Lecture Notes International Politics lecture 1-7 - IRIO- RUG

IP Lecture 1

1. Thinking about International Politics

-In international Politics, similar events happen over and over again. Take as example refugees from North Africa, a recent political problem, and the refugees who fled in boats during the Vietnam War.

-Illustrative example: a girl fled from Vietnam and may stay in a refugee camp in Hongkong, because she migrated because of political (and not economical) reasons. The girl isn’t allowed to leave the camp at first, but she gets out because she marries a Chinese man.

This Vietnamese girl in refugee camp brings up some questions:

War: why are people endangered?

Migration: why do people decide or are forced to migrate?

Borders: why are borders created and maintained?

Rights: who has rights, and so what?


-Some guiding ideas for the course:

1. IP is not detached from everyday life. IP is about the experience of people and how they are governed.

2. The world feels different depending on where we are OR the time we are in. It is not the same to think the world in Damascus in August 2015 than in Groningen.

3. IP is about relations. Nothing works in isolation.


2. The (un)making of statehood

-Some core concepts of IP:

-What is a state?

-Are states natural or are they created?

-If states are created by us, how do we create the state?

The answer is: states practice

(Diplomates talk in behalf of the state)


-Legal definition of what constitutes a state:

Montevideo Convention, Signed in Uruguay 1933

Established the definition, rights and rules of statehood


Article 1 (criteria for statehood)

-a defined territory

-a permanent population

-an effective government

-the capacity to enter into relations with other states


Article 3 (declarative theory of statehood)

-the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by other states


Now we have to question ourselves: is for example IS a state? It claims to have the criteria from Article 1, and according to Article 3, it doesn’t need our recognition.


The politics of territory

Important questions:

-What is territory?

-Is territory something we create ourselves, or is it a natural given?

(Territory is earth/dirt, political territory is made)

-What do you think determines boundaries?

-How are boundaries fixed? War, tradition, law, greed?

-Can boundaries be changed?


Sources of territorial legimacy:

-Law, Grotius and Pufendorf in the 17th century

-Collective security

-Dynastic principle of legitimation

-Political fact of recognition



(Tools: League of Nations (after WWI), Montevideo Convention and the UN)


The politics of population

-What ‘is’ people, or what are people meant to, or made to, be?

-Who counts, how, why, where?

-What does for example the Dutch population consist of? (Just blondes, people who hold the passport, everyone who is here?)

-What if things change or go wrong?


The politics of government

-How are governments constituted?

-What legitimates governments?

-What about so-called failed states or collapsed states?



Statehood is a truly political process rather than a legal category.


IP Lecture 2


Important questions concerning identity politics are:

  • What is the role of identity in IP and IR?

  • What do we understand by identity when thinking about international politics in IR and why do we consider identity to be political?

  • How do nationality and sex/gender as identities help constitute the system of international politics in its present form?


On the EU model CV one has to fill in their personal information. One has thus several identities, which help distinguish one from the rest or ‘the general one


Identity markers are distinction markers. Without other people there’s no you, so identity is relational. An example of an identity marker is nationality.


Politics can affect identity in multiple ways:

  • Socially

  • By activity, process: determinations, negotiation, contestation

  • By power

  • Historically


We can not be who we are without society; we can’t choose who we want to be. Identities such as our nationality are already determined. You can’t stay as long in the US as you want, because politics decided you can’t.



The world is made up of many nations and there are many nationalities in the world today.

  • Not all nations have a state, but why not?

  • Is a nation the same as a state?

  • Should it be that all nations have or are their own states?


How are nations determined? Different scholarly approaches are:

  • Nations are primordial: objective factors combine humans in a nation

  • Nations are an invention of modernity

  • Nations are cultural communities: a common cultural history combines humans in a nation

  • Nations are political communities: alludes to a community of people that unite under a common government


The process of the making and unmaking of nations is an ongoing process. Right now the nation is globalizing, and so are international politics.


Some conclusions:

  • Personal identities can be socially made and altered

  • National identities are socially made, they are historical and political

  • International identities are linked with national identies


Sexes/gendered identities&politics

A particularly dominant identity marker next to nationality are our sexes/genders


Important questions concerning sexes and genders are:

  • Why do we have sexes and genders?

  • How are we determined as sexes and genders?

  • What have sexes and genders to do with national and international identities and differences?


Sexes are:

  • not simply natural and/or biological.

  • socially constructed, as are genders.

  • Identity markers that identify and distinguish us

  • political


An example of how genders can be political:

During WWII transgenders, gays etc had to wear a pink triangle and were killed because they were abnormal.


Sexes/gendered nations and nation-states&politics

International politics are entangled with sexes and genders.


How can a nation be gendered?

USA: There are a lot of men and the symbol (the eagle) looks very manly, so you could say the USA is male.

France: a lot of women, e.g. on stamps, so you could say France is female.


Cynthia Enloe, a feminist writer, questions where the women are in nowadays society. She states that we shouldn’t ignore women in international politics, because if we do we are likely to end up mapping a landscape peopled only by men.


Obvious examples that man control women are: rape and sexual harassment. Even UN peacekeepers were accused of rape and killing in the Central African Republic.


A not so obvious example is Carmen Miranda or the Chiquita girl. She was imported to America and functioned as a sort of ambassador between Latin and North America. She helped to ease relations.


Even in the study of IR men are dominant. In the man question, the writer states that studies have shown men are aggressive and violent and that there’s a lot of competition in status hierarchies. So why do the men rule?


Some conclusions:

  • Sexes and genders are socially constructed identities

  • Nations are sexualized and gendered

  • International politics are at the same time intersexual and gendered politics

  • There is nothing natural or inevitable about masculine and feminine inter-national politics, or about masculinized and feminized national and inter-national identities politics.


IP Lecture 3

How is the world organized economically?

The global economic order

  1. We have a capitalist system

  2. When thinking of a global economic order, one tries to explain all the economic practice taking place

  3. The global economic order is constantly changing

  4. You even do something to the global economic order when you go shopping


There have been multiple forms of capitalism:

  1. mercantile capitalism->a product of colonialism

  2. industrial capitalism

  3. financial capitalism


Global economy post-WWII

  1. Institutions were important in shaping the current capitalism

  2. The Bretton-Woods system was created, including the IBRD (International Bank of Reconstruction and Development/World Bank) and the IMF (the International Monetary Fund)

  3. This system was created to maintain peace and establish the rules of financial relations

  4. There were politics behind this, not just the economy


Globalisation of trade

  • From 1948 to 1994 the GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs) was created to stimulate and enhance international trade

  • The GATT was a treaty and the member states were bound by the principle of pacta sunt servanda;

  • ‘States that are economically dependent will not go to war with each other’

  • In 1994, the WTO (World Trade Organisation) replaced the GATT

  • If a country isn’t a member of the WTO, it has a big disadvantage


About the WTO

  • Its mission is to supervise and liberalise world trade

  • dealing with the rules of trade between nations

  • polices member countries’ adherence to all the WTO agreements

  • current work comes from the 1986-94 negotiations (Uruguay round)

  • negotiations are currently being held under the Doha Development Agenda (2001-?) (the current negotiations are taking forever)


Resistance to the globalisation of liberalisation

  • The Battle of Seattle was a demonstration against neoliberal globalisation

  • The question is whether liberalisation is a good, a bad, a necessary, an unstoppable process and if there’s an alternative

  • Neoliberal globalisation is the freeing of the market and thus the diminishing of the states’ involvement

  • It was the idea of the Washington consensus, but there was a lot of protest



  1. When thinking of a global economic order, one tries to explain all the economic practice taking place in the world

  2. But, such ‘order’ is by necessity a shifting one. Today’s global economic order and the practice of liberalisation are not inevitable

  3. Remember that institutions are the result of power relations


The neoliberal project is both a belief system and practice that has come to dominate the management of the global economy. As a belief system, it rests on the notion that development (which is an indispensable condition to eradicate poverty) should occur as an unintended feature of the market rather than planning.


How can we end poverty?

Standardising poverty

We classify poverty into relative, moderate and extreme poverty. Extreme (or absolute) poverty is the deprivation of basic human needs (so food, water, sanitation, health, shelter etc.)

The World Bank sets an International Poverty Line to determine who lives in extreme poverty. Nowadays, this is when someone’s income is below 1.25 USD/day.

Why? Everything that you want to manage, first you have to measure. So you have to determine how to divide the money you have.


IOs and reducing poverty

  • UN (Millennium Development Goals (2000-15)

  • World Bank (poverty reduction strategies (PRSPs)

  • IMF (structural adjustment programs) (SAPs are highly controversial)


poverty reduction and the neoliberal approach

Western economic development is taken as the role model of modernization:

  • Increasing economic growth through economic liberalisation (e.g. free trade)

  • Internal adjustments: privatisation/deregulation


How we developed in Europe and USA made us to be modern today, so we expect poor countries to do the same. There’s only one right path to follow. Those countries are already on that path, but just in an earlier stadium.


Privatisation of water

  • Water is essential

  • World Bank and the privatisation of water: ‘ Securing sustainable financing for the Water sector’

  • The World Bank privatised water in Bolivia, but it was so expensive the Bolivians weren’t able to afford it

  • A renationalisation of water followed



Poverty strategies are modelled on the Western experience more than on the context and experiences of the non-West.


IP Lecture 4

Human rights and citizenship

Human rights involve entitlement to and guaranty of individual freedom against authority. This is carried out by legal practices, such as conventions, declarations, courts and lawyers.


In global politics, there are two pillars of relations/interactions:

International relations; relations and interactions between sovereign states

Transnational relations; relations and interactions between non-state actors and state actors, or non-state actors


You can divide the global field of human rights into multiple levels:

  1. The global level, e.g. the UN Charta, UDHR (Universal Declaration of the Human Rights)

  2. The regional level, e.g. the EU, Africa

  3. The local level, e.g. nation-states


Since the UDHR, there were some more laws carried out in the field of human rights, e.g.;

  1. 1948: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

  2. 1965: Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination

  3. 1979: Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women

  4. 1984: Convention against Torture and other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment

  5. 1989: Convention on the Rights of the Child


The instruments of global human rights:

  1. UNSC (United Nations Security Council) looks at the violations of human rights as threats to international peace

  2. Treaty organs supervise and monitor the observing of human rights

  3. Courts enforce the law

  4. Public opinion, e.g. ‘naming and shaming’

  5. Sovereign states, constitutional nation-states and national courts


The actors of global human rights:

  1. State actors

  2. Non-state actors; NGOs, INGOs, MNC (multinational corporations), criminal organizations, courts etc


The International Criminal Court has been established in 1998. It works since 2002. The ICC can sentence crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide crimes etc committed by the members of the government of a member state or a citizen. It becomes active on initiative of the Prosecutor and is an independent body of international law.


Some conclusions:

  • Human rights are complex and involve multiple levels: global, regional, national, local

  • The field and regimes of human rights have historically grown and continue to grow

  • Increase in human rights, actors, instruments, esp. Globally

  • The field and regimes of human rights are and have been made

How and where do people get their human rights?

  • Globally: protection and enforcement by states, courts, IGOs etc. You can also submit a petition to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR)

  • Regionally: the ECtHR etc.

  • Nationally: national courts, constitutional courts


Does statelessness equate human rightlessness?

Statelessness is a legal condition of not having a nationality. To sue someone or something before a court, a nationality is required. Therefore, sometimes it can be difficult to get treated the way you have the right to.


Human rights can be in conflict, e.g. freedom v. security or the right to self-determination v. human rights enforcement.


The dark sides of human rights:


IP Lecture 5


Part I: War

The concept of war is contested; there is not 1 single definition.

Carl von Clausewitz, who lived from 1780 till 1831, wrote down the following definitions:

‘War is an act of force intended to compel out opponents to fulfil our will’ and ‘a continuation of politics by other means’


The evolution of war:

In the modern era (18th-20th century), war was primarily in the form of state-to-state military rivalry. States began to mobilize mass armies so that they would be prepared for war. Wars today (in after the end of the Cold War), there was a significant decrease of wars and deaths, but the form of war has changed.


The postmodern era: (end 1900s-now)

Globalization has led to new communication technologies. This creates new threats, actors, battlegrounds and war making. Examples of the new warfare are media warfare (Arab spring), cyberwarfare and asymmetric warfare (terrorism)


The New Wars (since 1980s) are for 95% happening within states. This is seen as a consequence of globalization. In this way, states are losing their sovereignty.


Post-Westphalian Wars are often related to poverty, e.g. water wars. These wars are fought by militias, private security firms etc.



  1. Wars are a socially structured form of large-scale group behavior

  2. Wars must be understood in the context of their political and cultural environments

  3. Wars are catalyst for historical change


Part II: Peace

There is also not a clear definition of peace. Mostly said is: Peace is the absence of war. We could also try to reverse Clausewitz: Peace is the absence of the continuation of politics by other means. So by military force? By violence? First we have to question what violence is.


According to Kant, perpetual peace is the ‘perpetual eradication of war.’


The requirements for peace are:

  1. League of peace (between sovereign states)

  2. Self-legislation of states (with categorical imperatives)


After WWI the League of Nations was established, after WWII the United Nations were established.


In the charter of the United Nations, the first Article states that the purpose of UN is to maintain international security and peace. It is the biggest IO with this aim.


The UN wants to:

  1. Take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace

  2. Develop friendly relations among nations

  3. Achieve international co-operation in solving international problems

  4. Be a centre for harmonizing the actions of states


The peace acts of the UN are:

  1. Disarmament (eradication of Weapons of Mass Destruction)

  2. Peacekeeping (blue helmets)

  3. Peacemaking (diplomacy)

  4. Peacebuilding (post-war reconstruction)


Peacekeeping is aimed at conflict control, involves UN presence in the field and involves the consent of the parties, to implement or monitor the implementation of arrangements relation to the control of conflicts.


Peacebuilding missions have been deployed to several countries that were recovering from civil wars. Critics say that it is based on the colonial-era belief that the European imperial powers have a duty to ‘civilise’ the countries.


IP Lecture 6


Some state there are 2 million modern slaves in world today. Migrants are the most vulnerable to slavery; they make a lot of debt during their travel. When they get to the state of destination, they have to work in bad circumstances to pay off their debts.


Why is it possible there is still so much slavery, especially since the UN Charter abolished it?


There are 3 important concepts:

Imperialism: unequal human and territorial relationships with formal or informal foreign command and control.

Colonialism: unequal human and territorial relationships with foreign command, control and exploitation for commercial purposes

Decolonization: the historical process of undoing colonialism and colonies


There are settler colonies (colonists that stay for a long time like the US) and domination colonies (that don’t plan to stay for a very long time like the UK)


The most important question is: is the modern world post-colonialist or neo-colonialist?

Post-colonialism states that colonialism is ending, and we are in a transition fase right now. Neo-colonialism states that colonialism continues, but in a different form.


In the mid-19th century, the so called Scramble for Africa took place, where a lot of African countries were colonialized. Political and diplomatic matters that regarded European powers were played out there. In 1884-1885 the Berlin Conference Act (/Congo Act) was established. There weren’t any African representatives at the conference. The topic of the conference were the issues and conflicts arising out of the ‘European expansion’.


After WWI the League of Nations and with that the Mandate System was established. This was to prevent a new scramble. The long term goals of this mandate system were the well-being, development and self-determination of former colonies. Only Iraq gained independence in 1932. Still it had to take into consideration British advice, because it wasn’t ‘mature enough’ to run its own foreign policy.


After WWII the UN Trusteeship System was established. This system with respect for self-determination wanted to held territories under Mandates and detach them from ‘enemy states’. States were voluntarily placed under the system.



  1. The concepts of imperialism and colonialism are related, but they do not refer to the same socio-historical phenomena.

  2. Imperial mindsets support imperial and colonial practices

  3. Colonial practices persist despite the (start of the) end of colonialism after WWII and the decolonization in 1994



Some post-colonial encounters in today’s world are modern slavery, economic path dependencies, development discourse, fundamentalist movements, the ‘whitemen’s burden’ and failed states.


The European sovereignty regime in history entailed that a state had the highest authority and external independence. Leading was: cuius regio, eius religio: he who rules, his religion is leading. The difference between intra and extra-European started to play a role. They weren’t that different regarding sovereignty, but after the Enlightenment and liberalism this changed.


There were two separate regimes regarding sovereignty in 19C:

In Europe: great and small sovereign states, even support for creation of sovereign states (like Belgium) where communities lacked initially the traits. (Europe had interest of creating buffer states)

Outside Europe: withholding of recognition.


The sovereignty regime of the League of Nations:

The main principle is that a sovereign state is fully self-governing and independent. There was the principle of territorial integrity and the principle of the international trusteeship.


The global sovereignty regimes in the 21C:

Many states today are former colonies. Many conflicts are related to these colonial and imperial legacies (e.g. Palestine/Israel). The global sovereignty regime sets the standards for instance of good/insufficient/bad or failed governance and governments.


Failed states are for example Somalia and Congo.


Religion in politics:

The separation between religion and politics is a part of the gobal sovereignty regime today. This secularism is seen as an accomplishment, tied to Enlightenment and liberalism. The separation is in practice not always strictly enforced in Europe.



  1. Imperialism and colonialism relate to many contemporary conflicts over territories

  2. Imperialism and colonialism do not belong to the past; they are virulent as mindsets and practices in today’s postcolonial world

  3. Imperial and colonial legacies in the context of IR, such as the separation between politics and religion, are referred to as a problem of Eurocentrism.

IP Lecture 7


The Anthropocene is a new geological era in which human beings are the greatest force in reshaping the environment. Practices of this shaping are over-use of resources, pesticide overuse, CO2 emission etc.


How might global environmental degradation be an effect of human action? In the 19th century, the industrialization started to come up. With the new inventions such as the steam engine and cars, humanity started to emit more and more greenhouse gasses. This process is called carboniferous capitalism.


Can we save the planet? In the 20th century, global politics started to see the environment as a problem. Before, it was mostly the concern of environmental movements. The reasons for this change were advances in scientific knowledge and a cognitive shift from local environments to interdependent planetary biosphere. This means that we realize all forests, seas, swaps etc. are in a way connected and that we can’t see the environment as a vague, far away phenomenon but that we live right in it.


How has the international system of sovereign states tackled global environmental change? The recognition that the environment as a global problem needs a global solution is called global environmental governance. Normally the process of governing is done by government. However, in the absence of a world government, governance refers to the regulatory practice of any authoritative body such as a group of state like the United Nations or public-private partnerships between governmental and non-governmental organizations like Green Peace.


Some key moments in the process from international cooperation to global governance were:

The UN Conference on Human Environment in 1972, the Brundtland Commission in 1987, the entry of the concept Sustainable Development in 1987 (the link between development and environment, before often seen as a conflict), the IPCC in 1988, the Earth Summit in 1992, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and finally the Kyoto Protocol in 2005.


Some initiative were: controlling pollution, creating an international legal framework and international norms, building capacity (sustainable development), sharing scientific knowledge and the governing of the commons. The global commons are the resources or fields belonging to more than one sovereign jurisdiction, e.g. the oceans.


Some conclusions:

  • The notion of the Anthropocene is highly contested, although it is definitely worth thinking about the historical role of human impact on the environment

  • From the 2960s, international environmental politics gradually became global environmental politics to tackle the environmental issues.


In the last 20 years, a climate change is happening. There are more and more greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere because of the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and an increase in methane emissions. This causes a global temperature change. However, there are disagreements about this change. Some parties state that it is a natural process which humans have nothing to do with. The climate change has drastic effects; weather patterns are changing, there is an increase in number and intensity of storms and hurricanes and the sea level rises.


The climate change can be considered as a problem for more fields of international politics.

Geo-politics: it can be a threat to small island states and to global energy security

Free trade: it can be a consequence of the (neo)liberal project

Poverty and inequality: the distribution of CO2 emissions can be unfair


The ecological footprint is unequally distributed in the world. The ecological footprint is ‘a resource account tool that helps countries understand their ecologial balance sheet and gives them the data necessary to manage their resources and secure their future’, according to footprintnetwerk.org.


To challenge carboniferous capitalism, the Kyoto Protocol introduced a market in rights to pollute in order to reduce emissions. So power has a big role in climate change.


If we want to save the planet, how are we going to do that? Maybe we can use indigenous knowledge to help rethink the problem of climate change. Indigenous ideologies included respect towards nature and considering the biosphere as a whole.



  • The problem of climate change is a problem of global trade, of security and geopolitics, of power, poverty and inequality.



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