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  1. Introduction

The international relations theory attempts to provide a conceptual model upon which are analyzed the international relations , its implications and how it is studied and understood the participation of actors and their influence in the international system . Each theory helps to understand the birth of international relations as a separate subject area within the political science, and profound changes and reflections to present. Each is reductive and essentialist to different degrees, respectively based on different sets of assumptions. Political scientist, Daniel Arosa describes theories of international relations act as a pair of coloured glasses, allowing the viewer to see only the events relevant to each theory (Epstein, 2008). An adherent of realism may completely disregard an event that a constructivist defines as crucial, and vice versa. This paper discusses the idea present by the liberal school of thought in international relations that international system is based on co-operation and consensus building through strong international institutions.

The number and nature of the assumptions made ​​by a theory also determines its usefulness. The realism, parsimonious and essentialist theory, it is useful to review historical actions (e.g. why X invaded to Y), but limited in both explaining systemic changes (like the end of the Cold War). The liberalism, meanwhile, examines a very large number of conditions, and is quite insightful to analyze past events. None of these theories is to predict future events, and that the presumed “scientific” take the idea that science explains this behaviour and does not predict the future (Epstein, 2008). For liberals, international relations are perceived as a factor of progress and change. At both international and national level, liberals emphasize the notion of power against power. They insist on the role of public opinion, law and international institutions, which come to limit the power of states. Nowadays, this must face the forces of global capitalism that undermine the apparent “victory” of liberal democracy after the end of the Cold War. Among the large current liberal authors, Joseph Nye emphasizes the concept of soft power and the Robert Keohane developed with complex interdependence. Group called for the creation of international institutions to replace the anarchic system of balance of power that dominated the period before the First World War. This new system would be based on the principle of collective security, which claims that an act of aggression by any state would be perceived as aggression towards all States. The League of Nations embodied this principle, reflecting the idealistic emphasis on the possibility of international cooperation as the primary mechanism to solve global problems (Beth, Frank & Geoffrey 2006).




  1. Liberalism

The precursor of the liberal theory of international relations was the idealism, however, this term was applied critically by those who saw themselves as “realistic” as Edward Hallett Carr. Liberalism holds that state preferences rather than their capabilities, are the primary determinant of their behaviour. Unlike realism where the state is seen as a unitary actor, liberalism allows for plurality in state actions. Thus, preferences vary among states, depending on factors such as culture, economic system or government type. Liberalism also holds that interaction between states is not limited to political security, but also economic and cultural aspects. Thus, instead of an anarchic international system, there are several opportunities for cooperation and broad power options such as cultural capital (Hobhouse, 2009).

The liberalism is a philosophical, economic and political, which promotes civil liberties and opposes any form of despotism, appealing to republican principles. It is the power that is based on both the rule of law, such as representative democracy and the separation of powers.

Advocates primarily by (Aneek, N.A.):

  • The development of individual freedoms and, from them, the progress of society.
  • The establishment of a rule of law, where all people are equal before the law, without privileges or distinctions, in compliance with a very minimal framework of laws that protect the liberties of the people.

Liberalism emerged from the struggle against absolutism , partly inspiring the organization of the rule of law with limited powers -that ideally would reduce government functions to security, justice and public works, and subjected to a constitution that allowed the emergence of liberal democracy during the eighteenth century , still in force today in many nations today, especially in the West. By promoting economic freedom, liberalism stripped of economic regulations of absolutism to companies where he applied, allowing the natural development of the market economy and the progressive rise of capitalism.

  1. International Liberalism

International Liberalism emphasizes the interconnection between national and international changes. The practices of actors in shaping international institutions affect actors turn in their perceptions and define their own interests and preferences. The approach is thus open to all kinds of explanations including historical, cultural and equal power base beads, provided that they are mediated by international standards. The emphasis on changing government regulations also suggests that ideas or principles of systems and perceptions are taken more seriously than material capabilities. To be more precise, the material capabilities could affect the practices of the actors in the processes of reasoning. Institutional Liberalism must be complemented by other approaches, particularly those that focus on the “unit-level”. Liberal International is a political international federation for liberal parties. The international federation has become the strengthening of liberalism worldwide and the network that carries the liberal parties. It was established in 1947 in the city of Oxford. Its fundamental principles are: social justice, tolerance, environmental sustainability, respect for human rights, free and fair elections and a sense of solidarity (Jackson, Robert and Sorensen & Georg, 2007).

The international liberalism is understood not as political and philosophical tradition, but as a set of practices, institutions and values, is a complex web of practices, principles and institutions extending over a wide range of political, economic, ideological, etc. Liberal modernity is conceived as a training social and, outside of the States as an international order. Those states, whose social fabric is fully involved in these practices, institutions, etc.., are the centre of the liberal order. But it is necessary that a state is democratic to be enrolled in the international liberalism and participate in relationship networks liberals. As the example of numerous Latin American countries, it is not necessary to participate in all these areas always that the State in question or want or can hinder the decision process or to challenge the contours of that order.

One of the pillars of analysis Latham is the critique of liberal vision war. For liberalism, war is a discrete phenomenon and timely, but forgets that this would not be possible if the relations between states are not based in constant preparation for military confrontation. The absence of war among democracies does not mean that the liberal order is not based on militarization, the existence of an international military order, which encompasses and extends beyond democratic states. These States are enrolled in a network of relationships-liberal international order-including nondemocratic states, and while the former can approach in its relations with the Union Pacific, global militarization continue to increase (Keohane, 1988).

Latham concludes that the existence of the democratic peace can be linked to hegemonic leadership tendency to involve all states in a strategic military order (Raustiala, 2002). It may be that the shared values ​​of liberalism contributed to its international success. Those who weigh those values ​​as explanation for the lack of conflict between liberal democratic states should consider “that may be these values ​​manifest in different logical liberalism, which help to define precisely the contours of militarization liberal’ (Keohane, 1988).

  1. Cooperation under Anarchy

While realists emphasize most intransigent obstacles to international cooperation in an anarchic world, other experts agree the most important part of the assumptions of the realist paradigm, but soften the proposition that stable cooperation between states is virtually impossible in the absence of hegemonic imposition. The version of the rational choice theory of the system, for example, argues that state actors should be engaged in cooperative behaviour to solve the “dilemmas of common interests and the common hostility”. This perspective is not intended to provide a general theory of international relations. It focuses on the conditions under which cooperation can mitigate “security dilemma”. Although a confrontation unlimited leaves both parties in poor condition (financial), states often prefer unilateral debt mutual cooperation (this is the prisoner’s dilemma). There are three arguments to explain why the dropout problem can be overcome despite the security dilemma (Mearsheimer, 1994):

  • If the interaction is repeated in the structure or in the basic plan of a long-term, it is expected that the “shadow of the future” limit the conflict of partners from seeking short-term gains through unilateral defection.
  • If you get cheating benefits are relatively small compared to the benefits of mutual cooperation, the agreement should be easier.
  • Cooperation is also more appropriate if specific agreements can be established broad international agreements.
  1. Role of International Institutions

Liberal institutionalism maintains the idea that international relations are governed by conventions, international regimes and organizations. Liberal Theories of International Relations have strong statements about international cooperation. Generally shared desire that the behaviour and understanding are constitutive, i.e. they have the power to establish laws to the success of the interactions. International institutions set the rules in international policy setting common standards for appropriate behaviour.

International institutions change because the practices of the actors change. The practices must be transformed for a variety of reasons, changing ideas and assessment systems, power resources, or technologies. Thus, institutional liberals have no preconceived notions about the hidden causes of change in international politics. To explain the transformation of the practices of the actors, one has to make additional assumptions of national policies or strategies for cooperation. The institutional liberalism emphasizes the development of conventions, which exclude certain areas of the competition. The most important concerns the inviolability of post-war borders and preserving the “status quo” territorial. International institutions do not provide or might be able to provide the goods and resources on which depends the survival and functioning of states, since those resources (financial, social, administrative) are provided or rely on the citizens of each State (Ruggie, 1982).

International institutions lack the characteristic features of the state of which depends to a large extent, the plausibility of the demanding and peculiar conception of political legitimacy defended by political liberalism in the domestic front, which looks like a reason enough to conclude that the principle-or a version adapted to the new context-not an appropriate regulatory criteria to be applied to the regulation of such institutions. There is no obstacle from the perspective of political liberalism to liberal peoples is guided its foreign policy and its participation in international institutions fundamental political ideals of political culture: democratic ideals, freedoms and guarantees characteristics of democracies modern constitutional and consistent conception of human rights. Internationally it is very important to have these institutions because they represent thoughtful reflection and courageous proposal: two concepts that politicians, no matter how liberal they are, cannot always be as present as they would like or should (Changhe, 2004).




Aneek, Chatterjee (N.A.), International Relations Today: Concepts and Applications, New Delhi: Pearson Education India

Beth A. Simmons, Frank Dobbin and Geoffrey Garrett (2006), Introduction: The International Diffusion of Liberalism, International Organization, Vol. 60(4), pp. 781-810

Changhe , Su (2004), Liberalism and World Politics:The Enlightenment of Liberal International Relations Theory, World Economics and Politics, ISSN:1006-9550.0.2004-07-002

Epstein, Rachel A. (2008), In Pursuit of Liberalism: International Institutions in Post communist Europe, Baltimore: JHU Press, pp. 147-156

Epstein, Rachel A. (2008), In Pursuit of Liberalism: International Institutions in Post communist Europe, Baltimore: JHU Press, pp. 45-85

Hobhouse, L. T. (2009), Liberalism, Teddignton: Echo Library, pp. 14-30

Jackson, Robert and Sorensen, Georg (2007), Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 150-175

Keohane, Robert O.  (1988), International Institutions: Two Approaches, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32(4), pp. 379-396

Mearsheimer, John J. (1994), The False Promise of International Institutions, International Security, Vol. 19(3), pp. 5-49

Raustiala, Kal (2002), The Architecture of International Cooperation: Transgovernmental Networks and the Future of International Law, Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 43, pp 1-53

Ruggie, John Gerard (1982), International regimes, transactions, and change: embedded liberalism in the post war economic order, International Organization, Vol. 36(2), pp. 379-415




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