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Article

Xinyuan Dai, Duncan Snidal, and Michael Sampson

The study of international cooperation has emerged and evolved over the past few decades as a cornerstone of international relations research. The strategy here for reviewing such a large literature is to focus primarily on the rational choice and game theoretic approaches that instigated it and have subsequently guided its advance. Without these theoretical efforts, the study of international cooperation could not have made nearly as much progress—and it certainly would not have taken the form it does in the 21st century. Through this lens, we can identify major themes in this literature and highlight key challenges for future research

Article

Timothy W. Crawford

Intelligence cooperation (or liaison) refers to the sharing or exchange of politically useful secret information between states, which may also work together to produce or procure such information. There are many important connections between the key concerns of intelligence cooperation and the cooperation problems and solutions illuminated in mainstream traditions of international relations theory (realism, liberalism, and constructivism), and work on bureaucratic and organizational politics. These are captured in a descriptive typology that breaks down intelligence cooperation relationships into four classes, reflecting the number of states and quality of reciprocity involved. Those are transactional bilateral cooperation, relational bilateral cooperation, transactional multilateral cooperation, and relational multilateral cooperation. Across these categories, the most important concepts, conjectures, and conundrums of intelligence cooperation are found.

Article

International regimes are often described as regularized patterns of cooperative interaction or behavior among international actors such as nation-states. They also provide the most concrete instances of international cooperation. One example is the telecommunications regime, which grapples with issues such as satellites, radio and television broadcasting, surveillance, and sending of voice or data messages. Until the late 1970s or early 1980s, the international communications regime was dominated by state- or privately-owned monopolies in the communication industries. Recently, this cartel has unraveled and communication markets worldwide have moved toward privatization and liberalization, which led to changes in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Intelsat. The ITU was initially seen as strongly resistant to liberalization, but the current view is that it eventually came around to supporting it. The ITU still remains the premier authority arbitrating interconnection protocols, frequency distribution and arbitrations, and weighs in on prices and standards. Intelsat, meanwhile, has become a much weaker organization as a result of the regime change toward liberalization. As competitive private and regional satellite systems have developed, Intelsat is now one among many telecommunication satellite carriers in the world, although it remains the largest provider of fixed satellite services. Various forms of Internet governance have also emerged, reflecting a mix of private and public authorities at national and international levels. In electronic commerce, the emerging regime reflects the overall rubric of the principles and norms of global liberalization.

Article

Chenaz B. Seelarbokus

Over the course of the twenty-first century, international environmental cooperation has been spurred through various new international environmental institutions and programs, and a dramatic strengthening of international environmental law-making. With the burst of environmental treaty-making the corpus of international environmental law (IEL) has expanded to include significant international environmental agreements (IEAs) in the sphere of climate change, ozone layer depletion, biodiversity, and so on; as well as the recognition of important principles such as good neighborliness and the common heritage. IEAs function similarly to international treaties—indeed, the only difference between an IEA and other international treaties lies in the subject matter. IEAs function as the instrument for laying down the principles of international laws binding upon states was established by the 1815 Congress of Vienna. Over the years, IEAs have not simply increased in number, but have also undergone an evolution in their structural design. In the early 1930s, IEAs tended to be simple in terms of their requirements, vague in terms of their objectives, and utilitarian in their ethos for protecting the environment. With time, however, as environmental sciences evolved to incorporate new principles and concepts, the structure of IEAs has followed in tandem to incorporate the new understandings and the new concerns.

Article

Heidi H. Hobbs, Harry I. Chernotsky, and Darin H. Van Tassell

International Studies majors evolved as a reflection of broader trends toward internationalizing higher education in the United States. However, International Studies has historically lacked an integrative framework. In particular, it has been described as approximating “all things international” and the point at which multiple disciplines converge. This variation and lack of identity have resulted in the random ways International Studies programs have developed in terms of their core curricula, faculty, and variety of institutional homes. The search for an International Studies paradigm that can unite the various disciplines comprising the field has spawned a debate over globalization between the so-called hyperglobalizers, who emphasize the progressive erosion of the borders that have differentiated national economies and sustained the centrality of nation-states, and their critics, who point to the resilience and political endurance of the nation-state system and the continuing capacity of states to regulate the global economy. Another view, representing the third wave of globalization theory, suggests that globalization is an extremely complex phenomenon. One key element that should frame International Studies curricula is to foster an understanding of the multiple perspectives guiding perceptions and visions across the world. The core curriculum should adress the following issues: political awareness, economic understanding, cultural competency, international cooperation, and global citizenship.

Article

The social contract tradition derives its ethical force from the hypothetical agreement that parties would reach in an initial choice situation. This initial choice situation brings together a description of the circumstances of justice, various extra-contractarian moral assumptions, and an instrumental theory of rational choice. The circumstances of justice refer to the conditions that require principles of justice. These conditions include the existence of social cooperation along with moderate scarcity. In the absence of such conditions, principles of justice are either unnecessary or impossible to sustain. Social cooperation generates both benefits and burdens, and it is the allocation of those components of social cooperation that requires principles of justice. The application of the social contract to the domestic context dates back to the ancient Greeks, though their version of the contract was somewhat crude and rather one-sided in favor of state authority. Later versions of the social contract would oblige the state to provide much more to citizens in return for their allegiance. John Rawls is widely credited with resurrecting the social contract tradition in the twentieth century. His thought holds special significance for the international social contract, as he extends the contractual approach ethics into the international system where his predecessors declined to do so.

Article

Elena McLean and Muhammet Bas

Natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes, or pandemics routinely have cross-border implications. Transboundary risks of natural disasters tend to be the greatest for neighboring countries but often extend regionally or even globally. Even disasters with seemingly localized impacts contained within the national borders of a given state may have indirect short-term or long-term effects on other countries through refugee flows, conflict spillovers, volatility of global commodity prices, disruption of trade relations, financial flows, or global supply chains. Natural disasters may increase the risk of interstate conflict because of commitment problems, reduced opportunity costs of conflict, shocks to status quo divisions of resources, or demarcation of territories among countries, or because of leaders’ heightened diversionary incentives in favor of conflict. In some cases, disasters may have a pacifying effect on ongoing hostilities by creating opportunities for disaster diplomacy among conflict parties. Population displacement in disaster zones can send refugee flows and other types of migration across borders, with varying short-term and long-term socioeconomic and political effects in home and host countries. Adverse effects of natural disasters on regional and global economic activity shape patterns of international trade and financial flows among countries. To mitigate such risks from natural disasters and facilitate adjustment and recovery efforts, countries may turn to international cooperation through mechanisms for disaster relief and preparedness. Regional and global governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are common means to initiate and maintain such cooperative efforts.

Article

Mark J. C. Crescenzi, Rebecca H. Best, and Bo Ram Kwon

Reciprocity refers to the character of the actions and reactions between two or more actors. This character is commonly one of responding in kind to the actions of another. As such, reciprocity is considered one of the fundamental processes observed by scholars in the study of international relations (IR). In the realm of international politics, the study of reciprocity typically encompasses formal/experimental and empirical research. Some scholars look at ethical dimensions and the propagation of norms such as the Golden Rule, while others undertake empirical analysis of patterns of reciprocity in search of answers to questions about the existence, predictability, and diffusion of reciprocity. As a concept, reciprocity has applications in a range of IR topics such as the basic ingredients of cooperation, the escalation and return of conflict, and the adherence to international law. Within the realm of conflict processes, the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) and formal frameworks are often used to represent arms races and similar security concerns. Related to the iterated PD is the work of Robert Axelrod, who demonstrated the robustness of the reciprocal strategy known as tit-for-tat (TFT). One puzzle on reciprocity that deserves consideration in future research is that the expectation of a long time horizon for interaction should stimulate the incentive to cooperate, but long time horizons may also be associated with long pasts. One way to find the answer to this puzzle is to incorporate reciprocity into more general models of international interaction.

Article

The problem of international migration is that global cooperation is somewhat rare. If international cooperation is to develop, then it will depend on states; but effective cooperation would also impose real constraints on states. Moreover, as states and their borders give meaning to international migration, it follows that the development, consolidation, and transformation of the state system is a key factor determining the possibilities for the global and regional governance of migration to develop. Existing forms of regional integration and their migration provisions as well as regional consultation processes (RCPs) can serve as a mechanism for intraregional communication, the sharing of knowledge, and for the dissemination of policy ideas and practices. The EU has already been discussed as the world’s most highly developed form of regional integration. It is the only international organization with the power and capacity to make and implement laws through its own institutional system that must be implemented by member states. The EU moreover has a highly developed system of internal free movement for nationals of its own states and has developed a border-free travel area for participating states. These developments constitute the hallmark of a highly developed intra-EU migration framework linked to the creation of the “single market.”

Article

Various chemicals and heavy metals are released into the environment through industrial and manufacturing processes, agricultural use, the use of industrial and consumer goods, and the mismanagement and dumping of wastes. Such releases can cause major environmental and human health problems, both at the local level and across national borders. International cooperation can be a way of addressing the risks posed by hazardous substances and wastes. States and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) have engaged in technical collaboration and policy-making on these issues for more than a century. Today, a host of IGOs work on policy-making and management of hazardous substances and wastes, including the International Labor Organization, the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, and the Global Environment Facility. Multilateral cooperation on hazardous substances and wastes takes place under three separate treaties: the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the 1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. A substantial amount of scholarly literature covers numerous issues associated with hazardous substances and wastes, such as multilateral and national waste controls, persistent organic pollutants, and regional environmental policy developments. The case of hazardous substances and wastes can be used to further investigate the characteristics of vertical and horizontal institutional linkages and linkage politics, as well as the diffusion of principles, norms, ideas, and regulatory approaches across multilateral forums and national societies.

Article

When academics explore the politics of international monetary regulation, they tend to focus on three more specific policy challenges, each with attendant tradeoffs. Explaining how the global system has addressed these tradeoffs across time and space is at the core of the political science literature on the regulation of international monetary flows. Many political scientists are interested in the politics of macroeconomic imbalances. Some countries operate current account surpluses, while others operate deficits, placing downward pressure on their currency. One of the key questions examined by the political science literature on this subject is that of who adjusts. Moreover, some works discuss how domestic politics constrains and informs the positions of leaders. Other works discuss the role of international summits and organizations in facilitating cooperation. Others, in turn, explore how ideas shape our understanding of adverse events, and thus, which actors adjust to crises. Other political scientists are interested in regulatory matters. Some argue that in a world where capital mobility is high, the ability for states to regulate their financial systems may be constrained, fostering a race to the bottom. At the same time, much of the literature explores how issues of hegemonic interests, domestic politics, and ideational contestation enable the creation and implementation of some forms of global, though not others. Finally, many works explore how the system responds to currency crises.

Article

Kelley Lee and Julia Smith

Patterns of health and disease have been relevant to international studies for as long as human populations have migrated across large territorial spaces. After World War II, international health cooperation was accepted as a key function of the newly established United Nations system, with the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the UN specialized agency for health alongside other UN bodies. However, social science scholarship paid little attention to the perceived technical field of health, and thus international health organizations, until the 1970s. The limited scholarship produced during the postwar period was largely by those engaged with international health organizations and was primarily descriptive of technical and legal issues. It was not until debates emerged about the role and effectiveness of WHO, beginning in the 1980s, that scholars began considering the politics of international health cooperation. The adoption of the Declaration of Alma Ata, List of Essential Drugs, and International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes spurred debates about the “politicization” of WHO’s technical mandate. Public health practitioners and social historians contributed reflections on how structural inequalities shape health outcomes, and international organization scholarship introduced critical theoretical approaches to the study of health institutions. Scholars began to locate patterns of health and disease within the broader international political economy. The subsequent proliferation of new institutional arrangements for collective action on health issues, involving both state and non-state actors, generated studies of the distribution of power and responsibilities in an increasingly complex institutional landscape. This led to the concept of global health governance (GHG), with health becoming located within globalization processes, encouraging scholarly links across international relations, social policy, law, and anthropology. A wider range of international organizations, with health-related impacts, were incorporated into GHG scholarship. Concurrently, new theoretical approaches to understanding collective action for global health emerge, notably realist notions of global health security and critical approaches to the construction of GHG. The study of international organization and health since the mid-2000s has focused intense attention on the reform or creation of new institutional arrangements amid major global health crises, acute health inequities, and shared risks. This increasingly rich literature has been informed by diverse normative perspectives.

Article

Patricia A. Weitsman

Military alliances predate even the state system as a form of international cooperation, and they take on many forms. The motivations of states seeking to join, the commitment levels formalized in the alliance agreement, and degrees of institutionalization all take different forms in the literature, but these scholarly perspectives can be boiled down to a few approaches: the realist, the rationalist and formalist, the liberal or institutionalist, and finally, the constructivist arguments on alliance identities. Moreover, a common thread among the literature on military alliances is an understanding that alliances provide a wide range of services to their members, and contain more than one motivation for forming and maintaining the alliances. Given that the motivations for forming alliances are varied, especially during different threat environments, it is important to ask what the consequences are. In this vein, scholars consider two primary issues: if these alliances can fulfill their intended missions, and if there are unintended consequences which may arise and lead to undesirable results. A related issue to the study of what motivates alliances is in how well they perform in terms of cohesion. Cohesion is, roughly speaking, the capacity of an alliance to effectively carry out its goals. Finally, there are the coalitions—ad hoc multinational understandings that are forged to undertake a specific mission, and dissolve once that mission is complete. They are not wholly analytically distinct from wartime alliances, although the latter may have a greater degree of institutionalization and may predate a specific wartime operation.

Article

Trust is the expectation that one’s interests be looked after despite the possibility of exploitation by the one being trusted (trustee). Trusting always involves some risk on the part of the one trusting (truster). The truster is vulnerable—either by choice or by circumstance. One can never be absolutely sure that one’s interests are important to the trustee or that their past performance can allow one to predict future behavior. The trustee retains their agency and even has an incentive for betrayal in the future. Much of the research on trust in international relations is aimed at explaining cooperation amid anarchy. In this context, cooperation begins with a leap of faith by actors who trust generally rather than specifically. Such “generalized trusters” do not require evidence that the trustee in question is even trustworthy with respect to a particular issue, since all actors are assumed to be worthy of trust across all topics (assuming they have the capacity to act). This can be considered “credulity,” and it primarily involves having trustful attitudes, affects, emotions, or motivational structures that are not focused on specific people, institutions, or groups. Furthermore, one cannot speak of trust without some reference to affect, particularly since one can never absolutely calculate the odds of betrayal.

Article

Thomas Bernauer and Anna Kalbhenn

Freshwater is one of the most valuable natural resources on Earth. However, many of the more easily accessible freshwater resources at local and regional levels have suffered from overexploitation due to increasing population density, economic activity, and unsustainable water management practices. Sustainable management of domestic water resources is a challenging task mainly due to water allocation, pollution, and other problems on international rivers. Social science research has contributed in a variety of ways to identifying sources of international conflict and cooperation, water management options, and institutional solutions for achieving sustainable international water management. The scholarly literature has tackled a wide range of crucial questions arising from the politics of international freshwater resources, such as: whether there is sufficient evidence for the “water wars” claim—that is, whether water-related factors influence the probability of armed conflict; the determinants of international river basin cooperation, in terms of policy output and policy outcome or impact; how we can determine whether international water management efforts are successful in terms of solving problems that motivate cooperation; and the extent to which the literature offer insights into institutional design options that are effective in terms of problem solving. These studies have produced a considerable amount of policy-relevant analytical concepts and empirical findings. For example, fairness (equity) is one of the key concerns of all governments when they engage in international water cooperation, and integrated water resources management may look nice on paper but does usually not produce the desired results.

Article

James P. Muldoon Jr. and JoAnn Fagot Aviel

Multilateral diplomacy is the management of international relations by negotiations among three or more states through diplomatic or governmental representatives, but it can also be engaged in by representatives of non-state actors. Multilateral negotiation is characterized by multi-parties, multi-issues, multi-roles, and multi-values. The level of complexity is far greater than in bilateral diplomacy as is the level of skill needed to manage that complexity. It can be based on multilateralism, or have multilateralism as a goal, but it can also be pursued by those who do not. Multilateralism can be defined as global governance of the many, and a major principle is the opposition to bilateral discriminatory arrangements. Classic diplomatic studies focused on bilateral diplomacy. However, the growth of international organizations in the 20th century increased interest in multilateral diplomacy, which has developed since its origins in 1648. Increasing attention has been paid to the role of non-state actors and new forms of diplomacy affected by globalization and the digitization of information. In the 21st century, multilateral diplomacy faces unique challenges and calls for reform of international organizations and global governance.