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International Relations Definition

One can better define International Relations if one clarifies in which aspect it is required
to be defined. International Relations is beyond a comprehensive definition because of its
multidimensional approaches. Scholars however devised their own kinds of definitions
depicting the sense in which they take IR. As Palmer and Perkins used these words to
define IR;
"International Relations is the objective and systematic study of international life in
all its aspects."
This is a relatively general definition yet beyond the width of International Relations as a
discipline.
Central Point of all Efforts made to define International Relations
in nearly all definitions proposed for International Relations, scholars share one point in
common that works as the central idea behind this discipline. That idea is of 'nation
states' and the relationships between them.
IR in its very first sense name of the relationships between the nation states of the world.
The internationality is subject matter of the discipline. Modern nation state system evolved
from the Peace of Westphalia Treaty signed in 1648. Today, in the complex structure of
world states working on varying ideologies, International Relations helps to study them in
a unanimity of thought.

Scope of International Relations


Another merit as well as demerit of this discipline is that it has no boundaries of its scope.
It is merit in the sense of provision of absolute opportunity to man to make research on
the daily changing international relations. It is demerit as the discipline fails to give itself a
concrete shape and outline. But still keeping in view the aspects studied in the
International Relations till now, we will try to elaborate its scope. Following points will
prove helpful in this regard;

IR studies relations between states in their political and economic prospects


primarily.
IR covers the realm of 'foreign affairs' in all its dimensions.
IR deals with the recording and studying of International History with the aim to
find out the basis of states' relations in the past.

IR studies International Law in the context of how international rules define and
govern the relations between states.

IR embodies its scope with the inclusion of not only states but also the non-state
actors in international relations.

IR deals with the international events of;


War
Peace
Nuclear world
International political economy
Globalization
International institutions
Conflicts among states
Foreign policy and decision making
National powers and interests

Conclusion
International Relations has a wider scope. The points elaborated above as its scope are not
final. This discipline broadens its scope with the changing events of the world and new
dynamics of international relations. It is a subject along with being a practical course
adopted by nations of the world and the international institutions.

The Nation State System


Modern world is the world hosting nation state system. This system in its very basic sense
ensures the origin of states on the world map. And the relationships among these states
are to be regulated by internationally agreed set of rules. This nation state system is child
of political and social evolution of the world that commenced with the birth of social
animal on this planet.
What is Nation State System?
Palmer defines nation state system in these words; "Nation State System is a pattern of
political life which organizes people separately into sovereign states".
Elements of a Nation State
Every nation state of the world is to possess four essential elements in order to prove its
recognition. These elements are;

Population as a nation

Definite territory for that population to live in

A government to govern that population with the defined territory

Sovereignty of that nation state

Origin of Nation State System


Origin of the modern nation state system can be traced back into 1648 when the Peace
Treaty of Westphalia was signed. This treaty was actually an agreement to end the 'Thirty
Years of War' from 1618 to 1648 between various religions - political factions of the
landmass Europe.
Prior to signing of this treaty various religious sects of Christian Europe were at daggers
drawn at one hand and there was dreadful clash between the Church and the Throne on
the other hand.
With the Peace of Westphalia drawn in 1648, for the first time in human history,
independent sovereign territories were defined to be ruled by the nations living in them.
This was a way to end the long war and it proved quite effective.
Modern Nation State System
Europe became the birthplace of the contemporary nation state system. Though it was not
in this position at that time but with the time passing it evolved. Today, the nation state
system shapes an international community to discuss and deal with the affairs between
them.
Today, the nation state system is complex than ever. Not only the states are the prominent
actors as in the past but also the non-state actors occupy their place. Nation state system
of present day is however more concrete but still victim of various international problems.
Future of Nation State System
There can never be one state of the whole world as nations hesitate to lose their distinct
identities. Nation state system will continue in the future of this world with any rare
chance of being replaced. It is system that if not perfect then at least better than its
previous versions.
Further, nations have learned to govern themselves and their states. They have established
international community, international peace making institution and international law as
well. Thus, it is a relatively better system.
Conclusion
Nation state system is the framework in which modern political world acts. It has more
evolved and developed mechanisms of conduct with each other. Nation states become the
basis of studying International Relations as well both in terms of a discipline as well as in
terms of a mechanism.

Evolution of International Society

Nation state system provided the fundamental unity for giving this world an international
society. This society of states faced various phases of peace and war to evolve into its
contemporary shape. Today, international society is more powerful and strong under the
shadow of international law than it was ever before in the past. Conflicts and frictions in
the relations among states however undermine the concreteness of international society at
different levels of interaction.
What is International Society?
International society can be defined as 'community of world states gathered under an
agenda that may be in the shape of international law at a universal organization in order
to sort out the ways for achieving common goals and averting common threats thus
primarily fulfilling the aim of a peaceful world'.
Elements shaping International Society
The definition carries following elements that establish an international society;

Nation states

International organization

International law

Common Agenda

Aim for world peace


Origin of International Society
Evolution of international community can be studied after knowing its origin. It was the
Peace of Westphalia of 1648 that actually laid the formal structure of nation states.
Establishment of an international community was possible not before that. Thus, nation
states became the first element of international community.
Nation states of the world plunged into the First World War in 1914. At the end of this war,
the first ever time came in history when the idea of an international community was
materialized. Following the proposition of the then American President Wilson, the League
of Nations was established as an apparent body of international society.
Evolution of International Society
Evolution of international society began with the birth of the League of Nations after the
First World War. The league became the first platform where the member states could
debate over the international problems. But soon after the Great Depression of 1930s, the
League became the victim of nationalism and state - centrism. This undermined the
evolution of international society. World put itself into another Great War from 1939 to
1945. This was a period which might or might not be taken as evolutionary phase of
international community. But in a compact view, World War Two ended bringing the nation
states closer again in order to revive this interrupted evolution of international society. At
that moment another international organization with the name of the 'United Nations' (UN)
was established.

UN survives even today after having passed through the bumpy decades of the Cold War
between the US and the USSR. The organization represents an international society with
the gathering of 192 states as its members.
UN & the Evolution of International Society
In the contemporary state of affairs, the evolution of international society can be seen and
assessed in terms of the evolution of the UN.
The UN as universal body of nation states pledges for the world peace and to avoid any
possibilities that might lead the world into another major conflict.
International society today has evolved to discuss and deal with the modern day problems
of global climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and so on. It is dealing with the issues
of regional and civil conflicts as well to prevent them from escalation. As has been the case
with Libya and Syria today where UN interfered to stop the wars.
Conclusion
From the origin of nation state system to the establishment of the League of Nations and
then its successor the United Nations, International Society is endeavoring in one way or
the other to infuse more rational ways to deal with the global problems and global crisis.
The community faces dilemmas and debacles in their efforts but overall prevent the world
system from disintegrating.

Liberalism and Idealism


What is Liberalism?
Liberalism as its name denotes, is a theory that defies the traditional and conservative
style of observing International Relations. It is a theory that basically emphasizes upon the
need of liberal thought and openness while maintaining international relations.
What is Idealism?
Idealism is nothing different from liberalism. It is part of the Liberal Approach which
denotes a specific period of time in the world history following the First World War when
the Liberals made an abortive effort to give this world an ideal system regulating the
international relations. Idealism is also called 'Utopianism'.
Proponents of Liberalism & Idealism
Among the classic and modern proponents of Idealism and liberalism come the following
names;

Immanuel Kant

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

John Locke

These above mentioned names were of classic scholars. The modern scholars included;

Alferd Zimmer

Norman Angell

Woodrow Wilson
Fundamental Points of Liberal Approach in IR
The fundamental principles devised by the Liberal Approach in International Relations can
be studied in following points;

It is instinct of human being to cooperate for mutual welfare.

Evil is an exceptional case in the Human nature.

States in a similar context tend to cooperate in international affairs as they


are governed by rational men.

War cannot be eradicated however with mutual cooperation it can be


reduced to the minimum possible level.

There shall be promoted international harmony with the help of a global


institute working to maintain the world peace.
Origin of Liberalism
Liberalism was actually founded after the chaotic World War One. It was the wish of the
nation states to cooperate in order to eliminate war of this destructive level. Former
American President Woodrow Wilson gave his historic 14 points to bring peace into the
post - war world. He in the last of his points gave the idea of establishing an
international organization that was materialized in the form of the 'League of Nations'.
Criticism on Liberal & Ideal Approach
Liberalism and its more ambitious faction Idealism are criticized for utterly rejecting the
realist basis of international relations. They are criticized for forwarding the utopian
and impracticable schemes of regulating the relations between the states.
Failure of Liberalism?
Liberalism if not utterly failed then at least received a blow when the League met failure
and world plunged into World War Two. The utopian scheme could not prevent the
nationalistic tendencies of the League's former members from disrupting the world
order.
Conclusion
Liberalism is among the classic theoretical approaches of the International Relations.
The theory carries massive support for its liberal and peaceful modes of regulating the
international relations. However, it is criticized for its failure to prevent the world from
another great war with its utopian schemes.

Realism
Realism is the approach of International Relations that works as anti - thesis to
Liberalism. Realism focuses on the more realistic, power oriented and state centric

principles that play important role in international relations. Realism lays emphasis upon
gaining national power to pursue national interests at all costs.
Proponents of Realism Approach
Among the classic proponents of Realism, also regarded as its founders, following names
fall;

Nicola Machiavelli

Thomas Hobbes

Clausewitz
Modern scholars that favor Realism as a better approach in International Relations are;

Hans Morgenthau

George F. Kenan

E. H. Carr
Origin of Realism as Approach of International Relations
Formal origin and incorporation of Realism as an approach in the International Relations
was seen at the end of the Second World War. Liberalism failed in all its utopian schemes
to bring peace to the world. States fought another Total War. Following that the approach
of Realism sought grounds. If seen in the distant past, Realism finds its origin in writings
of Machiavelli as well as Thomas Hobbes.
Fundamental Postulates of Realism
Following were the fundamental postulates drafted by various scholars under the umbrella
of Realism;

There exists international anarchy.

States are the principal actors in international relations.

States pursue national interests.

States tend to accumulate national power.

States strengthen the means of their survivals.

National power and national interests determine the relations between states.

States need to compete each other for seeking relative gains in the international
realm.

War is an option in the international relations.


Realism and Six Principles of Hans Morgenthau
Hans Morgenthau's six principles of Realism are taken as eminent work in this field of
International Relations. His six principles give the ideas of;

National power

State centrism

National interests

Autonomy

Survival

Beyond morality approach of state


Criticism on Realism as Theoretical Approach of International Relations
Realism is criticized for its extreme emphasis on state centrism, power grabbing and

national interests at the costs of world peace. The theory is realistic but leads the world
states into an anarchic position where everyone is at war against the other. It does not
eliminate war as an option in the international relations.
Conclusion
International Relations seeks Realism as among the influential classical approaches.
Realism talks about the aboriginal and realistic basis of international relations. It is
criticized for its extreme version but the theory completely rejects the utopian postulates of
idealism. Realism does not take cooperation as an option because according to its
proponents, world is anarchic where intense competition is inevitable to maintain national
power.

Neo-Realism
'Neo' means new or the latest. Neo-Realism is more refined and advanced strand of
Realism. Neo-Realism unlike the original Realism is more moderate form in International
Relations.
Origin of Neo-Realism
Neo-Realism originated in latter part of 1970s. It was the reactionary product of NeoLiberalism which once again posed serious threat to the Realist idea of state centrism. It
was the work of Kenneth Waltz with the title of 'Theory of International Politics' which gave
birth to neo-realism.
Exponent of Neo-Realism
Among the modern exponents of neo-realism the name of Kenneth Waltz echoes. He is
regarded as founder of this theoretical approach in the International Relations. Waltz
sticking to the traditional ideas of Realism, infuses a new spirit in this approach by not
utterly rejecting the possibilities of cooperation among the states of the world.
Postulates of Neo-Realism
Postulates of new-realism are the same as that of realism. They differ in a few points which
are explained as following;

There exists international anarchy which serves as basis of international relations


rather than the Human nature of violence.

World states follow the idea of self - help to empower themselves and act in
international relations.

There exists Security Dilemma in international relations. States accumulate power


for their security and survival which leads most of them into a race of armament and
militarization.

Possibilities of cooperation between the states need not to be overlooked when they
are serving the interests of a state.

It is not the cooperation however but the 'Balance of Power' that actually prevent
the states from large scale war.

Criticism on Neo-Realism Theory of International Relations


Neo-Realism is criticized on the account of following points;

Still the theory is extreme and regards state as the sole actors of international
relations.
It admits cooperation now but it has not yet rejected war as an option.

Focuses on national power and national interests of a state which actually


undermine the possibilities for cooperation.

The theory of Neo-Realism gives a mixed vision not a clear cut one. It is not inclined
on a single side.

Conclusion
Neo-Realism is actually the reaction to the action posed by Neo-Liberalism. The theory has
not given up the basic postulates of Realism but it is still moderate as compared to its
original version. Neo-Realism is brainchild of Kenneth Waltz who believed neither in
extreme liberalism not in extreme realism. As a consequence, he devised a middle way to
meet the ideals in international relations.

Neo-Realism
'Neo' means new or the latest. Neo-Realism is more refined and advanced strand of
Realism. Neo-Realism unlike the original Realism is more moderate form in International
Relations.
Origin of Neo-Realism
Neo-Realism originated in latter part of 1970s. It was the reactionary product of NeoLiberalism which once again posed serious threat to the Realist idea of state centrism. It
was the work of Kenneth Waltz with the title of 'Theory of International Politics' which gave

birth to neo-realism.
Exponent of Neo-Realism
Among the modern exponents of neo-realism the name of Kenneth Waltz echoes. He is
regarded as founder of this theoretical approach in the International Relations. Waltz
sticking to the traditional ideas of Realism, infuses a new spirit in this approach by not
utterly rejecting the possibilities of cooperation among the states of the world.
Postulates of Neo-Realism
Postulates of new-realism are the same as that of realism. They differ in a few points which
are explained as following;

There exists international anarchy which serves as basis of international relations


rather than the Human nature of violence.

World states follow the idea of self - help to empower themselves and act in
international relations.

There exists Security Dilemma in international relations. States accumulate power


for their security and survival which leads most of them into a race of armament and
militarization.

Possibilities of cooperation between the states need not to be overlooked when they
are serving the interests of a state.

It is not the cooperation however but the 'Balance of Power' that actually prevent
the states from large scale war.

Criticism on Neo-Realism Theory of International Relations


Neo-Realism is criticized on the account of following points;

Still the theory is extreme and regards state as the sole actors of international
relations.
It admits cooperation now but it has not yet rejected war as an option.

Focuses on national power and national interests of a state which actually


undermine the possibilities for cooperation.

The theory of Neo-Realism gives a mixed vision not a clear cut one. It is not inclined
on a single side.

Conclusion
Neo-Realism is actually the reaction to the action posed by Neo-Liberalism. The theory has
not given up the basic postulates of Realism but it is still moderate as compared to its
original version. Neo-Realism is brainchild of Kenneth Waltz who believed neither in
extreme liberalism not in extreme realism. As a consequence, he devised a middle way to
meet the ideals in international relations.

World System Theory


World System Theory, unlike the classic theories of Realism and Liberalism, is one
dimensional approach to study the situation of dependency of a part of the world upon the
other. The central point of the theory emphasizes on the point that the unhealthy
economic condition of the developing countries is due to continuous dependence on and
unending exploitation by the developed states of the world.
Origin of World System Theory
World System Theory is believed to have its root in the works of Lenin - the revolutionary
founder of the communist USSR. Lenin wrote 'Imperialism - The Highest Stage of
Capitalism'. In this book he blamed capitalistic developed states responsible for
exploitation and backwardness of the developing states.
Explanation of World System Theory
World system theory explains the imperialistic styles of the world hegemons. It simply
divides the world into two tiers. One of the 'Core' which is based on economically and
politically advance countries i.e. European nations, USA. The other is 'Periphery' which
consists of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and South America.
The theory propounds that the Periphery world is dependent upon the Core world. This
dependence can be interpreted in terms of economy, politics and technological
advancement. The reasons behind the dependence are not only backwardness and
depravity of the Periphery but also continuous exploitation of these states by the Core
states. This exploitation is carried out by various tools that can be laws, institutions or
any other form.
Historical Dependence of the Periphery
The theory goes deep in the history of the world order. It states that it was Periphery that
provided the Core with cheap labor, natural resources and raw material. Most of the
Periphery states were colonized and exploited to bring advancement and development in
the Core states. This led to historical dependence of the Periphery states on the Core
states.

The situation worsened when the Core states reached high levels of industrialization and
technology but they did not share this advancement with the periphery states.
Conclusion
The approach of World System is criticized for being not a theory in real sense. It is single
dimensional perspective that explains how developing states are dependent upon the
developed states. The theory did not carry enough weightage in the theoretical realm of
International Relations.

Feminist Theory
Feminism is a non-traditional and modern theory of International Relations. The theory
highlighted the aspects of international relations from the point of view of women of the
world. The theory propounds how this gender has been sidelined in deciding international
relations despite being its direct victim every time. Feminism is the broadest example of an
effort for women empowerment.
Origin of Feminism as Theory of International Relations
Origin of Feminism is actually the consequence of several world conferences convened to
empower women across the globe. Some of the prominent conferences that played role in
this regard are;

Mexico Women's Conference 1975

Copenhagen Women's Conference 1980

Nairobi Women's Conference 1985

Convention on Elimination of All Kinds of Discriminations against Women 1979


These conferences highlighted the rights of women along with the need to empower them
and give them a share in deciding international affairs.
International Endorsement of Women's Rights
Following the conferences mentioned above, international community endorsed the rightful
demands of women. The United Nations declared the years from 1976 to 1985 as 'Decade
for Women'. Similarly, the year 1975 was marked as the 'International Women's Year'.
Core Points of Feminism as a Theory
Feminism laid down following reservations upon the contemporary world order;

World order is in fact male dominated.

National interest is always multi-dimensional but is defined by masculinity.

Women have always remained hidden in international relations.

Women are direct victims of male dominated decision making in international


relations.

War is decided by men but women suffer.

Efficacy of Feminism
Feminism is right in its reservations but it is utopian scheme. It is not practicable to
secure the share for women in international relations in a way as demanded. Feminism
just like World System Theory explains one dimensional aspect of international relations.
Though there is a vast change observable today in the status of women in world. They have
been empowered greatly. But there are cultural, social and historical barriers to enhance
their role in international relations that are difficult to overcome.
Another point which proves that women are now more active in international relations
more than they were in the past is that they can be seen as heads of the states, chief
diplomats, ambassadors, head of delegations at UN.
Conclusion
Feminist theory is more a reservation than an explanation how international relations are
regulated. It rarely gives any clear cut mechanism to regulate international relations. It has
however helped in empowering women.

Conceptualization of Security in 21st Century


Balance of Power is anachronism in the 21st century which is dominated by the nation
states that see their national interests and national powers as chief aims. Thus, intense
competition exists in anarchic world. Balance of power was not appropriate to bring peace
to the 21st century world. Due to its inadequacy and uncertainty it was needed to be
replaced by something more reliable.
Perceiving the Idea of Security in 21st Century
21st century is witnessing the nation states in their evolved shapes. International
community is stronger than ever before in the chaotic world history. But the risks of
conflicts among states are never eliminated absolutely. It is part of realistic world. In
21st century these risks might be less but dangerous than ever. This is because
international community is strong but several states have weaponized themselves with
weapons of mass destruction. Thus, maintaining peace in this scenario is critical and
needs proper mechanisms.
'Collective Security' as Core Concept of World Peace in 21st Century
The idea of 'Collective Security' replaced 'Balance of Power' in 21 st century. This core
concept of security is different from its preceding formula.
A. What is Collective Security?
Collective Security can be defined as the 'the collective or joint mechanisms adopted and
pursued by the international community to fight aggression and the aggressor in order to
maintain international peace'.

B. Principle behind the Concept of Collective Security


The principle behind the concept of Collective Security is that 'all the states must be
joining hands to fight against the aggression. Attack against one states shall be taken as
an attack against all states'.
C. How to Achieve Collective Security?
Collective security can be achieved by pursuing the ways mentioned below;

Aggressor state is needed to be identified in a combat

All other states shall work jointly to contain or defeat the aggressor

Aggressor shall be either made to surrender or defeated

Arrangements shall be made in future to bring the aggressor state into mainstream
Effectiveness of Collective Security
Effectiveness of 'Collective Security' depends completely upon the eagerness of states to
play their respective roles in this regard. More the willing states would be the more
effective Collective Security can be perceived.
Collective Security & the League of Nations
League of Nations established on the principle of collective security failed in its mission
due to inappropriate and nationalistic approach of certain states like Germany, Italy, and
France. It carried the principles to preserve the world peace which collapsed after the
Great Depression and finally led world to Second Great War of the century.
Collective Security & the UN
UN succeeded the League. In its very first Article, the UN Charter pledges to maintain
international peace. Chapter 7 of the charter further clarifies the course of action that
states need to adopt in cases of Breach of Peace.
Conclusion
Collective Security is the idea that works as the concept of security in 21 stcentury. This
concept is working contemporarily along with several flaws it carries.

Power & Elements of National Power


National Power is fundamentally a mantra given by and believed in by the Realist school of
thought in International Relations. Having assumed this world as anarchic, the realists
emphasize upon accumulation of power by a state as inevitable. As far as the parameters
of measuring the national power is concerned, realists do measure it in relative terms. The
criterion set to determine national power is a collection of different elements that
collectively assess it.

What is Power?
In simplest terms of understanding, power is the capacity to get a thing done from
someone who would not have done this otherwise.
What is National Power?
National power refers to the capacity of a state to use its influence, force or authority upon
another state.
Realists' View of National Power
Realist school of thought view national power as ultimate as well as the immediate goal of
a state. According to them a state must never give up accumulating national power after
all it is in competition with friends as well as foes.
Elements of National Power
Elements of national power are the factor which determine the power of a state. Status of
these elements is basically the parameter that may enhance or decline the national power
of a state. Some of the major elements have been elaborated below;
A. Geography
Geography does not only include the size and location of a state which determine national
power but also strategic position, climate, topography etc. Role of geography can be seen in
terms that the USSR and the USA had been super powers of the world and both carried
vast territories. But that is not always the case. Britain has small territory of its own but
its control on seas empowered it to rule over the world.
B. Economy
In the contemporary world order, the thing which matters the most is the powerful and
stable economy of a state. China is a clear example which due to its economy emerges out
to be the next world super power. Even the USA which is super power now has a vibrant
economy.
C. Military
With economy, military might be also essential to enhance national power. China might be
an economic giant but it has limited military capacity as compared to the US. Thus the
USA surpasses it in national power.
D. Technology
Technological advancement emerges out to be another modern element of national power.
Technology is something that is shared in every field whether it is military, science,
agriculture or another department of state. A state technologically advance shares
superiority over the other. For instance, during the Cold War, the USA shared
technological superiority over the USSR.

E. Natural Resources
Natural resources are another element of national power. What matters in real is not the
presence of natural resources but it is their exploitation. If exploited to the maximum
benefit, natural resources can be helpful in enhancing national power.
F. National Unity and Population
Population type and its skills determine national power. And if the population of a nation
is united, it empowers the nation better.
G. Ideology
Ideology is traditional element of national power. It matters less but still matters to
determine national power. This is because of the reason that ideology plays role in
determining structure of state.

Balance of Power
Balance of power is the classical realist concept that preserved peace of the pre - world
wars world. It is concept that marks its practical implementation in 18 th century. In the
contemporary world, balance of power theory has little role to play but it cannot be ignored
utterly due to its historic role. Even during the Cold War, a balance of power was present
between the two Super Powers which prevented from escalation of any conflict to the total
war.
Defining Balance of Power
It has been noted that unlike most of the topics of international relations which lack
concrete definitions, 'Balance of Power' is actually the one which has multiple
interpretations. In simple terms, Balance of Power refers to 'the mechanism which the
states adopt in order to maintain a certain level of equilibrium in their relative powers'.
Balance of Power as a General Social Principle
International Relations' Realist Morgenthau see the 'Balance of Power' as a general social
principle. According to this perspective, 'Balance of Power' exists among states just as it
exists among individuals in society to maintain the social peace and equilibrium.
Pre - Requisites of 'Balance of Power'
Balance of power requires following essentials;

Multiple nation states

International anarchy

Varying degrees of powers distributed among the states

Requirement for bringing an equilibrium


Tools of 'Balance of Power'
Balance of power is not naturally present in the world order. It has to be achieved by the

world states utilizing one or the other method. Some major tools or techniques of achieving
balance of power are elaborated as following;
A. Alliances & Counter Alliances
This is the chief way to maintain or bring balance of power. In the 18 th century world and
also during the Cold War, balance of power was kept by establishing Alliances. A common
example is 'NATO' & 'Warsaw' during the Cold War. Both the alliances, each led by rival
superpower, maintained a level of balance between them.
B. Buffer States
These are the states which geographically work as barrier between two or more rivals. For
instance, Afghanistan has been a buffer state between British held Indian colony and the
Soviet Union. Similarly, Tibet served as buffer states between India and China.
C. Armament and Militarization
Armament and militarization by one nation leads the rival states to do the same. This
maintains balance of power between them. India and Pakistan present this type of case.
Both the states maintain a level of deterrence through militarization and nuclear
armament.
D. Disarmament
During Cold War, particularly in its later part, rapid disarmament agreements were
concluded between the US and the USSR. These agreements were like SALT, NPT at global
level, etc. These helped to restore balance of power by reducing dreadful arms.
E. Intervention
Intervention is also an option to bring balance of power. The US & USSR' interventions in
Korean War, Vietnam war are its examples. Both the powers maintained balance of power
between them by fighting proxy wars at foreign lands.

Sovereignty
Sovereignty is a modern day aspect of the International Relations. It is actually linked with
the aboriginal concept of the nation - state system. Before the origin of the nation state
system, the idea of sovereignty was vague. Later it evolved gradually to assume the
contemporary manifestation.
Defining Sovereignty
Sovereignty is defined in terms of 'unrestricted and unlimited authority of a state within its
territory and on its population'. In another meaning of sovereignty, it is taken as the
supremacy of state. This supremacy is meant to control and command everything inferior
to it.

Sovereignty as Element of State


Modern nation state has four essential elements as defined in the 'Montevideo Convention
on Duties and Rights of States';

Population

Territory

Government

Sovereignty
Sovereignty as an element of state is the most important one in abstract sense. Without
sovereignty the idea of population and territory can be perceived but the idea of
government control on both these things remains impossible. So, sovereignty is actually
the name of that control as well which government being the working agency of state
exercise over its people.
Various Dimensions of Sovereignty
Sovereignty is understood in different dimensions or types. Some are explained below;
A. Domestic Sovereignty
Domestic sovereignty means that the state is sovereign to rule over and decide for all the
internal matters within its territory or related to its population.
B. Interdependence Sovereignty
Interdependence sovereignty means that state shall have control the international
boundaries it shares with the neighboring states. No one is permitted to cross the borders
of the state without due permission.
C. International Legal Sovereignty
This sovereignty is linked to the recognition of other sovereign states which have fulfilled
the criteria of being the nation states.
Exclusivity and Absoluteness in Sovereignty
Exclusiveness and Absoluteness are two important features of sovereignty. Exclusivity
means that the state is sovereign excluding all other agents that may tend to exercise
control. In simple terms it excludes these agents from sharing state's sovereignty.
Absoluteness of sovereignty of state means that the supremacy and authority of state is
absolute and final. It will govern not only all the geographical parts of the country but also
decide for the people. This feature makes the modern nation state as central institute of
power.
Internal & External Sovereignty
Internal sovereignty deals with the internal affairs of a state. This idea is most of the time
also linked with the concept of legitimacy of government. The way in which a government

is elected to exercise internal sovereignty is an important aspect.


External sovereignty is the name of maintaining relations of a sovereign power with the
other states of the world. It is not the supremacy of one state over another but the way in
which relations between states are to be maintained on equal footing.
Conclusion
Sovereignty is an abstract element of state which is also the most important one.
Sovereignty is the actual thing which works as the soul of modern nation state.

National Interest
National interest is a tricky topic of modern International Relations. It is something taken
as an impetus behind every state action relative to another state. National Interest serves
as the determinant of state's foreign policy along with depicting the nature and policies of
political government ruling the state.
Defining National Interest
it is a common perception that national interest has no concrete and definite words that
can define it absolutely. It is a fluid aspect of International Relations. The definition of
national interest lacks universality because the national interest is not shared common by
all states. Secondly, there are the factors which determine national interest of a state for a
specific period of time. These factors also vary from state to state.
But in a very safe and simplest attempt to define national interest following words can be
used; "National Interest is the name of those goals and objectives of a state which are
pursued to seek the maximum benefit in a given set of circumstances".
Fluidity of National Interest
National interest lacks definite outlook. The variables which prevent national interest from
seeking a concrete shape are following;

Varying circumstances

Different state ideologies

Major changes in the World Order


These variables make states to review their national interests from time to time and alter
their course of action then.
Link between National Interest and Foreign Policy
National interest is closely linked to the foreign policy of a state. As foreign policy is
determined and drafted keeping in view the national interest. Relations of one state with
another state are nothing more than their interests attached to each other's. In Foreign
policy a state pursues its national interest.

Determinants of National Interest


Along with the variables mentioned above, national interest is determined by following
elements;

State's geo - strategic position

Political traditions

Goals and manifestoes of political parties

History of the state


Survival - The Chief Aim of National Interest
Among the several aims and goals of the national interest of a state, survival stands to be
the first one. All other interests come after a state has ensured survival. Other aims of
national interest can be economic, political and diplomatic oriented.
Ways to Pursue National Interest
National interest is pursued through different ways. In the modern world of the nation state system, national interest is pursued chiefly by 'Diplomacy'. It is the legitimate art of
forwarding state's foreign policy towards other states. In this way actually national interest
is pursued.
Ways to pursue other than diplomacy can be use of influence, making alliances,
concluding agreements and treaties. Illegitimate ways might include the use of force
against the other state or interfering in its internal matters with the help of non - state
actors.
Conclusion
National interest is understood in wider sense. It is mostly long term policy. The reason
behind the presence of complexity in understanding national interest is also that we take it
in shorter term as something imminently achievable and based on unchangeable
principles. But in fact it is contrary to that.