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the analysis of international cooperation

: This essay will apply classical theories of international relations to the analysis of international cooperation on both theoretical and practical levels. Theories of International Cooperation: 1) Realism: Realism holds that the aims of every state are to aggregate power and neutralize enemies. States feel threatened by their rivals amassing excessive power and go great lengths to undermine it. Seemingly, international cooperation is impossible under the doctrine of idealism.

However, realists agree that lasting peace can exist in the international system — on the conditions of a stable balance of power (Newmann, 1999). A typical example of such stability in international system is the Cold War era: the USSR and the US had to cooperate in solving acute international crises and also with other countries with a view to building strong coalitions to contain the enemy. 2) Idealism/Liberalism: This theory holds that cooperation rather than rivalry is the dominant form of interactions between states.

However, states are still acting out of their rational self-interest; they assume that cooperation brings more benefits than conflict. All states strive to achieve the lofty goal of creating a more just world order by formulating and conforming to the norms of international law (Newmann, 1999). 3) Neo-liberalism/Liberal Internationalism: This approach mirrors the key assumptions of liberalism but focuses more on the role of multilateral institutions in the international system.

In other words, this theory holds that international cooperation is stimulated and facilitated by intentional organizations (Newmann, 1999). 4) Constructivism: This theory avoids making broad generalization and suggests that each state formulates its foreign policy in line with its own domestic developments. It also perceives states as having an identity on the international arena, and conflict is the consequence of a clash of such identities (Newmann, 1999). International cooperation happens when each separate state decides that cooperating would fit its interest and enhance its identity.

Practice of International Cooperation: 1) International Organizations: There are two dominant types of international organizations, namely governmental organizations (IGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and both of them are now recognized as important actors of international relations. As Jordan et. al. (2001, p. 17) note, ‘[t]he number of IGOs and INGOs has grown tremendously. ’ This phenomenon was fueled by the realization that many contemporary challenges – like environment or migration – can be addressed only internationally.

2) Foreign Aid: Under realism doctrine, giving out foreign aid contradicts the nature and intentions of states, yet liberalist would argue that foreign aid might serve the cause of building a more just world order. However, there might be a more earthy explanation: since many contemporary problems (such as poverty, diseases, environmental degradation, or refugees) transcend borders, enhancing overall well-being of the nations implies enhancing the well-being of one’s own nation.

3) Collective Military Action: Peacekeeping operations, mandated and carried out by international organizations such as the UN or NATO, have lost prominence under the conditional of unipolarity and US dominance. The US often uses military action to pursue certain foreign policy aims, thus constructivist framework is most suitable for analyzing such transient military arrangements as, for example, the Coalition of the Willing. 4) Cultural Exchange: This area of international cooperation includes ‘sports, religious affairs, cultural activities, and the like’ (Jordan , 2001, p. 34).

Global sports competitions, e. g. the Olympic Games, or major cultural gatherings, e. g. Cannes Film Festival, are important landmarks in international life.


Jordan, R. S. , Archer, C. , Granger, G. P. , & Ordes, K. (2001). International Organizations: A Comparative Approach to the Management of Cooperation, 4th Ed. New York: Praeger Paperback. Newmann, B. (1999). ‘A Brief Introduction to Theories on International Relations and Foreign Policy. ’ Retrieved October 2, 2007, from http://www. people. vcu. edu/~wnewmann/468theory. htm

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