Please read this blog post before posting and raise at least one point from it that you deem important in your Week 1 post: http://inpublicsafety.com/2016/01/sharpening-scholarly-skills-can-enhance-professional-performance/
After reading the Week 1 Lesson and completing the first readings, please address the following questions:
(1) Given that states are self-interested actors, why do IOs exist?
(2) What IOs, or kinds of IOs, do you find the most effective or necessary in international politics and why? Please differentiate between different types of IOs (e.g., IGOs, NGOs) to explain your answer.
Instructions: Your answers should not regurgitate the conclusions of these articles, but rather analyse and critique their arguments. Your initial post should be at least 510 words. All posts should be supported by course readings using parenthetical references.
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric
50 points Initial Discussion Posting
The initial post is worth a maximum total of 50 points.
Contribution is posted by due date and demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the concepts presented by providing evidence from the material and references (with citations) to the readings and associated resources.
Contribution contains no spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. If audio post, contains no grammar or speaking errors.
Posting is made on time.
IRLS 503 | International Organisations
Lesson 1 | International Organisations: Introduction and Overview
Welcome to IRLS 503 International Organisations! This course examines the different ways in which nation-states have created order and organisation when it comes to their behaviour in the international system, with special emphasis on the functions and activities of international organisations (IOs).
The goal is for students to develop both a theoretical and practical understanding of IOs, the debates surrounding them, and the global problems they attempt to address. At the end of this course, you will be able to articulate theoretical explanations for why IOs exist, why they are thought to help solve global problems, and the major challenges IOs face in meeting their objectives.
In his 1977 book The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, Hedley Bull refers to the international system as an “anarchical society,” which, at first glance, appears to be somewhat of an oxymoron. Since then, many International Relations (IR) scholars and practitioners have echoed this term.
If we deconstruct it, we see that the international system has been called “anarchic” because there is no higher authority above individual states; it has been called a “society” because state behaviour is nonetheless influenced by norms, laws, and institutions that states create for themselves.
At the same time, there is much debate among scholars over the real importance of international institutions and rules, as well as the degree to which they bring order to the society of nation-states. On a more practical level, there is disagreement among policymakers in the United States and elsewhere over the extent to which governments should be constrained by rules and institutions as they carry out their foreign policies.
We will cover IOs that are the creation of states. These include organisations with a more general purpose (such as the United Nations), regional organisations (such as the European Union), as well as those with more specialised functions (such as NATO when it comes to security).
In addition, we will also cover nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), such as Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch, as well as less formal transnational networks. These latter types of IOs are created by private actors to serve the global public good.
As we begin our study of IOs, keep the following questions in mind:
Traditional international relations theories focus on interactions between nation-states and characterise the international system as anarchic. However, IOs have become more prominent players in the international system since World War II.
Nevertheless, there is a debate in both academic and policy communities over why international organisations exist, the extent to which they matter in global politics, and the conditions under which they can help alleviate global problems.
Feminism is one of the alternative theoretical perspectives in IR that has emerged since the end of the Cold War and the increased interdependence that has arisen from globalisation processes.
In general, feminist theory posits that the main players in IR – to include heads of state, policymakers, diplomats, and academics – have traditionally been, and continue to be, males from backgrounds in which the perspective of women tends to be devalued or ignored altogether.
As a result, discourse within the field of IR has tended to be constrained by a lack of consideration of women’s roles in world politics. Feminist theory advocates for a “gendered” perspective in IR, where the term gender, according to Thorburn (2000, 2),
“Refers to the complex social construction of men’s and women’s identities…[and] behaviours in relation to each other. Fundamental in the discourse on gender is the notion of power and power dynamics between genders.”
A feminist perspective to the study of IOs would therefore not simply focus on traditional IR conceptualisations of key issues but would incorporate a “gendered” lens when evaluating these issues and concepts.
For example, one of the main issue areas that IOs deal with is security, which, in traditional IR, is defined as protecting the state from other states.
A feminist perspective, however, would argue that security-focused IOs should also address acts of rape and physical violence, which tend to increase during times of war and conflict. It would also argue that issues of sex trafficking and labour migration, for example, are just as important as issues of war and security.
Overall, feminist theorists would advocate those normative perspectives and working vocabularies that are broad enough to accommodate issues that impact women are fundamentally important to the structure and functioning of IOs. Otherwise, they are ultimately ineffective.
The basic ideas, assumptions, and beliefs about the purpose and effectiveness of IOs, as we shall see over the course of our studies, varies according to which theoretical perspective we examine.
According to Thomas Hobbes, the state had no real institutional constraints and could – in effect – limit its power. Hobbes favored a monarchy. The monarch is more likely to understand and realise the public interest. Hobbes also argued that there should be one national church and that the civilian authority should have authority over the religious life of society.
This way the religious life can sustain the new civil society. It is important to note that – for Hobbes – once the act of consent to be ruled by a sovereign is given, citizens forfeit the right to challenge state policies.
In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli was concerned about getting and keeping power. To move the Italian states into the modern world, Machiavelli saw the need for a new kind of political ruler who could create political structures that meet the needs of the changing social and economic conditions.
There was a requirement to balance traditional civic virtue with individual liberty. Owing to the inherent corruptibility of humankind, Machiavelli worried that respect for traditional civic virtue would be hard to maintain. Machiavelli made clear that the prince must recognise that he can survive only as long as he serves the vital interests of the citizens. This was accomplished through the exercise of power.
In the twentieth century, Hans J. Morgenthau, motivated by Thucydides and Hobbes’ Leviathan, as well as his own personal experiences during World Wars I and II, embraced this view of international politics and human nature as deeply distrustful.
His 1948 book Politics Among Nations presented arguments against the use of ethics in foreign policy (including in U.S. foreign policy). Morgenthau, like other classical realist thinkers, conceived of international politics as a never-ending struggle for survival and security, which is motivated by fear and uncertainty.
At the same time, Morgenthau appreciated the role of norms and values in the construction of international peace and security. Often overlooked in his work is his emphasis on the importance of fostering mutual understanding among nation-states for averting a major war.
Within the realist perspective, then, the most important actor is the nation-state. International organisations are perceived as only marginal actors or as entities that represent the interests of a hegemonic power.
According to realism, “powerful states should prefer IOs designed to reflect the distribution of power rather than the rule of law” (Haftel and Thompson 2006, 14). Conversely, weaker states should favour IOs that are more independent and more capable of constraining the actions of more powerful states (Haftel and Thompson 2006, 14).
Realists, then, assume that international organisations only have any real force when strong states invest in them (Hurd 2008, 17)
From the liberal perspective, there is a range of relevant and purposeful global actors that includes states as well as international organisations.
There are issues beyond the traditional state concerns of security and self-defence. States are willing to enter into cooperative arrangements to advance common interest and promote the general welfare. The liberal perspective is also concerned with ensuring the rights of the individuals. Three of the noted theorists are:
As with Hobbes, Locke believed that civil society imposes limitations on citizens if individual rights are to be protected by civic virtue. However, Locke’s state must have limited powers so that it does not threaten the very basic rights it is supposed to protect.
For Locke, the scope of political power is far wider and its coercive abilities to ensure compliance more extensive than our traditional understanding of power. Political power enables the state to make laws that bind the whole of society in support of the public good.
Locke saw the state of nature far differently from Hobbes. People in a state of nature were rational creatures who were able to determine the reasonable constraints that govern people’s behaviour. It is the acceptance of certain moral restraints that are essential to protecting individual liberty.
Possessing freedom is contingent upon being able to own private property. The purpose of government in a civil society is to protect a citizen’s property which signifies the citizen’s basic rights and freedom.
For Locke government has limited power – quite the opposite of Hobbes’ view. The state arises from the unanimous consent of the people to be ruled by the majority – a majority constrained to respect the rights of all.
It was also Locke’s view that citizens living in a state that protected their liberties were expected to uphold the laws of that state. In Locke’s writings we see the basis of democratic principles enshrined in the American constitutional experience:
the rule of the majority
the concept of separated powers
the concept of an executive, legislative and federative powers.
There is less stress on the religious component in Locke’s writings, and more on the pursuit of material goals such as wealth and property.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his writings, was concerned with liberalism’s impact on the concept of community and the common good. Liberalism, for Rousseau, promoted self-interest and selfishness. For Rousseau, the Enlightenment fostered a civil society that equated the rule of law with the rule of materialism and greed.
As well as undermining the norms of civility and the common good. Politics should help to restore citizenship in particular respect for the community and for the traditions of civic virtue. Rousseau would create a civil society that was predicated upon direct citizen participation in shaping the law by which all live.
Rousseau believed that people are driven by two basic needs: a natural drive for self-preservation and the urge not to harm others. It progressed which turned society in the direction of political inequality by changing the nature of work and the introduction of private property.
The economic context of modern society allows those with superior skills to acquire control over others and to enhance class rule. The economic system’s worst tendencies could be countered through a form of civic education that taught individuals their duties and taught them to make love for their country primary.
In Rousseau’s civil society, each person learns to subordinate his own interest to the interests of the larger society and this conduct is the basis for treating individuals as equals. In this society, people share fundamental values.
The most important conditions that contribute to creating among citizens a sense of community sufficient to promote law-making activity would be the need to prevent divisions arising from differences in wealth and property.
Censorship is an important concept in Rousseau’s civil society. Rousseau seeks a society where the difference is minimised in the name of creating a context that would support the common and general will.
A civil society, in promoting difference, would undermine the new social contact. If people manifested values widely different from those generally held by the society, Rousseau argued that these people should be excluded from the society.
Immanuel Kant, another liberal philosopher, advocated the acceptance of a movement to a world community. Kant believed that the world was moving toward the acceptance of a liberal political system that protected the rights and freedoms of all and that peace could be achieved with the creation of this global community.
For the liberal theorists, then, international organisations make a major contribution to the global community. They allow for collective security and cooperative ventures in addressing problems and challenges facing the global community.
Another variant of liberal thought – neoliberal institutionalism – approaches international institutions from the perspective that they are “simple arenas within which states interact” (Haftel and Thompson 2006, 3).
Neoliberal institutionalists argue that even though “international organizations have little enforcement capacity,” they “can have an important effect on interstate outcomes” (Hurd 2008, 18). Neoliberal institutionalists believe IOs “begin life as solutions to coordination problems among states” (Hurd 2008, 18).
Both strong and weak states find IO membership useful because multilateral commitments make them better off (Hurd 2008). Neoliberal institutionalists measure the power of an international organisation by its ability to “reduce the costs of transactions among individual state actors” (Hurd 2008, 18).
IOs exist because they “allow states to reach utility levels that they could not reach without them” (Hurd 2008, 18).
Archer, Clive. 2001. International organisations, 3rd ed. London Routledge.
Diana Thorburn. 2000. “Feminism meets International Relations.” SAIS Review 20(2): 1-10.
Diehl, Paul F. 2005. The politics of global governance: International organisations in an interdependent world, 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publications. Introduction accessed at: http://hilltop.bradley.edu/~aspin/318www/Readings/diehl.pdf.
Ernst Haas, “Collective Legitimisation as a Political Function of the United Nations,” International Organisation 20 (1966): 36–379.
Haftel, Yoram Z., and Alexander Thompson. 2006. “The Independence of International Organisations: Concept and Applications.” The Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(2): 253–75.
Harold Jacobson, Networks of Interdependence, 2nd edition (New York: Random House, 1984), pp. 11–13.
Hurd, Ian. 2008. After Anarchy: Legitimacy and Power in the United Nations Security Council. Princeton, NJ. USA: Princeton University Press.
Judge, Anthony J.N. 1995. “Types of international organisation” at http://www.uia.org/uiadocs/orgtypec.htm.
Goodrich, Leland. “From League of Nations to United Nations,” International Organisation 1(1947): 3–21.
Wallace, Michael and David Singer. “Intergovernmental organisations and the preservation of peace, 1918-1964.” International Organisation 24/3: 520-47.