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Foreign PolicyTheories, Actors, Cases

Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases (3rd edn)

Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne
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date: 28 September 2023

p. 24213. Duties beyond borderslocked

p. 24213. Duties beyond borderslocked

  • Michael Barnett


This chapter examines the concept of duties beyond borders and its implications for the practice of foreign policy. More specifically, it considers why states proclaim duties to those beyond their borders as well as the apparent expansion of those duties over the last two decades. After explaining what is meant by duties beyond borders and how it relates to the concepts of sovereignty and cosmopolitanism, the chapter explores how realist, liberal, constructivist, and decision-making theories account for the existence and expansion of these duties. It also describes why states failed to halt the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and intervened in Libya in 2011, but not in Syria. It also analyses the growing tension between a foreign policy defined by realpolitik and a foreign policy that is increasingly affected and defined by intensifying interdependence in a range of issues and transnational connections between peoples.

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