International Relations: Meaning and Nature

In the very beginning of the civilized world the states were mutually interlinked. In modern times the world has greatly shrunk as a result of scientific and technological development. As a result, events in one part of the world have an immediate impact on the rest of the world., Therefore the states maintain regular relations with other states of the world. As an alone individual is nothing similarly, a state without other state is nothing and in the present complex life, a state without relations with other cannot survive. Materialistic needs, religion, economic requirements, industrialization, security matters and trade etc. brought the states together. Inter-states wars yielded post-war treaties, economic and friendly agreements and international organizations. All these things are studied by international relations.

International relations are an old subject and can be traced in the old tribes. It was utilized by the Greeks and Romans in their relations. As a regular subject, international relations took start in the World War-I era and specially because of the second World War, Cold War between USA and USSR, disintegration of USSR, New World Order (NWO) of USA, global role of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) emergence of international organization and diplomatic relations etc. developed this subject to great extent.

International Relations is the study and practice of political relationships among the world’s nations, especially their governments. International relations mean interactions between nongovernmental groups, such as multinational corporations or international organizations such as the OIC or the United Nations (UN).

International relations is a broad and complex topic both for countries engaged in relationships with other nations, and for observers trying to understand those interactions. These relationships are influenced by many variables. They are shaped by the primary participants in international relations, including national leaders, oilier politicians, and nongovernmental participants, such as private citinns, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations. They are also affected by domestic political events and nonpolitical influences, including economics, geography, and culture. Despite all of these other influences, the primary focus of international relations is on the interactions between nations.

To understand these interactions, experts look at the world as a system of nations whose actions are guided by a well-defined set of rules. They call this system the interstate system. The interstate system has existed for less than 500 years and is based on a common understanding of what a nation is and how it should treat other nations. But recent changes in technology and international norms have caused some scholars to question whether this system will continue in the future, or be replaced by some other system of relationships that is not yet known.

From September 1814 to June 1815 representatives of the major European powers convened in Vienna, Austria, to reorganize Europe following the defeat of French emperor Napoleon I. The Congress of Vienna, as this conference became known, was a major event in the history of international relations.

Until the 1970s the study of international, relations centered mainly on international security studies i.e. questions of war and peace. Scholars believed a nation’s military power was the most important characteristic in determining how that nation would relate to others. As a result, scholars focused on the relative military strength of one nation compared to others, alliances and diplomacy between nations, and the strategies nations used to protect their territories and further their own interests.

Since the 1970s the importance of economics in international relations has increased and the study of international political ‘ economy has received increased attention. The primary force driving the interaction between nations is economic, not military. There is trade and economic relations among nations, especially the political cooperation between nations to create and maintain international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

In both security studies and international political economy, experts strive to explain patterns of conflict and cooperation among nations. Conflicts among nations are expected since their political and economic aims and interests often depart. Cooperation does not refer to the absence of conflict but to the ability of nations to peacefully resolve their differences in a way that is acceptable to all parties involved. When cooperation fails, conflicts often escalate into coercion and ultimately war.

Ihe term International” was used for the first time by Jermy Bentham in the later part of the 18th century with regard to the laws of nations. Consequently, the term “IR” was used to define the official relations between sovereign states.

I he economic, social. cultural. political and military relations amongst the state of the world may also be included in the preview of the subject. Thus there are broadly two views regarding the meaning of international relations.

Narrow view: According to this view ‘IR’ includes only “The official relations conducted by the authorized leaders of the states.” According to this view other relations do not fall in the domain of IR’

Broad view: Some scholars have taken a broad view of international relations, and included apart from the official relations between states, all intercourse among states and all movements of people, goods and ideas acorss the national frontiers with in its preview.

Definitions of IR

“International relations is the branch of political science that studies relations between countries of the world.” (Encarta).

“It is not only the nations seek to regulate, varied types of groups-nations, states, governments, people, region, alliances, confederations, international organizations, cultural organizations, religious organizations must be dealt with in the study of international relations if the treatment is to be made realistic.” (Quincy Wright)

“International relations is concerned with the factors and activities, that affect the external policies and the powers of the basic units into that the world is divided.” (Hoffman).

“International relations is the discipline, that tries to explain political activities across state boundaries (Trevor Tayor).

It embraces all kinds of relations traversing state boundaries, no matter whether they are of an economic, legal, political or any other character, whether they be private or official, and all human behaviour originating on one side of a state boundary

International relations studies foreign relations, diplomacy. agreements and pacts, international law, international organizations, inter-state interaction, war and peace, international justice and alliances etc.

 pacts, international law, international organizations, inter-state interaction, war and peace, international justice and alliances etc.

Scope of International Relations

International relations topic cover diplomacy, treaties, question of war and peace, global happenings, commercial, cultural, educational. social, religious international alliances and international organizations etc. The scope of international relations can be discussed.

Establishment of League of Nations. In modern time the field. of the study was widened with the establishment of the League of Nations in 1920, after the First World War due to the sincere efforts of Woodrow Wilson of USA. The establishment of the League of Nations contributed to the study of international relations. Therefore, the study of international organizations and international institutions was also included in its preview.

Emergence of USA and USSR as a Super Powers. Emergence of USA and USSR as superpowers further widened the scope of international relations. After the second World War the world transformed into bipolarity from multi-polarity with USA and USSR flourishing in international affairs. Both the superpowers conducted international relations according to their own interests.

Establishment of United Nations. After the end of World War II various international conferences were held. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met at Tehran and Yalta. They agreed in principle to form a worldwide international organization for peace loving states. Therefore, an acceptable charter was signed on 26th June 1945. United Nations is a global organization of independent and sovereign states and its main aim is “to maintain international peace and security.” The establishment of the UN also contributed to the study of international relations to great extent.

Emergence of USA as a Superpower (New World Order). l’he end of USSR as a superpower in Dec, 1990 changed the whole world and USA emerged as a superpower that adopted international politics in such a way that majority of the nations of the world visualized themselves as the subjected mission of the single power. The Gulf War of 1991 paved the way for USA to emerge as a superpower that resulted in the USA’s N.W.O under that USA became the master of the world politics. Emergence of USA as a superpower also extended the scope of international relations.

Technological Development. Technology exercises profound influence on the power base of a state as well as the course of international relations. Technology at least in three spheres, industrial, communication and military, has greatly influenced the power of the state. Due to technological development the world has become a global village. Technological development also extended the scope and value of international relations.

Globalization. Due to certain reasons the scattered world is going towards integration. The world is now a single village and states are incomplete with one another. This situation increased the scope of international relations.

Approaches to IR

Approach is a way of looking at and then explaining a particular phenomenon. The perspective may be broad enough to cover a vast area like World as a whole, or it may be very small embracing an aspect of local, regional, national or international politics. Please read full article of approaches of international relations studies i.e. traditional approaches and modern approaches.

Approaches to International Relations – Traditional & Modern

Approach is a way of looking at and then explaining a particular phenomenon. The perspective may be broad enough to cover a vast area like World as a whole, or it may be very small embracing an aspect of local, regional, national or international politics. Besides, it may cover with in its fold every other thing related to the collection and selection of evidence followed by an investigation and analysis of a particular hypothesis for an academic purpose. In this way, an approach consists of a criteria of selection criteria employed in selecting the problems or questions to consider and in selecting the data to bring to bear. It consists of standards governing the inclusion and exclusion of questions and data. An approach is distinguishable from a theory. An approach is closely related to a theory in view of the fact that it’s very character determines the way of generalization, explanation, and -prediction. are among the main functions of a theory. An approach is transformed into a theory if and when its function extends beyond the selection of problems and data about the subject under study.

There are two main categories of approaches of international relations studies i.e. traditional approaches and modern approaches.

Classical or Traditional Approaches of IR

Historical Approach: This Approach lays emphasis on certain permanent issues of international relations and politics like origins and characteristics of the state system, ideas underlying legal and diplomatic practices of the concert of Europe, balance of power and its relevance in the light of concrete achievements, causes of international conflicts and their cure etc. The historical approach is Id to have its own merit. It can help bring to light, to make more explicit. the assumptions of thought and also the value judgments that color the perceptions of the scholar and the practitioner alike.

Philosophical Approach: Ethical approach is the study of world world in inextricably mixed up with the quest of certain goals, morals, truths and high norms supposed to be underlying all knowledge and. reality. The philosophical approach is widely criticized for being too abstract and speculative. It is said that such an approach to the study of International Relations and politics takes away from the world of reality and for this reason: it is accused of being utopian.

Legal Approach: Ever since Grotius produced his great work on International law, a good number of leading figures have followed the legal approach to the study of international politics. Obviously, the legal approach. as applied to the study of national or international willies, stands on this assumption that law prescribes action to be Liken in a given situation and also forbids the action.

Institutional Approach: It may be treated as an extension of the legal approach discussed above. Here the focus is on the formal structure of an existing or proposed organization entrusted with the job of maintaining peace among the states or implementing the principles of international law. It places may be seen in the studies of the organization and structure of the league of Nations, the United Nations and other specialized agencies like International Labor Organization, UNESCO and UNICEF etc.

New and Modern Approaches of International Relations

Behavioral Approach: The first sightings of this approach occurred in the 1920s. Frank Kent. an American journalist was the creator of this approach. Behavioral Approach specifies the behaviour of persons and social groups rather than events, structures, institutions ideologies. It stresses the mutual interdependence of theory and research and tries to develop vigorous research design and to apply precise methods of analysis to political behaviour problems.

Equilibrium Approach: Originally developed by the pioneer of the behavioural movement in political science like Author Bentley Charles Merriam and George Caitlin, it signifies that politics is the instant product of the interaction of variables characteristics of the forces in conflict and the public policy is the product of adjustment between conflicting interests. It studied the world as equilibrium. Equilibrium is defined as a relationship among the forces operating upon or within an entity or group of entities so that the whole manifests in some degree and some form of stability.

Communication Approach: It seeks to demonstrate the’ political aspects of International communications to the degree to that these flew of communication condition political behaviour. This approach lays stress on the point that if politics is envisaged as a system; the control of the system centers on communication and the ability of a state to control are related to its ability to deal with information.

Integration Approach: Another approach with that the name of Karl Deutsch is associated is known by the name of integration approach that. in a strict sense seeks to pour old wine into a new bottle. It desires the integration of two or more states to form a new and larger entity for defending themselves as well as for contributing to the situation of world peace. Deutsch argues that integration is the attainment with in a territory of a sense of community and of institutions and practices strong and wide spread enough to assure, for a long time. dependable expectations of peaceful change among the population.

Game theory: It is defined as a body of thought dealing with rational decision strategies in situations of conflict and competition where in each participant or player seeks to maximize his gains and minimize his losses. Davis B. Bobrow, suggests the following proposals of the.situation with that game theory deals.

  1. Each player has two or more choices as to how to proceed in the game.
  2. A player of the. game consists of a single simultaneous choice of a strategy of each of the players.
  3. The outcome of the game is determined once each player has chosen a strategy.
  4. And each possible outcome is associated with a particular payoff or return (Positive or negative) to each player.

Marxist Approach: Basically different from the liberal view of international politics, the Marxists regard politics as a struggle for power hinging on the basis of class interests. In the domestic sphere, politics signifies a continuous fight between the two contending classes. The dominant class having control over the means of production, distribution, and exchange and the dominated one that becomes the victim of exploitation and oppression at the hands of dominant class. The same fact finds its extension in the international sphere where capitalist states fight for economic exploitation and political subjugation of the weaker states of the world. With a view to establish their monopolistic hold, they fight against each other for the partition of the globe as a result of that world war occurs.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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