International Relations: The Key Concepts


International Relations refer to the study of relations among various states and other economic and political units in an international system. Some of the specific areas which are studied under international Studies include diplomatic history, diplomacy, international economic and finance, international organizations, international law, communication e.t.c. In the most recent years, there has been an increased attention in the development of a more scientific comprehension of the international system in general. International Relations is a definable and separate discipline which dates from the early 20th Century. This was the time organized efforts were first developed in seeking for alternatives to wars in the international behavior of the nation states. It was therefore through this initiative that two schools of thought were established; one school of thought looked at strengthening international organizations and international law in order to preserve and promote peace. On the other hand, the other school of thought emphasized that States will always use their power in order to achieve their set goals and sees a balance of power as a key to peace among various competing States. With a view of improving the applicability and verifiability of theories, there has been an increase in the use of modes and concepts of analysis established in the natural sciences. Various academic institutions have also established Schools of International Relations and research Institutes in their midst. In general, the first know use of International relations was in 1880 (Janis, 21).

There has been a strong influence in the study of International Relations through normative considerations like for instance the aim of increasing international relations and reduction of armed conflict in various States. Issues like ethnic and religious conflict, terrorism and the establishment of non-state and sub-state entities, efforts in countering nuclear proliferation, spread of weapons of mass destruction and the establishment of international institutions were focused on during the start of the 21st century. Human Rights practices in various countries across the world are currently no longer viewed to be domestic political issues. This is because after the end of the Second World War, a complex system comprising of international institutions and international laws was developed with an aim of regulating the practices of Human Rights in various States all over the world. International Human Rights Law therefore has a great impact on the behavior of various states because of its intervention. Economic globalization is therefore essential and good for Human Rights.

Why International Relations is Important

With the evolvement and reshaping of the political world, various distinctive and important changes have occurred, chief among them the end of the WWII and the Cold War in 1989. International Relations has necessitated the need for the establishment of more effective foundations for relations between States and International Politics in which International Institutions are required to observe a liberal approach towards issues of governance through institutionalism as being the most direct perspective. The formation of the United Nations, for instance, led to the establishment of various international organizations which connected the nation states together with other independent non-governmental agencies. This led to the general improvement and security of the world community (Taylor, 1).

The general quality of human life has therefore been globally been enhanced as a result of various international alliances, treaties and regimes which were formed within the global economy. The formation of liberal institutionalism has further led to greater emphasis on the importance of international regimes and organizations in the global economy like for instance, NATO, the UN, the World Bank, IMF among others. Regimes, on the other hand, includes the values, norms and principles coupled with procedures for decision making through which actors comprising of nation states and other international organizations have to abide by. One example of a guideline which members of the United Nations have to abide by is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   

In any Global society, International relations play exceptionally important roles of citizenship. The importance of cooperative and peaceful relationships among various states is important due to the rapid use of communication technology, air transport and an economy that is internationally complex. The maintenance of established agreements and treaties among various states ensures peace in various States and reduces armed conflict among neighbors. Positive international relations are known to promote efficient trade policies among various states thus improving the economy of such states. The requirements and limitations of trade between borders are also defined through international relations. International relations also plays a vital role in ascertaining border control policies thus ensuring there is effective movement of people and goods over international border or immigration of individuals in other countries (Griffiths, et al, 11).  

In order for States to cooperate effectively and meet challenges arising from global issues such as terrorism, pandemics and concerns over the environment, then sound international relations are key to the achievement of such objectives. This is because States will be able to share vital information and pool together their resources to counter these issues. Apart from controlling and regulating the flow of information and goods among various States, International Relations also promote the advancement of culture for various people in a general manner. Enlightened international policies ensure that there is promotion of the diverse world cultures through various programs like cultural exhibitions and student exchanges. This greatly enhances people’s understanding of varied human expression in the globe (Hayden, 200).

Weaknesses of International Relations

International relations have been viewed to be an effort by NATO to expand and extend the Western influence beyond the United States of America’s Sphere. This is evident from a debate on NATO expansionist strategies and from a real perspective. It has therefore been argued that some International Relations are meant to protect the interests of the Mighty and powerful countries at the expense of the less powerful. The creation of some international relations agencies and organizations has therefore been seen to serve personal and material interests of the big nations at the expense of the less powerful countries. NATO, for instance, has been accused of serving the interests of the United States of America through dictating governance issue in other countries all over the world. The domination of some countries over others has led to rivalry among various States and thus leading to wars. International Relations are therefore seen as Realism through which self interested States struggle for power.

International relations are on the other hand, known for encouraging on the power of some states through limiting their ability to make decisions regarding some policies like for instance going to war.  International Relations have failed despite being an intellectual project because of wrong or poor management. For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has accused the International Organization and its administration of supporting an agricultural development model which is ant ethical towards the growth of the private sector and thus inhibiting the general economic development or growth in Third World Nations. The provision of abundant liquidity to nations which are debt-ridden creates a moral hazard through presenting the debtors with a few incentives in promotion of economic changes. The ability and capability of international relations towards multilateral management in the stabilization of international relations have failed in some countries and resulted in conflicts and wars.  Failure by international relations in the management of tightly coupled and tight systems of issues and relations has created negative impacts on some States (Weber, 150)

Response to Opposing views

International Relations cannot be blamed on the problems facing some countries in the world. This is because such problems are attributed towards the individual country’s failure to abide by the set guidelines in international relations thus going against the laid policies. In most circumstances International Relations have always been reluctant in intervening in situations through which some states failed in observing the laid down guidelines regarding specific issues. International Relations have however played a vital role in circumstances which it deems fit to intervene. The failure by individual States should therefore not be attributed to International Relations.

However, the provision of liquidity to countries which are debt-ridden is a moral hazard because it doesn’t in any way help because they make such countries become lazy and become unable to stand on their own. Provision of liquidity to such countries should therefore be discouraged by International Relations to ensure that such countries learn to fend for themselves and become independent. Failure to do this by International Relations is seen as an attempt by the West to weaken Third World Countries and limit their economic growth (Murthy, 170).


International Relations and Foreign policy are important for peaceful coexistence among various States. Without International, then the human race could become extinct in the next 50 years. International Relations are vital in countering with the various challenges that face the human race like for instance nuclear weapons and threats posed by terror.  International relations are important because it is through them that issues to do with global justice, human rights and humanitarian interventions are well addressed. International relations should be encouraged because they aid individual counties in dealing with countries which they could not otherwise have handled individually. International intervention is therefore important in dealing with individual challenges faced by a certain country.

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