Actual take home essay on theoriests.docx

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International Relations
CAS IR 373
Henrik Selin

Theorists’take on IGOs and International Law Global governance is the use of and participation in Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and international law in order to deal with issues of importance. Three theories as to why the world functions within and abides by global governance are realism, liberalism, and critical theory. As global governance is highly contested and offers a wide variety of interpretations, each theory contains many sub theories of nuanced thought and provides its own explanation for why states decide to use global governance today. The purpose of theorizing is to derive meaning from current events and attempt to predict how the future might unfold. Due to the vagaries of prediction, each theory has both correctly and incorrectly guessed future events in global governance. Realists operate under the assumption that states are the most important actors in international affairs, and therefore global governance. As such, realists believe that IGOs and international law plays little part in global affairs, since states would gladly break international law and avoid negotiation within IGOs if their interests were threated, even go to war to defend themselves or advance their own aims. At its core, realists believe that is natural for states to be selfish and to act in its own interest in order to attain dominance, to the point of war. The power struggle climaxes in a balance of power, where states attain power through militarism and acquisition of equitable offensive capabilities. Realists do not believe in the idea of collective security, since collective security puts the lives of foreigners above the lives of a state’s own citizens. With reference to international law, Michael J. Glennon argues that states put forth laws which already benefit themselves: “it’s often impossible to separate self-interested behavior from 1 behavior caused by legal requirements.” This is the reason realists do not put stock in international law: it is moot and does not bind any one state to different norms. And if it does, states will ignore it because there is no punishment in place to prevent such action. There are three sub theories in realism. The first is neorealism. Neorealism expands on the ideas of realism, citing that the world is a zero sum game; that one country’s gain is another country’s loss. Asecond branch of realism is the hegemonic stability theory. In this theory, world peace is preferable to war and maintained by the military dominance of a hegemon. Realists believe that this hegemon keeps the peace not because it is better for the world, but because the hegemon itself benefits from peace more than it would benefit from war. Athird branch off of realism is the strategic rational choice theory. This theory is realism’s decision making theory where the pros and cons of an action are considered. Of course, this theory is based on guesswork, as no one can know for certain the outcome of a certain action. Like realists, liberals believe that states are key actors within global governance. While realists view states as selfish actors, liberals view states as optimists, law abiding and capable of cooperation in order to settle disputes through negotiations and discussions rather than through war. Liberals recognize that the world is becoming more interdependent, thus necessitating a stage to discuss global affairs. Therefore, liberals do not underestimate the importance of IGOs in global governance. IGOs help build relationships among states, which begins to build trust among participating states. Anne-Marie Slaughter also notes that within an IGO, “any individual state risks a “Sucker’s payoff” if it acts cooperatively and 2 other states do not.” Such neoliberal institutionalists cite the prisoner’s dilemma as a potential weakness in interdependence, but stresses that the more states build trust and follow through on promises, the stronger international cooperation will be and will lower the chances of war breaking out. Functionalism 1 Glennon, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” 48 2 Slaughter, “Leading Through Law,” 40 1 Theorists’take on IGOs and International Law is supportive of IGOs in fulfilling the basic functions of each state. Organizations such as International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the International Postal Union fulfill the basic needs of states’citizens and thus begin a relationship of trust among states, both in one another and in these IGOs, which can branch out into more important topics. These relationships do not only extend politically, but also economically. If two or more states share economic ties, the cost of the states going to war increases because they lose the economic benefit of cooperation. Public goods theory reasons that states participate in global governance in order to protect goods which are not under any single country’s jurisdiction; for example, the management of international waters. All states benefit from this form of international law, yet it is not the law of a single sovereign and is therefore a form of global governance. International regimes theory explains why IGOs and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) include not just economic and military relationships, but relationships centered on issues such as the environment, human rights, protection of wildlife and much more. International regimes theory certainly solidifies the relationships among countries because these issues affect people, no matter what state they are from. Bonds of people across borders creep up through the ranks, creating bonds among politicians of different states and eventually can link states’ bonds because of similar stances on the issues taken by IGOs and NGOs. Collective security is a way liberals go about ensuring peace as opposed to the competitive system of balance of power. In collective security, all states act out against an aggressor. What defines an aggressor has changed over time; this, liberals have accepted over time. Critical theory is an amalgamation of theories criticizing both realist and liberalist interpretation of global governance. By name, critical theories are critical of the popular theories, preferring to strive to explain global governance in different terms. Three such theories are critical of both realists’and liberals’ focus on military power. Marxism, dependency theory, and world systems theory suggest that economic power is more prevalent in influencing global governance and impacting world affairs than military power, especially in recent times. Each depicts an economic group which dominates and manipulates the economic wealth in the world to service its own aims. Marxism centers on an economic elite which takes advantage of the poorer citizens of the world
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