables impact in international relations.[27][28][29]
  • Personal relations between leaders.[30]

The level beneath the unit (state) level can be useful both for explaining factors in international relations that other theories fail to explain, and for moving away from a state-centric view of international relations.

Individual or sub-unit level concepts

Religion can have an effect on the way a state acts within the international system. Different theoretical perspectives treat it in somewhat different fashion. One dramatic example is the liberal international relations theory. Events since 9-11, the role of Islam in terrorism, and the strife in the Middle East have made it a major topic.[25]


States can be classified by whether they accept the international status quo, or are revisionist, i.e. want change. Revisionist states seek to fundamentally change the rules and practices of international relations, feeling disadvantaged by the status quo. They see the international system as a largely western creation which serves to reinforce current realities. Japan is an example of a state that has gone from being a revisionist state to one that is satisfied with the status quo, because the status quo is now beneficial to it.

Revisionism/status quo

Communism justifies a world revolution, which similarly would lead to peaceful coexistence, based on a proletarian global society. the power politics is also considered

Democratic peace theory is a theory that suggests that the nature of democracy means that democratic countries will not go to war with each other. The justifications for this are that democracies externalise their norms and only go to war for just causes, and that democracy encourages mutual trust and respect.

It is often considered that a state's form of government can dictate the way that a state interacts with others in the international system.

Regime type

As a level of analysis the unit level is often referred to as the state level, as it locates its explanation at the level of the state, rather than the international system.

Unit-level concepts in international relations

  • Diplomacy is the practice of communication and negotiation between representatives of states. To some extent, all other tools of international relations can be considered the failure of diplomacy. Keeping in mind, the use of other tools are part of the communication and negotiation inherent within diplomacy. Sanctions, force, and adjusting trade regulations, while not typically considered part of diplomacy, are actually valuable tools in the interest of leverage and placement in negotiations.
  • Sanctions are usually a first resort after the failure of diplomacy, and are one of the main tools used to enforce treaties. They can take the form of diplomatic or economic sanctions and involve the cutting of ties and imposition of barriers to communication or trade.
  • War, the use of force, is often thought of as the ultimate tool of international relations. A widely accepted definition is that given by Clausewitz, with war being "the continuation of politics by other means". There is a growing study into 'new wars' involving actors other than states. The study of war in international relations is covered by the disciplines of 'War Studies' and 'Strategic studies'.
  • The mobilization of international shame can also be thought of as a tool of international relations. This is attempting to alter states' actions through 'naming and shaming' at the international level. This is mostly done by the large human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International (for instance when it called Guantanamo Bay a "Gulag"),[24] or Human Rights Watch. A prominent use of was the UN Commission on Human Rights 1235 procedure, which publicly exposes state's human rights violations. The current United Nations Human Rights Council has yet to use this Mechanism
  • The allotment of economic and/or diplomatic benefits. An example of this is the European Union's enlargement policy. Candidate countries are allowed entry into the EU only after the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria.

Systemic tools of international relations

Dependency theory is a theory most commonly associated with Marxism, stating that a set of core states exploit a set of weaker periphery states for their prosperity. Various versions of the theory suggest that this is either an inevitability (standard dependency theory), or use the theory to highlight the necessity for change (Neo-Marxist).


Many advocate that the current international system is characterized by growing interdependence; the mutual responsibility and dependency on others. Advocates of this point to growing globalization, particularly with international economic interaction. The role of international institutions, and widespread acceptance of a number of operating principles in the international system, reinforces ideas that relations are characterized by interdependence.


This can be expressed in A.F.K. Organski, argued this based on the occurrence of previous wars during British, Portuguese and Dutch hegemony.

Hegemonic stability theory (developed by Robert Gilpin) also draws upon the idea of polarity, specifically the state of unipolarity. Hegemony is the preponderance of power at one pole in the international system, and the theory argues this is a stable configuration because of mutual gains by both the dominant power and others in the international system. This is contrary to many neorealist arguments, particularly made by Kenneth Waltz, stating that the end of the Cold War and the state of unipolarity is an unstable configuration that will inevitably change.

Several theories of international relations draw upon the idea of polarity.
The balance of power was a concept prevalent in Europe prior to the First World War, the thought being that by balancing power blocs it would create stability and prevent war. Theories of the balance of power gained prominence again during the Cold War, being a central mechanism of Kenneth Waltz's Neorealism. Here, the concepts of balancing (rising in power to counter another) and bandwagonning (siding with another) are developed.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had led to what some would call unipolarity, with the United States as a sole superpower. However, due to China's continued rapid economic growth (in 2010 it became the world's second-largest economy), combined with the respectable international position they hold within political spheres and the power that the Chinese Government exerts over their people (consisting of the largest population in the world), there is debate over whether China is now a superpower or a possible candidate in the future.

Empires of the world in 1910.

Polarity in international relations refers to the arrangement of power within the international system. The concept arose from bipolarity during the Cold War, with the international system dominated by the conflict between two superpowers, and has been applied retrospectively by theorists. However, the term bipolar was notably used by Stalin who said he saw the international system as a bipolar one with two opposing powerbases and ideologies. Consequently, the international system prior to 1945 can be described as multi-polar, with power being shared among Great powers.


The existence of power blocs in international relations is a significant factor which is related to Polarity. Particularly during the Cold War, the alignment of several nations to one side or another based on ideological differences or national interests has become an endemic feature of international relations. Unlike prior, shorter-term blocs, the Western and Soviet bloc’s sought to spread their national ideological differences to other nations. Leaders like U.S. President Harry S. Truman under the Truman Doctrine believed it was necessary to spread democracy whereas the Warsaw Pact under Soviet policy sought to spread communism. After the Cold War, and the dissolution of the ideologically homogenous Eastern bloc still gave rise to others such as the South-South Cooperation movement.[23]

Power Blocs

In the 21st century, the status-quo of the international system is no longer monopolized by states alone. Rather, it is the presence of non-state actors, who autonomously act to implement unpredictable behavior to the international system. Whether it is Al-Qaeda, as an example of a non-state actor, has significantly influenced the way states (and non-state actors) conduct international affairs.[22]

Non-State Actors

Perhaps the most significant concept behind that of power and sovereignty, national interest is a state’s action in relation to other states where it seeks to gain advantage or benefits to itself. National interest, whether aspirational or operational, is divided by core/vital and peripheral/non-vital interests. Core or vital interests constitute the things which a country is willing to defend or expand with conflict such as territory, ideology (religious, political, economic), or its citizens. Peripheral or non-vital are interests which a state is willing to compromise. For example, in the German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 (a part of Czechoslovakia) under the Munich Agreement, Czechoslovakia was willing to relinquish territory which was considered ethnically German in order to preserve its own integrity and sovereignty.[21]

National Interest

The concept of power in international relations can be described as the degree of resources, capabilities, and influence in international affairs. It is often divided up into the concepts of hard power and soft power, hard power relating primarily to coercive power, such as the use of force, and soft power commonly covering economics, diplomacy and cultural influence. However, there is no clear dividing line between the two forms of power.


Preceding the concepts of interdependence and dependence, international relations relies on the idea of sovereignty. Described in Jean Bodin's "Six Books of the Commonwealth in 1576, the three pivotal points derived from the book describe sovereignty as being a state, that the sovereign power(s) have absolute power over their territories, and that such a power is only limited by the sovereign's "own obligations towards other sovereigns and individuals."[20] Such a foundation of sovereignty permits, as is indicated by a sovereign's obligation to other sovereigns, interdependence and dependence to take place. While throughout world history there have been instances of groups lacking or losing sovereignty, such as African nations prior to Decolonization or the occupation of Iraq during the Iraq War, there is still a need for sovereignty in terms of assessing international relations.


International relations are often viewed in terms of levels of analysis. The systemic level concepts are those broad concepts that define and shape an international milieu, characterised by anarchy.

Systemic level concepts

Concepts in international relations

Post-structuralist theories of IR developed in the 1980s from postmodernist studies in political science. Post-structuralism explores the deconstruction of concepts traditionally not problematic in IR (such as "power" and "agency") and examines how the construction of these concepts shapes international relations. The examination of "narratives" plays an important part in poststructuralist analysis; for example, feminist poststructuralist work has examined the role that "women" play in global society and how they are constructed in war as "innocent" and "civilians". (See also feminism in international relations.)

Post-structuralist theories

[19] The "

Inherent bad faith model in international relations and political psychology

Strategic perspective is a theoretical approach that views individuals as choosing their actions by taking into account the anticipated actions and responses of others with the intention of maximizing their own welfare.

Strategic perspective

Interest Group theory posits that the driving force behind state behavior is sub-state interest groups. Examples of interest groups include political lobbyists, the military, and the corporate sector. Group theory argues that although these interest groups are constitutive of the state, they are also causal forces in the exercise of state power.

Interest group perspective

Leadership theories

Marxist theories receive little attention in the United States where no significant Socialist party has flourished. It is more common in parts of Europe and is one of the more important theoretic contributions of Latin American academia to the study of global networks.

Linked in with Marxist theories is dependency theory and the Core-Periphery Model, which argue that developed countries, in their pursuit of power, appropriate developing states through international banking, security and trade agreements and unions on a formal level, and do so through the interaction of political & financial advisors, missionaries, relief aid workers, and multinational corporations on the informal level, in order to integrate them into the capitalist system, strategically appropriating under-valued natural resources and labor hours and fostering economic & political dependence.

Marxist and Neo-Marxist theories of IR reject the realist/liberal view of state conflict or cooperation; instead focusing on the economic and material aspects. It makes the assumption that the economy trumps other concerns; allowing for the elevation of class as the focus of study. Marxists view the international system as an integrated capitalist system in pursuit of capital accumulation. Thus, the period of colonialism brought in sources for raw materials and captive markets for exports, while decolonialization brought new opportunities in the form of dependence.


Critical international relations theory is the application of 'critical theory' to international relations. Proponents such as Andrew Linklater, Robert W. Cox and Ken Booth focus on the need for human emancipation from States. Hence, it is 'critical' of mainstream IR theories that tend to be state-centric.

Critical theory

For example, if the system is dominated by states that see anarchy as a life or death situation (what Wendt terms a "Hobbesian" anarchy) then the system will be characterised by warfare. If on the other hand anarchy is seen as restricted (a "Lockean" anarchy) then a more peaceful system will exist. Anarchy in this view is constituted by state interaction, rather than accepted as a natural and immutable feature of international life as viewed by neo-realist IR scholars..

Social constructivism encompasses a broad range of theories that aim to address questions of ontology, such as the structure-and-agency debate, as well as questions of epistemology, such as the "material/ideational" debate that concerns the relative role of material forces versus ideas. Constructivism is not a theory of IR in the manner of neo-realism, but is instead a social theory which is used to better explain the actions taken by states and other major actors as well as the identities that guide these states and actors.

Social constructivism

International society theory, also called the English School, focuses on the shared norms and values of states and how they regulate international relations. Examples of such norms include diplomacy, order, and international law. Unlike neo-realism, it is not necessarily positivist. Theorists have focused particularly on humanitarian intervention, and are subdivided between solidarists, who tend to advocate it more, and pluralists, who place greater value in order and sovereignty. Nicholas Wheeler is a prominent solidarist, while Hedley Bull and Robert H. Jackson are perhaps the best known pluralists.

International society theory (the English school)

Post-positivist/reflectivist theories

Not all approaches to regime theory, however are liberal or neoliberal; some realist scholars like Joseph Greico have developed hybrid theories which take a realist based approach to this fundamentally liberal theory. (Realists do not say cooperation never happens, just that it is not the norm; it is a difference of degree).

While realism predicts that conflict should be the norm in international relations, regime theorists say that there is cooperation despite anarchy. Often they cite cooperation in trade, human rights and collective security among other issues. These instances of cooperation are regimes. The most commonly cited definition of regimes comes from Stephen Krasner. Krasner defines regimes as "principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area."[16]

Regime theory is derived from the liberal tradition that argues that international institutions or regimes affect the behavior of states (or other international actors). It assumes that cooperation is possible in the anarchic system of states, indeed, regimes are by definition, instances of international cooperation.

Regime theory

institutionalism, this new part of the theory being fronted by Robert Keohane and also Joseph Nye.


Major theorists include Brede et de Montesquieu, Immanuel Kant, Robert Keohane, and John Mueller.[15]

Liberalism was not recognized as a coherent theory as such until it was collectively and derisively termed idealism by E. H. Carr. A new version of "idealism" that focused on human rights as the basis of the legitimacy of international law was advanced by Hans Köchler.

Liberal international relations theory arose after World War I in response to the inability of states to control and limit war in their international relations. Early adherents include Woodrow Wilson and Norman Angell, who argued vigorously that states mutually gained from cooperation and that war was so destructive as to be essentially futile.[14]

Liberalism is the theoretical perspective based on the assumption of the innate goodness of the individual and the value of political institutions in promoting social progress.[13] According to liberalism individuals are basically good and capable of meaningful cooperation to promote positive change. Liberalism views states, nongovernmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations as key actors in the international system. States have many interests and are not necessarily unitary and autonomous, although they remain sovereign. Liberal theory stresses the interdependence among states, multinational corporations, and international institutions. Theorists such as Hedley Bull have postulated an international society in which various actors communicate and recognize common rules, institutions, and interests. Liberals also view the international system as anarchic since there is no single overarching international authority and each individual state is left to act in its own-self interest. Liberalism is historically rooted in the liberal philosophical traditions associated with Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant that posit that human nature is basically good and that individual self-interest can be harnessed by society to promote aggregate social welfare. Individuals form groups and later, states. States are generally cooperative and follow international norms and procedures that they agree upon.[13]

Liberalism/idealism/liberal internationalism

The placement of Realism under positivism is far from unproblematic however. E.H. Carr's 'What is History' was a deliberate critique of positivism, and Hans Morgenthau's aim in 'Scientific Man vs Power Politics' – as the title implies – was to demolish any conception that international politics/power politics can be studied scientifically.

Thucydides, the author of Peloponnesian War is considered to be the founding father of the realist school of political philosophy.[11] Amongst others, philosophers like Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau are considered to have contributed to the Realist philosophy.[12] However, while their work may support realist doctrine, it is not likely that they would have classified themselves as realists in this sense. Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature. To improve society, it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives. The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, persons will challenge them only at the risk of failure. Realism, believing as it does in the objectivity of the laws of politics, must also believe in the possibility of developing a rational theory that reflects, however imperfectly and one-sidedly, these objective laws. It believes also, then, in the possibility of distinguishing in politics between truth and opinion-between what is true objectively and rationally, supported by evidence and illuminated by reason, and what is only a subjective judgment, divorced from the facts as they are and informed by prejudice and wishful thinking.

as the vindication of their theory. World War II Cooperation between states is a way to maximize each individual state's security (as opposed to more idealistic reasons). Similarly, any act of war must be based on self-interest, rather than on idealism. Many realists saw [10]


Positivist theories

During the late 1980s and the 1990s, debate between positivists and post-positivists became the dominant debate and has been described as constituting the Third "Great Debate" (Lapid 1989).

A key difference between the two positions is that while positivist theories, such as neo-realism, offer causal explanations (such as why and how power is exercised), post-positivist theories focus instead on constitutive questions, for instance what is meant by 'power'; what makes it up, how it is experienced and how it is reproduced. Often, post-positivist theories explicitly promote a normative approach to IR, by considering ethics. This is something which has often been ignored under 'traditional' IR as positivist theories make a distinction between 'facts' and normative judgments, or 'values'.

IR theories can be roughly divided into one of two epistemological camps: "positivist" and "post-positivist". Positivist theories aim to replicate the methods of the natural sciences by analysing the impact of material forces. They typically focus on features of international relations such as state interactions, size of military forces, balance of powers etc. Post-positivist epistemology rejects the idea that the social world can be studied in an objective and value-free way. It rejects the central ideas of neo-realism/liberalism, such as rational choice theory, on the grounds that the scientific method cannot be applied to the social world and that a 'science' of IR is impossible.

Epistemology and IR theory

In the academic discipline of international relations, Smith, Baylis & Owens in their Introduction to Smith, Baylis & Owens (2008)[9] make the case that the normative position or normative theory is to make the World a better place and that this theoretical worldview aims to do so by being aware of implicit assumptions and explicit assumptions that constitute a non-normative position and align or position the normative towards the loci of other key socio-political theories such as political Liberalism, Marxism, political Constructivism, political Realism, political Idealism and political Globalization.

Normative theory


The first university entirely dedicated to the study of IR was the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service is the oldest international relations faculty in the United States, founded in 1919. The Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago was the first to offer a graduate degree,in 1928. In 1965, Glendon College and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs were the first institutions in Canada to offer an undergraduate and a graduate program in international studies and affairs, respectively. Now Universities in USA, UK, Europe, India,Kazakhstan, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Africa, Russia, Indonesia offer Graduate, Post-Graduate & PhD degrees in IR.

Initially, international relations as a distinct field of study was almost entirely British-centered. IR only emerged as a formal academic ‘discipline’ in 1919 with the founding of the first ‘chair’ (professorship) in IR – the Woodrow Wilson Chair at Aberystwyth, University of Wales (now Aberystwyth University[7]), from an endowment given by David Davies, became the first academic position dedicated to IR. This was rapidly followed by establishment of IR at US universities and Geneva, Switzerland. In the early 1920s, the London School of Economics' department of international relations was founded at the behest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Philip Noel-Baker, and was the first institute to offer a wide range of degrees in the field. Furthermore, the International History department at LSE, developed as primarily focused on the history of IR in the early modern, colonial and Cold War periods.[8]

Flags of the member states of the United Nations

Study of IR

Similarly, liberalism[6] draws upon the work of Kant and Rousseau, with the work of the former often being cited as the first elaboration of democratic peace theory. Though contemporary human rights is considerably different from the type of rights envisioned under natural law, Francisco de Vitoria, Hugo Grotius and John Locke offered the first accounts of universal entitlement to certain rights on the basis of common humanity. In the twentieth century, in addition to contemporary theories of liberal internationalism, Marxism has been a foundation of international relations.

What is explicitly recognized as international relations theory was not developed until after World War I, and is dealt with in more detail below. IR theory, however, has a long tradition of drawing on the work of other social sciences. The use of capitalizations of the "I" and "R" in international relations aims to distinguish the academic discipline of international relations from the phenomena of international relations. Many cite Sun Tzu's The Art of War (6th century BC), Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC), Chanakya's Arthashastra (4th century BC), as the inspiration for realist theory, with Hobbes' Leviathan and Machiavelli's The Prince providing further elaboration.

Further, a handful of states have moved beyond insistence on full sovereignty, and can be considered "post-modern". The ability of contemporary IR discourse to explain the relations of these different types of states is disputed. "Levels of analysis" is a way of looking at the international system, which includes the individual level, the domestic state as a unit, the international level of transnational and intergovernmental affairs, and the global level.

The particular European system supposing the sovereign equality of states was exported to the Americas, Africa, and Asia via colonialism and the "standards of civilization". The contemporary international system was finally established through decolonization during the Cold War. However, this is somewhat over-simplified. While the nation-state system is considered "modern", many states have not incorporated the system and are termed "pre-modern".

The centuries of roughly 1500 to 1789 saw the rise of the independent, sovereign states, the institutionalization of diplomacy and armies. The French Revolution added to this the new idea that not princes or an oligarchy, but the citizenry of a state, defined as the nation, should be defined as sovereign. Such a state in which the nation is sovereign would thence be termed a nation-state (as opposed to a monarchy, or a religious state). The term republic increasingly became its synonym. An alternative model of the nation-state was developed in reaction to the French republican concept by the Germans and others, who instead of giving the citizenry sovereignty, kept the princes and nobility, but defined nation-statehood in ethnic-linguistic terms, establishing the rarely if ever fulfilled ideal that all people speaking one language should belong to one state only. The same claim to sovereignty was made for both forms of nation-state. (It is worth noting that in Europe today, few states conform to either definition of nation-state: many continue to have royal sovereigns, and hardly any are ethnically homogeneous.)

of 1713 is thought to reflect an emerging norm that sovereigns had no internal equals within a defined territory and no external superiors as the ultimate authority within the territory's sovereign borders. Treaty of Utrecht More than the Peace of Westphalia, the [5]

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