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While member-state structures—the number, relative sizes, and demographic characteristics of states in federal regimes—could be thought to be one of the defining features of different federations, the comparative literature has paid relatively little attention to this important topic. There is the well-known distinction between “coming together” and “holding together” federations, but this has not led to comparative examinations of how these different formative experiences relate to the member-state structure of a federation, its evolution over time, and the processes for defining new or revised member-states. There has been more comparative attention to differences between “ethnic” and “territorial” federations, but often with limited linkage to other variables, such as the number and relative sizes of the member-states. For example, the literature on consociational power-sharing arrangements in central federal governmental institutions has largely neglected consideration of how the member-state structure and the pattern of territorial cleavages in the society affect the likelihood or form of power-sharing arrangements. This relates to the need to see the political geometry of federations in their broader social context: how the member-state structure compares with the underlying social and territorial cleavages in the country. While these cleavages may affect the member-state structure of the federation, they will certainly affect the political dynamics as institutional arrangements and societal pressures interact.

Article

Since the mid-20 century, corporations have gained increasing political and economic power to shape the living conditions, lifestyles, governance processes, and environmental exposures that determine global patterns of health and disease. Globalization, the growth of the financial sector, deregulation, and increasing corporate control of science and technology have provided corporations with new power to influence the mechanisms that determine human and planetary health. A growing body of public health and social science scholarship analyzes how corporate use of this economic and political power has become a fundamental determinant of the most serious health crises facing the world. In response, governments, civil society groups and social movements have developed new strategies to challenge corporate power to shape global health governance, protect public health, and reduce health inequities.

Article

Pablo Nemiña and María Emilia Val

International financial organizations that lend to developing countries are the subject of controversy. Their functions, structures and effectiveness have generated important debates across disciplines, analysts and positions on the ideological-political spectrum. What interests and logic motivate the international financial institutions’ (IFIs) loans? Following an international political economy perspective and mainly based on the literature produced in the early 21st century, we analyze the role played by three variables: the geopolitical and financial interests of powerful global actors, institutional and bureaucratic logic, and the borrower’s interest and domestic policy. These three variables interact and influence the financial decisions made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the major regional development banks (the Inter-American Development Bank [IADB], Asian Development Bank [AsDB], and African Development Bank [AfDB]). On the other hand, what are the main economic and political effects in the recipient countries? The IMF’s credit tackles balance-of-payments crises mainly through adjusting domestic output and consumption, which usually has negative social costs. Development bank lending has diverse effects. Although it tends to boost growth and strengthen domestic accountability, it does not always guarantee the attainment of development goals. In this sense, the literature has found negative impacts on labor rights and forestry, while improvements in health and education cannot always be sustained in the long run.

Article

Emmanuel Balogun

The study of regionalism has experienced numerous transformations and focal points. Comparative regionalism has emerged as the next wave of scholarship on regional cooperation and integration in international relations. What differentiates comparative regionalism from this earlier scholarship? There are three research themes that characterize the field of comparative regionalism: (a) an empirical focus on regional identity formation as a way of distinguishing between autonomous regions, (b) decentering Europe as the main reference point of comparative regionalism, and (c) defining what is truly “comparative” about comparative regionalism. These research themes emerge in a global context, where regional cooperation and integration are being tested from all sides by events such as Brexit in Europe, elusive global cooperation in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and challenges to democratic stability across the globe. While the development of regionalism has primarily been concerned about the defining of regions and the world order context in which regional cooperation emerges and sustains itself, the interrelated themes of regional identity formation and the decentering of Europe in comparative regionalism drive the comparative regionalism agenda, giving substance to the identification and measurement of the “local” and other context-specific mechanisms of regionalism. While these three themes are helpful in discerning the state of the comparative regionalism research agenda, they also have some limitations. While comparative regionalism is progressive in its integration of constructivist ideas of identity formation, its project of withering Eurocentrism, and its methodological flexibility, comparative regionalism research would be well served to incorporate more reflexive and interpretivist research practices and methods, particularly to serve the goal of offering new knowledge and theories of regional cooperation in the Global South that are not tethered to Europe.

Article

Kyle M. Lascurettes and Michael Poznansky

International relations scholars of all stripes have long been interested in the idea of “international order.” At the most general level, international order entails some level of regularity, predictability, and stability in the ways that actors interact with one another. At a level of higher specificity, however, international orders can vary along a number of dimensions (or fault lines). This includes whether order is thin or thick, premised on position or principles, regional or global in scope, and issue specific or multi-issue in nature. When it comes to how orders emerge, the majority of existing explanations can be categorized according to two criteria and corresponding set of questions. First, are orders produced by a single actor or a select subset of actors that are privileged and powerful, or are they created by many actors that are roughly equal and undifferentiated in capabilities and status? Second, do orders come about from the purposive behavior of particular actors, or are they the aggregated result of many behaviors and interactions that produce an outcome that no single actor anticipated? The resulting typology yields four ideal types of order explanations: hegemonic (order is intentional, and power is concentrated), centralized (order is spontaneous, but power is concentrated), negotiated (order is intentional, but power is dispersed), and decentralized (order is spontaneous, and power is dispersed). Finally, it is useful to think about the process by which order can transform or break down as a phenomenon that is at least sometimes distinct from how orders emerge in the first place. The main criterion in this respect is the rapidity with which orders transform or break down. More specifically, they can change or fall apart quickly through revolutionary processes or more gradually through evolutionary ones.

Article

Laura Gómez-Mera

A regime complex is an array of overlapping international institutions and agreements that interact to govern in a particular issue area of international relations. International regime complexity refers to the international political dynamics that emerge from the interaction among multiple overlapping institutions within regime complexes. Scholars have identified several factors explaining the emergence of regime complexes and the growing regime complexity in world politics. Some have emphasized the functional rationale for creating institutional linkages to contain negative spillovers across regimes. Others have focused instead on actors’ incentives, pointing to the various expected benefits of governing through regime complexes rather than through separate comprehensive institutions. Scholars have also disagreed about the consequences of regime complexes and, in particular, about the extent to which regime complexity facilitates or hinders international cooperation. The early literature tended to emphasize how institutional proliferation and fragmentation contributed to regulatory conflicts, thus undermining global governance outcomes. By contrast, other works provide a more nuanced account of the effects of regime overlaps, showing that under certain conditions regime complexity contributes to the effectiveness of cooperation. A rich body of empirical evidence drawn from the study of regime complexes in several issue areas, including environmental, trade, security, migration, and public health governance, suggests that what matters is not the fragmentation and overlaps per se but how they are managed. The increasing institutional density and overlaps in international politics in the 21st century has generated significant interest among scholars of international relations (IR). The literature on international regime complexity and regime complexes has evolved theoretically and empirically since the beginning of the 12st century. Three main questions have guided and informed theoretical debates and empirical research on regime complexes. First, what are regime complexes and how are they composed? What is meant by international regime complexity? Second, what causes regime complexity and how do regime complexes emerge? And third, what are the effects and consequences of regime complexity?

Article

Amaya Querejazu

Global governance has become part of the international relations vocabulary. As an analytical category and as a political project it is a strong tool that illustrates the major complexities of world politics in contexts of globalization. The study of global governance has expanded and superseded traditional approaches to international relations that focus on relations among states. Moreover, the study of global governance and has included nonstate actors and their dynamics into a more intricate thematic agenda of global politics. However, global governance has become less a political space of deliberation and more of a managerial aspect of world politics because of some assumptions about reality, humanity, and the international community. It would appear that this is a result of the predominance of liberal thought in world politics after the end of the Cold War. Regardless of how diverse the approaches to global governance may appear, the ontological assumptions—that is, the beliefs about reality that are behind its definition, conceptualization, and implementation as political projects—are not neutral nor are they universal. These assumptions respond to specific appreciations of reality and are inherited from Western modernity. The problem with this is that claims to contemplate the interests of humanity as a whole abound in global governance institutions and arrangements, whereas in fact global governance is constructed by neglecting other possible realities about the world. The consequences of this conceptualization are important in the sense that global governance becomes a tool of exclusion. Only by taking into consideration the ontological difference through which global governance can reflect the complexities of a diverse world can one explore the importance of alternative governances as a way to consider how global orders can be approached. Such alternative global governances draw from ontological pluralism and conceive political global orders as based on the coexistence and negotiation of different realities.

Article

Thomas Kwasi Tieku

There has been a proliferation of works on informal dimensions of international relations. Putting the scholarship under the banner of informal international relations (IIR), [A1] the value preposition of research and publications on informal aspects of international political life is critically explored in order to chart promising pathways to further research in this growing field of study. Three generations of IIR scholarship may be identified. The first-generation scholarship took the IIR approach without explicitly acknowledging it. The second-generation scholars treated it primarily as an anomaly that ought to be explained. The third-generation scholarship seeks to give IIR a conceptual clarity, theorize it, and show the analytical utility of the concept. Although the IIR scholarship has given us a new outlook into international political life, the IR literature on informality is biased in at least three ways. First, it focuses mostly on informal politics in international organizations (IOs) housed in Western Europe and North American states. It is insightful and informative in the discussion of informality in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) but lacks similar cutting-edge analysis when it comes to informal aspects of international life in the rest of the world. The IIR scholarship neglects the rich tapestry of materials and insights from the Global South and Eastern Europe. Second, it is dominated by studies of informal governance. Other aspects of informal relations, namely, informal practices, processes, norms, and informal rules, have received little attention. Third, it is dominated by rational choice approaches. Perspectives such as critical constructivism, practice theory, intersectionality, neocolonialism, decolonial perspective, and postcolonialism, among others, are rarely used by third-generation scholars to explore informal international life. Finally, IIR ideas are deployed primarily as a last resort or as something used to explain negative political outcomes. IR scholars turn to the informal as a unit of analysis when traditional issue-areas such as formal state structures, formal IOs, official processes, codified norms, and written rules cannot help, and they deploy informal ideas only when well-known variables including state power, powerful registered domestic groups, and legalized nonstate actors are unable to explain a given political problem. But as those who have studied the issue carefully observed, the informal rather than the formal should be the baseline for IR analysis. The discipline of IR will be improved considerably if informality is prioritized and all facets of informal international life are explored in a systematic manner.

Article

The rise of regulation is perhaps one of the most critical transformations of the capitalist system. Not surprisingly, this development has triggered a surge in the interest in regulation in social and political sciences since the 1990s. A contested notion, regulation can denote different meanings and can be understood in different ways. Given this multiplicity of meanings, studying regulatory cooperation requires exploring some fundamental elements to understand the main concepts and approaches used, and to capture its multiple levels and dimensions. The adopted denominations and utilized concepts are many—“regional regulatory cooperation,” “regional regulatory regime,” “regional regulatory integration,” “regulatory regionalism,” and “regional regulatory governance,” among others—and each captures, in its own way, particular dimensions or aspects of the field. In terms of levels, whereas a rich and dense literature has attested to the fact that global governance increasingly proceeds through transnational regulations, studies with a focus on the regional level are scant, especially when compared to the former, and remain scattered under various labels and denominations. However, regulatory cooperation leads to the creation of regulatory spaces that blur the distinction not only between the national and global arenas, but also between the national and the regional. Studies have thus translated these theoretical claims into empirical research showing that there is a growing regulatory cooperation space at the regional level, where various constellations of actors and networks that bridge the state and nonstate, and public and private, distinctions operate across levels and policy sectors. Analyses and scholarship on regulation and regulatory cooperation have made relevant progress, and in so doing, they have opened new avenues for research to explore and understand the place and role of regulatory cooperation and regions in a complex regulatory world.

Article

On the African continent, a commitment to Pan-African unity and multilateral organization exists next to a postcolonial society whose 54 Westphalian states interpret the commitment to unity and integration to different degrees. The tension between a long-term Pan-African vision for a unified continent that prospers and is economically self-empowered, and the national concerns of governing state-centered elites with immediate domestic security and political and economic interests, lies at the heart of the politics surrounding African integration and affects both the continent and its regions. The politics of integration demand that a patchwork of regionalisms be consolidated; states give up on multiple memberships; and designated regional economic communities (RECs) take the lead on integration or subordinate themselves to the strategy and complement the institutions of the African Union (AU). In the interest of widening the social base of regional organization, politics needs to recognize and give status to informal regional actors engaged in bottom-up regionalism. Of issue in the politics of integration and regionalism are themes of norm adaptation, norm implementation, intergovernmentalism and supra-nationality, democracy, and authoritarianism.