By Jill Steans, Lloyd Pettiford, Thomas Diez and Imad El-Anis
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Additional resources for An Introduction to International Relations Theory Perspectives and Themes Third edition
Themes Peace and security As we suggested earlier, liberalism is a paradigm which has a faith in the capacity of human beings to solve seemingly intractable problems through political action. The notion that human beings understand moral principles suggests that it is possible to transcend ‘power politics’ and govern relations between people (and indeed peoples) on the basis of legal norms, moral principles and according to what is ‘right’ and ‘just’. However, liberalism should not be confused with pacifism.
If humans are seen as inherently good, rational and have more interest in cooperation than conflict, liberals argue that democratic governments will be peaceful. A peaceful world order is also likely to be one in which human rights are respected and upheld. WORLD EXAMPLE BOX The United Nations The United Nations (UN) was set up after the Dumbarton Oaks conference in 1944 in order to ‘save successive generations from the scourge of war’. The conference was attended by only the USA and its wartime allies, including Britain and France, the Soviet Union, and China but, despite this limited representation, nearly all of the basic features of the new organisation were agreed at that meeting.
Liberal internationalism is based on the idea of a harmony of interests between the states and peoples of the world and, in good part, these mutual interests are rooted in the mutual benefits which arise from trade and economic integration. However, just as Smith recognised the need for certain ‘public goods’, liberals acknowledge that in order to have peace it is necessary to establish international institutions which can overcome the problem of anarchy and facilitate cooperation. We will return to the theme of cooperation, and the role of institutions in providing sound governance of international relations shortly.
An Introduction to International Relations Theory Perspectives and Themes Third edition by Jill Steans, Lloyd Pettiford, Thomas Diez and Imad El-Anis