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Lecture 22

POL208Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 22: Infant Mortality, Cultural Relativism, Asian Values

Political Science
Course Code
Lilach Gilady

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Non-State Actors
NGO’s and IR
- Is the state still the most important actor in international relations?
- Are we going ‘back to the future’?
oTime before the state
oBefore supremacy of the state
oMore complex type of international relations
NGO’s: not a new phenomenon
- Environmental NGO’s start to play en important international role in the mid
- John Muir – the Sierra Club (1901)  environmental NGO
- Greenpeace – the Rainbow Warrior
o1958 sunk by French agents
o1987 France agrees to pay $8.16 million compensation to Greenpeace
oProactive; provocative; media savvy; non-compromising;
environmental should always come first
- NGOs receive an official status of active observers (Rio 1992)
oSustainable development summit
oNGOs were able to observe, give opinions but cannot vote
oUnderdeveloped countries can get expertise from NGOs to get help
from NGOs
oHow much weight we give is a matter of judgement
NGOs: Critique
- Are NGOs more democratic?
oNot accountable to the greater majority
oMore extreme in their positions than the majority because they are
oNot necessarily representing society as a whole
oIs there a mechanism that tells us how much weight we should give
each NGO?
- Funding?
- The Survival of the Cutest
- What is the goal? (Replace the state; monitor the state; advocate for action)
- International civil society?
oActivities not part of the state but part of ‘texture’ which creates
Human Rights NGOs
- NGOs become prominent when the formal state system seems to be unable to
deal with specific challenges
- Amnesty International – (1961) letter writing; prisoners of conscience; 1977
Nobel Peace Prize; annual report; broadened agenda
- Human Rights Watch – (1978) started as the Helsinki Watch; since 1998 all
‘Watches’ are united under the HRW
oStarted during the Cold War
oRecognizes Soviet control in Eastern Europe
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Non-State Actors
oBut in return, the Soviets signed agreement that would put human
rights on the table
oSoviets now have accepted human rights  can start blaming and
shaming them
Why Is It Difficult to Deal with Human Rights in IR?
- Sovereignty
- In the absence of sovereignty you cannot discuss intervention
- Since human rights are traditionally within the sovereign domain of
oCountries has the right to set their own policies about human rights
within their own countries
oOutside intervention can constrain ability of states to do whatever
they want in their state
oChallenge to concept of sovereignty
Human Rights as Part of Foreign Policy
- Human rights should be included in foreign policy
oOr not because of issue of sovereignty
- Human rights should be included in foreign policy:
oA moral argument  human rights should included because it’s the
right thing to do; cannot sit aside while people are being killed,
tortured; its an important thing to do
oLegal obligations  international law recognizes certain basic norms
that protect human rights; agreements codify certain human rights;
R2P creates legal obligation to do something
oThe Liberal argument: what happens inside the state is mirrored in its
foreign policy
What happens within the state will happen outside the state 
if we allow states to behave unchecked, country will become a
problem (Nazi Germany)
oA political/functional argument  human rights violations 
destabilization  intervention  conflict
- There is no inherent contradiction between human rights and national
- Human rights should NOT be included in foreign policy:
oWestphalia 1648: debate on who gets to set the religion in each state
Allows ruler to chose policies for their own state
Institutionalized in order to protect people’s rights and
prevent greater conflict  break this structure  may lead to
one of the deadliest conflicts in history
oMorgenthau: the autonomy of the political sphere
What does international relations look like?  view things as
they are not as they should be
Start being blind to what is actually happening
Includes difficult compromises and decisions
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