Concepts of International Relations

Concepts in international relations Conjuncture In decision making in international relations, the concept of International Conjuncture, together with freedom of action and equality are important elements. Decision makers must take into account the set of international conditions in taking initiatives that would create different types of responses. Systemic level concepts International relations is 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.

Power (super powers) Darkest blue countries most often considered to be superpowers, dark blue countries most often considered to be great powers, pale blue countries most often considered to be middle powers, and palest blue countries also sometimes considered to be middle powers. [2] 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. Polarity (international political structure) 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 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 surge of economic success after joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, ombined 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. 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. 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. This can be expressed in Power transition theory, which states that it is likely that a great power would challenge a hegemon after a certain period, resulting in a major war. It suggests that while hegemony can control the occurrence of wars, it also results in the creation of one. Its main proponent, A. F. K. Organski, argued this based on the occurrence of previous wars during British, Portuguese and Dutch hegemony.

Interdependence 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. Dependency NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Dependency heory 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). Systemic tools of 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”)[3], 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 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.