International relations by Proffesor Anh Tho Andres from Globe Ethics

Written by Proff.Anh Tho Andres

International Relations (IR) (occasionally referred to as International studies (IS), although the two terms are not perfectly synonymous) is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs).

It is both an academic and public policy field, and can be either positive or normative as it both seeks to analyze as well as formulate the foreign policy of particular states. It is often considered a branch of political science (especially after 1988 UNESCO nomenclature), but an important sector of academia prefer to treat it as an interdisciplinary field of study. Aspects of international relations have been studied for thousands of years, since the time of Thucydides, but IR became a separate and definable discipline in the early 20th century.[1]

Apart from political science, IR draws upon such diverse fields as technology; engineering; economics, history, international law, philosophy, geography, social work, sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology, gender studies, and cultural studies / culturology.

It involves a diverse range of issues including but not limited to: globalization, state sovereignty, international security, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, global finance, terrorism, organized crime, human security, foreign interventionism and human rights.


The history of international relations based on sovereign states is often traced back to the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, a stepping stone in the development of the modern state system. Prior to this, the European medieval organization of political authority was based on a vaguely hierarchical religious order. Contrary to popular belief, Westphalia still embodied layered systems of sovereignty, especially within the Holy Roman Empire.[3] More than the Peace of Westphalia, the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 is thought to reflect an emerging norm that sovereigns had no internal equals within a defined territory and no external superiors as the ultimate authority within the territory’s sovereign borders.

What is explicitly recognized as international relations theory was not developed until after World War I, and is dealt with in more detail below.

IR theory, however, has a long tradition of drawing on the work of other social sciences. The use of capitalizations of the “I” and “R” in International Relations aims to distinguish the academic discipline of International Relations from the phenomena of international relations. Many cite Sun Tzu‘s The Art of War (6th century BC), Thucydides‘ History of the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC), Chanakya‘s Arthashastra (4th century BC), as the inspiration for realist theory, with Hobbes‘ Leviathan and Machiavelli‘s The Prince providing further elaboration.

Similarly, liberalism draws upon the work of Kant and Rousseau, with the work of the former often being cited as the first elaboration of democratic peace theory. Though contemporary human rights is considerably different than the type of rights envisioned under natural law, Francisco de Vitoria, Hugo Grotius and John Locke offered the first accounts of universal entitlement to certain rights on the basis of common humanity. In the twentieth century, in addition to contemporary theories of liberal internationalism, Marxism has been a foundation of international relations.

Initially, international relations as a distinct field of study was almost entirely British-centered. IR only emerged as a formal academic ‘discipline’ in 1918 with the founding of the first ‘chair’ (professorship) in IR – the Woodrow Wilson Chair at Aberystwyth, University of Wales (now Aberystwyth University[4]), from an endowment given by David Davies, became the first academic position dedicated to IR.

This was rapidly followed by establishment of IR at US universities and Geneva, Switzerland.

In the early 1920s, the London School of Economics‘ department of International Relations was founded at the behest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Philip Noel-Baker, and was the first institute to offer a wide range of degrees in the field. Furthermore, the International History department at LSE, developed as primarily focused on the history of IR in the early modern, colonial and Cold War periods.

Study of IR

The first university entirely dedicated to the study of IR was the Graduate Institute of International Studies (now the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies), which was founded in 1927 to form diplomats associated to the League of Nations, established in Geneva some years before.

The Graduate Institute of International Studies offered one of the first Ph.D. degrees in international relations. Georgetown University‘s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service is the oldest international relations faculty in the United States, founded in 1919.

The Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago was the first to offer a graduate degree, in 1928.Now Universities in USA;UK; Europe;India;Australia;Canada;Africa;Russia offer Graduate;Post-Graduate&PhD degrees in IR.

Systemic tools of IR

  • Diplomacyis the practice of communication and negotiation between representatives of states. To some extent, all other tools of international relations can be considered the failure of diplomacy. Keeping in mind, the use of other tools are part of the communication and negotiation inherent within diplomacy. Sanctions, force, and adjusting trade regulations, while not typically considered part of diplomacy, are actually valuable tools in the interest of leverage and placement in negotiations.
  • Sanctionsare usually a first resort after the failure of diplomacy, and are one of the main tools used to enforce treaties. They can take the form of diplomatic or economic sanctions and involve the cutting of ties and imposition of barriers to communication or trade.
  • War, the use of force, is often thought of as the ultimate tool of international relations. A widely accepted definition is that given by Clausewitz, with war being “the continuation of politics by other means”. There is a growing study into ‘new wars’ involving actors other than states. The study of war in International Relations is covered by the disciplines of ‘War Studies‘ and ‘Strategic studies‘.
  • The mobilization of international shame can also be thought of as a tool of international relations. This is attempting to alter states’ actions through ‘naming and shaming‘ at the international level. This is mostly done by the large human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International (for instance when it called Guantanamo Bay a “Gulag”),[9]or Human Rights Watch. A prominent use of was the UN Commission on Human Rights 1235 procedure, which publicly exposes state’s human rights violations. The current Human Rights Council has yet to use this Mechanism
  • The allotment of economic and/or diplomatic benefits. An example of this is the European Union‘s enlargement policy. Candidate countries are allowed entry into the EU only after the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria.

Generalist inter-state organisations

United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization that describes itself as a “global association of governments facilitating co-operation in international lawinternational securityeconomic development, and social equity”; It is the most prominent international institution. Many of the legal institutions follow the same organizational structure as the UN.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is an international organization consisting of 57 member states. The organisation attempts to be the collective voice of the Muslim world (Ummah) and attempts to safeguard the interests and ensure the progress and well-being of Muslims.


Other generalist inter-state organizations include:

Economic institutions

International legal bodies

Human rights


Regional security arrangements



  • Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations(2011)
  • Mingst, Karen A., and Ivan M. Arreguín-Toft. Essentials of International Relations(5th ed. 2010)
  • Nau, Henry R. Perspectives on International Relations: Power, Institutions, Ideas(2008)
  • Roskin, Michael G., and Nicholas O. Berry. IR: The New World of International Relations(8th ed. 2009)


(Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

For the academic journal, see International Relations (journal).

See also: Foreign policy and Politics


Other references (my own collection)

  • Essentials of International Relations, Norton , 1998, Author Karen Mingst, ISBN 0-393-97287-9
  • Basic Facts about the UN, ISBN 92-1-100570-1, UN publications, 1995
  • La Nouvelle Organisation mondiale du Commerce, IFRI, 1995, ISBN 2-10-0026135
  • Introduction à la politique économique, Jacques Généreux, éditions Economie, Seuil, 1999, ISBN 2-02-039651-3
  • Sortir le Droit International du Placard, M. et R. Veyl, CETIM, isbn 978-2-88053-070-9
  • Les Empires Coloniaux Européens, 1815-1919, Folio Histoire inédit, Henri Wesseling, Gallimard, 2009, ISBN 978-2-07-036450 (orig. European Colonial Empires 1815-1919, Pearson 2004, original version Dutch)
  • Histoire de la Décolonisation au XXe s., Bernard Droz, Seuil, 2006. ISBN 9782-7578-1217-4

Bibliography on International Trade Law

  • Braithwaite, John (2000). Global Business Regulation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 704 pages. ISBN 0521780330.
  • Clendenning, Robert J. (1997). Analyse des mécanismes de règlement des différents commerciaux internationaux et conséquences pour l’Accord canadien sur le commerce extérieur. Ottawa, Industrie Canada, Document hors série #19, 65 pages. ISBN 0662632257.
  • Correa, Carlos Maria, Yusuf, Abdulqawi (1998). Intellectual Property and International trade the TRIPs Agreement. London, Kluwer Law International, 469 pages. ISBN 904110707X.
  • Deblock, Christian (eds) (2002). L’Organisation mondiale du commerce: Où s’en va la mondialisation ? Montréal, Éditions Fides, 298 pages. ISBN 2-7621-2470-0.
  • Dennin, Joseph F. (2003). Law & Practice of the World Trade Organization. New York, Oceana Publication. ISBN 0379213583.
  • Devlin, R. and Estevadeordal, A.(2001). “What’s New in the New Regionalism in the Americas?” Inter-American Development Bank, Working Paper 6, 49 p.
  • Jackson, John Woward (1998). The World Trade Organization: Constitution and Jurisprudence. London, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 193 pages. ISBN 1855673533.
  • Jackson, John Woward (2000). The Jurisprudence of GATT and the WTO: Insights on Treaty Law and Economic Relations. Cambridge (England), Cambridge University Press, 497 pages. ISBN 0521620562.
  • Hart, Michael M. (2003). A Trading Nation: Trade Policy from Colonialism to Globalization. Vancouver, University of British Columbia Press.
  • Hart, Michael M., Dymond, William A. (2002). NAFTA Chapter 11: Precedents, Principles and Prospects. (non publié). Carlton University :
  • Ritchie Dawson, Laura (eds) (2003). Whose Rights ? The NAFTA 11 Chapter Debate.
  • Messerlin, Patrick A. (1995). La nouvelle organisation mondiale du commerce. Paris, Dunod, 368 pages. ISBN 2100026135.
  • Mistelis, Loukas A. (2001). Foundations and Perspectives of International Trade Law. London, Sweet & Maxwell, 567 pages. ISBN 0421741007.
  • Pace, Virgile (2000). L’Organisation mondiale du commerce et le renforcement de la réglementation juridique des échanges internationaux. Paris, Harmattan, 480 pages. ISBN 27384877610.
  • Trebicock, Michael J., Howse, Robert (1999). The Regulation of International Trade. London, Routledge, 612 pages. ISBN 041518498.



USEFUL information in IR


Definition: BRIC is an acronym that refers to the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, which are seen as major developing economies in the world. According to Forbes, “The general consensus is that the term was first prominently used in a Goldman Sachs report from 2003, which speculated that by 2050 these four economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers.”

In March 2012, South Africa appeared to join BRIC, which thus became BRICS. At that time, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in India to discuss the formation of a development bank to pool resources. At that point, the BRIC countries were responsible for about 18% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product and were home to 40% of the earth’s population. It would appear that Mexico (part of BRIMC) and South Korea (part of BRICK) was not included in the discussion.

Key Indicators and Statistics

Economic Growth and Development of the BRICs

From 2000 to 2008, the BRIC countries’ combined share of total world economic output rose from 16 to 22 percent. Together, the BRIC countries accounted for 30 percent of the increase in global output during the period.

To date, the scale of China’s economy and pace of its development has out-distanced those of its BRIC peers. China alone contributed more than half of the BRIC countries’ share and greater than 15 percent of the growth in world economic output from 2000 to 2008. The chart above on key development indicators for the BRIC countries shows the sharp contrast in GDP, merchandise exports and the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) between China and the other BRIC countries.

Pronunciation: Brick

Also Known As: BRIMC – Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, and China.

Alternate Spellings: BRIC, BRICS, BRIMC, BRIMCS (?)

The BRICS countries include more than 40% of the world’s population and occupy over a quarter of the world’s land area. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa together are a powerful economic force.

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