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Foreign Policy of Colombia  

María Catalina Monroy

The study of foreign policy of Colombia has traditionally followed a path of thick description of specific events and generalizations that have transcended from one generation to another. There is a tendency to claim that Colombia’s foreign policy is presidentialist or personalist, of low profile, and excessively pro-American. These are just a few examples of the conventional wisdom that has defined the study of Colombian foreign policy. Although the field of foreign policy analysis is only in its preliminary phase in Colombia, there is a growing interest among students and scholars to analytically examine foreign policy decision-making through multiple levels of analysis. The foreign policy of Colombia is best understood by tracing the direction and alignment of specific foreign policy decisions into respices, meaning “look at” or “upon.” The fact that Colombia has traditionally “looked upon” a foreign entity to formulate foreign policy poses different questions regarding how autonomous foreign policymaking in Colombia really is. On the one hand, the essence of Colombia’s foreign policy has traditionally been found in a juxtaposition of the country’s interests alongside those of the United States. On the other hand, as a consequence of the articulation of this foreign policy partnership between Colombia and the United States, security has been the most recurrent topic in Colombia’s foreign policy agenda-setting, given the problems of illicit drugs, armed conflict, terrorism, and, more recently, peace.

Article

International Relations of the Pacific Islands  

William Waqavakatoga and Joanne Wallis

The Pacific Islands region occupies 15% of the world’s surface, yet there have been relatively few analyses of the international relations of the Pacific Island countries (PICs). Existing analyses tend to view the region through the lens of the interests of major and metropolitan powers. They consequently focus on how geopolitical competition between those powers is likely to develop in the region but afford little consideration to the agency of PICs to shape how that will occur. This article reimagines the international relations of the Pacific Islands to capture how Pacific Island countries are exercising their agency in pursuit of their interests and to manage the behaviour of great and metropolitan powers. This reimagining involves three analytical moves. First, it subverts stereotypes of “smallness”, “weakness”, and “fragility” which tend to dominate the policy and academic literature of metropolitan powers about the region. Second, it better recognises the agency and activism of Pacific Island countries captured by the concept of the “Blue Pacific”. Third, it accounts for the dynamism and diversity of the nature and interests of the entities and actors that make up, and are involved in the Pacific region.

Article

Disaster Diplomacy  

Carmela Lutmar and Leah Mandler

Almost every disaster brings up hope that natural disasters can somehow open up space for peaceful diplomatic interaction between parties in conflict, be they warring states or warring domestic factions. Advocates of “disaster diplomacy” argue that while earthquakes, floods, windstorms, and tsunami result in human tragedies, these events also generate opportunities for international cooperation, even between enemies. While quantitative research focusing on disaster and conflict clearly shows the connection between the two phenomena, the causal effect is not always straightforward. Certainly, conflict-prone zones suffer from higher vulnerability and risk than places where people reside in peace, just as frequently disaster-stricken areas provide more opportunities for conflicting parties to clash. However, the chicken-and-egg question remains to be clarified as most disasters in conflict zones are complex, long-term disasters exacerbated by human activity. At the same time, more detailed case studies of individual disasters substantiate the claim that natural disasters sometimes encourage diplomacy, but also emphasize significant differences in circumstances and conflict characteristics among others.

Article

The Arctic in International Relations  

Andreas Østhagen

The Arctic has risen on the international agenda, both for the eight Arctic states and for other actors external to the region. Security and geopolitical dynamics have developed and changed in the north. Nevertheless, one-liner predictions of a resource race or an imminent conflict do not capture the nuances of Arctic politics. When it comes to territorial or border disputes, none remains in the Arctic. The last territorial dispute—over Hans Island—was settled in 2022. When it comes to maritime boundary disputes, only one remains—namely, between Canada and the United States. Along these parameters, the Arctic is in fact remarkably defined and stable, in contrast to other maritime domains surrounded by states. There are still disputes in which states disagree over the interpretation of international law or how to manage the change in resource activity brought forth by climate change. Looking at the international relations of the Arctic, it also makes sense to separate three sets of political dynamics: regional (intra-Arctic) relations, global relations with an Arctic impact or relevance or both, and subregional security relations. Examining security relations as a subset of Arctic International Relations makes it particularly apparent that these primarily revolve around the Barents Sea or North Atlantic maritime domain and the Bering Sea or North Pacific maritime domain, linking to, but not encompassing all of, the Arctic.

Article

International Competition and Cooperation in the New Eastern Mediterranean  

Zenonas Tziarras

In the 21st century and particularly during the 2010s, the Eastern Mediterranean acquired unprecedented attention and significance as a distinct geopolitical space with new international and security dynamics. This “new” Eastern Mediterranean geopolitical order was largely “constructed” by global and regional power shifts as well as local developments, such as the trajectory of Turkish foreign policy and the discovery of offshore hydrocarbon reserves. The result was a change in the region’s patterns of interstate conflict and cooperation. On the one hand, countries such as Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Israel became part of an emerging network of cooperation and security architecture. On the other hand, owing to its problematic relations with these states, Turkey remained an outsider wanting to “deconstruct” this new state of affairs and change it to its own benefit. As such, the new Eastern Mediterranean was ushered in during a period of geopolitical polarization that is more conducive to crisis rather than peace and stability and often transcends its boundaries.

Article

Israeli Foreign Policy  

Aviad Rubin

The main principles of Israeli foreign policy emerged during the pre-state period and were shaped by Zionist ideology and the lessons of the Holocaust. The primary goal of this policy was, and still is, to secure a sovereign Jewish state in the land of Israel, and a safe haven for world Jewry. Another dominant factor in the shaping of the foreign policy of Israel was the need to encounter the country’s challenging geostrategic situation—small territory; lack of natural resources, until the discovery of natural gas depots in water in the Israeli exclusive economic zone during the last decade; fragile Jewish communities around the world; and a hostile neighborhood. Combined together, these considerations are the issues that rank high on the agenda of Israeli foreign policy and affect Israel’s relationship with the international community, ranging from the global superpowers to third world countries. After maintaining a relatively steady foreign policy program throughout the 20th century, in the 21st century the state made some significant policy shifts, especially under Benjamin Netanyahu’s consecutive governments. These included a halt in Israeli–Palestinian negotiations for peace; a high-profile campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program; more emphasis on the maritime domain; and strengthening ties with illiberal leaders around the world. In 2021, the seeming epilogue of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister leaves an open question about the relative weight of structural and ideational factors vs. powerful political agents in the design of Israel’s foreign policy.

Article

Great Power Leadership  

Wesley B. O'Dell

The notion that Great Powers fulfill a leadership role in international politics is old, influential, and contested. As the actors in the international system with the greatest capacity for taking action, Great Powers are assumed to think both further ahead and in broader, more systemic terms than other states; they then use their preeminent positions to organize others to promote public goods, reaping benefits along the way thanks to their direction of events. At the core of this understanding is the assumption that Great Power actions are, or ought to be, inspired by something more than simple self-interest and the pursuit of short-term gains. As an organic creation of international practice, Great Power leadership was traditionally the domain of historians and international legists; early students of the topic utilized inductive reasoning to derive general precepts of Great Power sociology from the landmark settlements of the 18th and 19th centuries. The framing of Great Powers as a leadership caste originated in the struggle against Louis XIV, was given tentative institutional form through settlements such as the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), and deepened considerably in both institutionalization and sophistication in the 19th century Concert of Europe. The return of France to full Great Power status, the Congress (1878) and Conference (1884) of Berlin, and the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901) all demonstrated the willingness and ability of the Powers to cooperate in the management of international change. In the early 20th century, the leadership of the Great Powers was both challenged as an unjust agent of catastrophe as well as increasingly formalized through recognition in new international institutions such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. Theorists of international relations began to formulate theories based on Great Power management at the time of the discipline’s beginnings in the early 20th century. Realists and liberals frequently utilize Great Power concepts to explain processes of equilibrium, hegemonic competition, and institution building, while approaches influenced by constructivism focus on the role of ideas, statuses, and roles in the formulation of Great Power identities and policies. The doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a 21st-century manifestation of the application of Great Power leadership to international problems; though hailed by some as the future of Great Power management, it provokes controversy among both theorists and practitioners. Similarly, extensive scholarly attention has been devoted to the management and accommodation of “rising powers.” These are states that appear likely to obtain the status of Great Power, and there is extensive debate over their orientation toward and potential management of international order. Finally, the position of Russia and China within this literature has provoked deep reflection on the nature of Great Power, the responsibilities of rising and established powers, and the place of Great Power management amidst the globalized challenges of the 21st century.

Article

Neutrality Studies  

Pascal Lottaz

The study of neutrality, as an academic subject in the fields of history and the social sciences, is concerned with the politics, laws, ethics, economics, norms, and other social aspects of states and international actors that attempt to maintain friendly or impartial relations with other states who are—or might become—parties to international conflict. In this regard, neutrality studies is a subject of international politics in its broadest sense, encompassing international law and international relations. It is an open space that has been explored through various academic lenses, including (but not limited to) realism, liberalism, constructivism, and poststructuralism. Most neutrality research in the early 21st century is focused on particular periods or forms of neutrality. To discuss this topic, it is helpful to distinguish two levels of analysis. First, there is historical research that describes the observable phenomenon of neutral behavior and its related effects, in other words, specific instances when countries (or actors) remained neutral. This is mostly the domain of historians. The second level is the moral, legal, political, and ideational assessment of neutral situations, which are theoretical discussions that treat issues (including but not limited to) the underlying reasons and the larger impact of neutrality on specific conflict dynamics, security systems, identities, and norms. Ideological debates often occur on this level since theoretical assessments of neutrality depend heavily on the subjective framing of the conflicts they accompany.