International relations is a field of study that examines the interactions and relationships between countries and other actors in the global system. One of the key elements of international relations is the role played by political actors, such as governments, political parties, and non-state actors. These actors have agendas defined by various goals that align with their ideologies, interests and principles. To achieve these goals, political actors employ complex interactions, such as negotiations, diplomacy, coalition building and lobbying. They also use diverse institutions, such as international organizations, regional bodies, civil society organizations, and even media outlets, to achieve their agendas. Using various institutions and interaction modes increases the chances of achieving their goals and agendas in the international arena.
The explanation of international relations helps to understand its development. The field clearly defines the separation between civil society and the government.
International relations in the 18th century were shaped by the rise of nation-states and new forms of diplomacy and international cooperation. The 18th century was a time of significant change and upheaval, marked by the rise of new powers such as Great Britain, France, and Russia and the decline of traditional empires such as Spain and the Ottoman Empire.
During this time, the balance of power in Europe was constantly shifting, and wars between the major powers were common. The 18th century also saw the emergence of new forms of diplomacy, such as the use of permanent embassies and the development of international treaties and conventions.
In addition, the 18th century saw the growth of international trade and commerce and the rise of new forms of economic relations between countries. The idea of mercantilism, which held that a country’s wealth was directly related to its stock of gold and silver, was prevalent. The 18th century also saw the start of the colonial era, which significantly impacted international relations and the global power dynamic.
International relations have become more complex in modern times due to several factors. One of the main reasons is the world’s increasing interconnectedness, as countries and other actors are more connected than ever through trade, travel, and communication. This means that the actions of one government or actor can have a ripple effect on others, making it more difficult to predict how events will unfold.
Another reason international relations are more complex in modern times is the emergence of new actors on the global stage, such as non-state actors and transnational organizations, which have gained significant influence in the international system. This has added new dimensions to international relations, as these actors often have different goals and interests than traditional state actors.
The changing nature of security and the emergence of new security challenges also add to the complexity of international relations. Issues such as terrorism, cyber warfare, migration, and environmental degradation are becoming more prominent and are increasingly interconnected. This requires a more comprehensive approach to understanding and addressing them.
International relations and international law are important in promoting better diplomacy among nations. People rely on international relations to reduce their dependence on the protection of individual states. They trust that their leaders will effectively represent them in the global community to ensure their safety. The principles of sovereignty and legal systems have helped to stabilize international relations by promoting diplomacy and political experience. The development of international relations has primarily been shaped by Western civilization since the Renaissance era. The balance of power is a crucial factor in determining how nations interact with each other.
Ancient Empires and International Relations
Many of the ancient dynasties were heavily reliant on their economic truces. These ancient empires and their relationships with other states were the key components that defined the role of diplomacy and treaties in old international relations. Realism was a significant concept that explained the evolution of international relations theory. This link was initially outlined by Macchiavelli, who wrote a political idea that looked at the diplomacy of the renaissance Italian city-states. It explained international relations in a different light than the normative theory, which the Christian emissaries advanced. This literature was prevalent during medieval times. The underpinning factors mainly looked at how nation-states conducted themselves regarding historical circumstances.
The original international system was the “Westphalian system”. This structure was named after the Westphalian Peace of 1648. Many scholars looked at international relations in ancient times. Disciplines such as realism, liberalism, and radicalism were focused on this topic. They view international relations as an enduring propensity for competition and conflicts between states. Liberalism argued that international relations in ancient times were used to mitigate conflictive tendencies between nation-states. Radicalism scholars argued that the entire state system relations could be transformed to allow for higher levels of diplomacy.
The Emergence of Modern States and International Relations
The Treaty of Westphalia significantly impacted the formation of the modern state. It was during this period that the concept of sovereignty gained strength. It is the founding block for the emergence of international organizations and contemporary international law. The Peace of Westphalia was constituted through a series of peace treaties. Numerous states agreed between May and October 1648 to end the years of war. The leading incumbents of the treaties were the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück and Münster.
There were a series of battles in Central Europe during 1618 – 1648. These states were mainly warring as the Protestant and Catholic states had become divided because of the Holy Roman Empire. During 1568-1648 there was a war among the Dutch for Independence. During this war, Phillip II of Spain was fighting to entrench his political and religious rule over the seventeen provinces. The significant wars lasted close to 30 and 80 years, respectively.
This moment was the birth of international relations as the treaties allowed Christians of non-dominant denominations the right to practice their faith. This agreement introduced multiple territorial adjustments that allowed for the establishment of a peace precedent. It introduced the concept of exclusive sovereignty, as each state was given the authority to rule its land and people. To deliberate, a diplomatic congress was commissioned to help usher in a new system of the political order in Europe.
For international relations to succeed, it was based on co-existing sovereign states. The Westphalian principle helped establish a working peace order that recognised a country’s sovereignty. The right to decide its public policy and law systems helped shape the state of international law today. The global system designed through the Westphalia accords was later violated when European countries moved to colonize countries in Asia and Africa during the 19th century. The plan later struggled again due to two global wars in the 20th century.
The Cold War and the Globalization of International Relations
Globalization and the Cold War significantly impacted the international relations system. During the cold war, many scholars argued this battle was due to a struggle for power between self-interested nation-states. The realism approach dominated international relations during the 20th century. International relations viewed nations as being pessimistic and insecure. It argued that these nations mainly sought to eliminate conflict through war. To reduce war, it was essential to understand imperialism, alliances, impediments in cooperation, and unplanned international phenomena. The notion that human beings had an innate desire for domination was vital in understanding how wars start.
Contemporary International Relations
Terrorism, global governance, and environmental sustainability are the key challenges facing the current international relations systems. International organizations have a significant role to play in managing contemporary international relations.
The history of international relations is a complex and multifaceted subject. It is shaped by various factors and influences that must be understood to grasp the current state of affairs. By studying this history, we can gain valuable insights into the workings of international relations and use this knowledge to improve our diplomatic decisions. The interconnections and interdependencies between nations play a critical role in shaping their actions and behaviour. By taking these into account, we can gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and decisions of other countries.