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Chapter

14. The politics of international law  

Continuity and change

This chapter draws together the key themes of this book, using contemporary debates over the nature and future of international order, and explores likely sources of continuity and change in the politics of international law. It begins by expanding on the concept of international order and, more specifically, the so-called liberal international order that has framed international politics in the postwar period. The chapter asks whether and why the liberal international order is in crisis and how it is likely to evolve. It then turns to the rise of non-Western powers, a phenomenon that many observers have argued is contributing to the crisis of the current order. The focus is on what the changing balance of material power may reveal about the present and future of international law. Finally, the chapter offers some tentative conclusions about the politics of international law two decades into the twenty-first century.

Chapter

This chapter examines traditional theories in global politics. Although much of the explicit theorizing about international politics did not begin until the twentieth century, both liberalism and realism have drawn on long-standing ideas in the history of political thought to address basic problems of international order. So too has the English School which, while encompassing aspects of both liberalism and realism, has focused much more attention on the social character of international or global relations, elaborating in particular the notion of international society and its normative underpinnings. While most theorizing has been carried out largely, but not exclusively, on the basis of Western philosophical ideas, a new Chinese school of moral realism draws from ancient Chinese thought. Ultimately, both liberalism and realism have been modified over the years with competing strands developing within them, so neither can be taken as a single body of theory.

Chapter

This chapter discusses what is often regarded as the central institution, not only of domestic or national political order but also of current international or global order—the state. Alongside the state, we must also consider the idea of the nation and the ideology of nationalism—perhaps the most powerful political ideology to emerge in the modern world. There is, however, another form of international political order that has actually been far more common throughout history, and that is empire. With the rise of modernity from around the beginning of the seventeenth century, we also encounter the rise of the modern state and state system in Europe along with ideas about sovereignty, citizenship, the nation-state, and democracy. The chapter then looks at the effective globalization of the European state system through modern imperialism and colonialism and the extent to which these have been productive of contemporary global order.

Chapter

This chapter examines the field of political economy from a historical, comparative, and international perspective, focusing on how ideas, practices, and institutions develop and interact over place and time. It first provides an overview of political economy as a field of study before discussing some important theories such as Marxism, liberalism, and economic nationalism. It then considers key issues such as the interaction of states and markets and the North–South divide, along with Karl Marx's critique of international political economy (IPE). It also explores the post-war international economic order and the twin phenomena of globalization and regionalization in the post-Cold War era before concluding with an analysis of the ‘boom and bust’ episodes in the global capitalist economy such as the global financial crisis of 2008.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on human rights, a perfect topic through which to study the interaction between law and politics in international relations. The topic of human rights offers a microcosm of the clashes and contradictions between realism and idealism, legal principles and political expediencies, state and non-state actors, and collective and individual rights, which characterize international order. The chapter defines human rights and outlines their international legal framework. The chapter then traces the postwar evolution of international human rights law (IHRL). It explains how, by the late twentieth century, the concept of human rights had captured the global imagination. It also explores the international political context in which the rise of human rights took place, including decolonization and the explosion in rights-based civil society activism in the 1970s. Finally, the chapter analyses the efficacy of IHRL in a world of sovereign states, before assessing the cultural relativist critique of human rights, which challenges their claim to universality, often from the perspective of postcolonial societies.

Book

John W. Young and John Kent

International Relations Since 1945 provides a comprehensive introduction to global political history since World War II. The text has been comprehensively updated to cover the period between 2001 and 2012. Discussing the World Trade Center bombing and concluding with the run-up to the 2012 US presidential elections, a new final section outlines broad developments including the changing world order and the global financial crisis. Three new chapters look at terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rise of major new powers, including China. Student learning is supported by a range of helpful learning features, including biographies of key figures and chronologies of events.

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This chapter examines the landmark series of negotiations between Arabs and Israelis in the early 1990s, culminating in the Oslo accords (1993), which marked the first and so far, the only sustained effort at peaceful resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict. These events, which dominated the regional panorama and captured the international imagination, assist one's understanding not only of the nature and direction of Middle East politics, but also their positioning within the emerging international order as outlined by then US President George H. W. Bush. At first, it seemed that the accords, in reconciling the two major parties to the conflict — the Israelis and the Palestinians — were a demonstration of an emerging and more liberal international system. Yet the fragility of this system, in the Middle East as elsewhere, was soon exposed.

Book

Edited by Michael Cox and Doug Stokes

US Foreign Policy provides a perspective on US foreign policy that is critical and connected. This text aims to help with the critically assessment of US foreign policy, presenting the reader with diverse political perspectives and giving them the tools to come to their own conclusions. Carefully developed ‘major debates’ and ‘controversies’ features help readers to connect theory with the real-world politics. As policy continues to change before our eyes, the text provides an overview of America’s ever-changing role in international politics. This new edition reflects the legacy of the Obama administration, the unfurling impacts of President Donald Trump, and the American role in world affairs. It includes new chapters on gender, religion, East Asia, and the Liberal International Order.

Chapter

This chapter addresses the intersection of international law and international politics as it relates to global trade. To study global economic governance is to study international law, international relations, and international political economy (IPE) all at once. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to IPE, a discipline which seeks to understand the workings of the global economy in its political context. It examines the relationship between economic globalization and state sovereignty, before turning to the construction of the postwar global economic order, with a focus on the Bretton Woods institutions. The postwar global economic order has often been described as ‘liberal’ by virtue of its underlying assumptions and the ideological convictions of its framers. Importantly, the postwar liberal order was built by, and for, the developed countries of the Global North-a fact that has informed critiques emanating from the developing countries of the Global South. The chapter then assesses global trade governance, analysing the structure, powers, and role of the World Trade Organization.

Book

Georg Sørensen, Jørgen Møller, and Robert Jackson

Introduction to International Relations provides a concise introduction to the principal international relations theories and approaches, and explores how theory can be used to analyse contemporary issues. Throughout the text, the chapters encourage readers to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the theories presented, and the major points of contention between them. In so doing, the text helps the reader to build a clear understanding of how major theoretical debates link up with each other, and how the structure of the discipline of international relations is established. The book places a strong emphasis throughout on the relationship between theory and practice, carefully explaining how theories organize and shape our view of the world. It also shows how a historical perspective can often refine theories and provide a frame of reference for contemporary problems of international relations. Topics include realism, liberalism, International Society, International Political Economy, social constructivism, post-positivism in international relations, major issues in IPE and IR, foreign policy, and world order. Each chapter ends by discussing how different theories have attempted to integrate or combine international and domfactors in their explanatory frameworks. The final part of the book is dedicated to major global issues and how theory can be used as a tool to analyse and interpret these issues. The text is accompanied by online resources, which include: short case studies, review questions, annotated web links, and a flashcard glossary.

Chapter

This chapter considers future prospects for US foreign policy on the basis of long-established patterns and other factors such as the interests and ideology of elites, the structures of political life, the country’s real or perceived national interests, and the increasingly troubled domestic scene. It first examines the ideological roots of US foreign policy before discussing some of the major contemporary challenges for US foreign policy, including relations with China, US military power, and the US political order. It then describes the basic contours of US foreign policy over the next generation with respect to the Middle East, the Far East, Russia, Europe and the transatlantic relationship, climate change, and international trade. It also presents catastrophic scenarios for American foreign policy and argues that there will no fundamental change in US global strategy whichever of the two dominant political parties is in power.

Chapter

This chapter explores the international monetary and financial system, which plays a central role in the global political economy (GPE). Since the late nineteenth century, the nature of this system has undergone several pivotal transformations in response to changing political and economic conditions at both domestic and international levels. The first was the collapse of the integrated pre-1914 international monetary and financial regime during the interwar years. The second transformation took place after the Second World War, when the Bretton Woods order was put in place. Since the early 1970s, various features of the Bretton Woods order have unravelled with the globalization of finance, the collapse of the gold exchange standard, and the breakdown of the adjustable peg exchange rate regime. These changes have important political consequences for the key issue of who gets what, when, and how in the GPE.

Chapter

This chapter examines the liberal tradition in international relations (IR). It first considers the basic liberal assumptions, including a positive view of human nature and the belief that IR can be cooperative rather than conflictual. In their conceptions of international cooperation, liberal theorists emphasize different features of world politics. The chapter explores the ideas associated with four strands of liberal thought, namely: sociological liberalism, interdependence liberalism, institutional liberalism, and republican liberalism. It also discusses the debate between proponents of liberalism and neorealism, and it identifies a general distinction between weak liberal theories that are close to neorealism and strong liberal theories that challenge neorealism. Finally, it reviews the liberal view of world order and the notion that there is a ‘dark’ side of democracy.

Chapter

This chapter addresses the nature of international organizations and how they are generally theorized as participants in global politics and then reviews the rise of international organizations from a historical perspective, with particular reference to developments from the nineteenth century onwards. It also discusses the major intergovernmental institutions that emerged in the twentieth century and which have played such an important role in shaping global order. The chapter briefly looks at the League of Nations but most attention is given to its successor, the United Nations (UN), and its various appendages. It then examines the world of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Some of these NGOs possess significant status in the global sphere, others have little relevance, and still others pose dangers. Finally, the chapter considers social movements and their relationship to the contemporary world of international organizations along with the idea of global civil society. In reviewing these institutions, actors, and ideas, we should keep in mind that liberal international theory, especially in the form of liberal institutionalism, as well as proponents of international society, regard robust international organizations as essential building blocks of global order.

Chapter

This chapter examines the characteristics of contemporary globalization and how they are reshaping world politics. It explains why globalization challenges some of our traditional ways of thinking and theorizing about world politics. It asks whether there are limits to globalization or whether it is inevitable. It also considers the extent to which globalization is responsible for the emerging shift in the structure of world power, namely the ‘decline of the West’ and the ‘rise of the rest’. Two case studies are presented: one is about the iPhone and the iPad, and illustrates the implications of global production networks for national economic sovereignty; the other is about the global recycling system. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that tackles the question of whether globalization is eroding the power of the state.