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TOPIC 9-GLOBAL POLITICS

Area of Concentration
i. Understanding world politics.
ii. The changing world order
iii. The United Nations and Global security
iv. Multilateralism and Unilateralism

Understanding world politics.

1. The major theoretical schools of international politics are:-


A. Idealism
B. Realism
C. Pluralism
D. Marxism

Idealism

1. Idealisms allegedly dominated the study of international relations from the end of
the First World War until the late 1980s.
2. Idealism is also referred in the literatures as utopianism.
3. Idealism came to prominence in reaction to the blood bath of the First World War.
4. Idealists shared a belief in progress and were of the view that the procedures of
parliamentary democracy and deliberation under the rule of law could be firmly
established in international democracy.
5. This belief led to the creation of the League of Nations following the Treaty Of
Versailles in December 1919.
6. A central characteristic of idealism is the belief that what unites human beings is
more important that what divides them.

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Realism
Realism also known as the power-politics school of thought has dominated the
field of international relations.
The development of Realism as a distinctive paradigm in international relations
has been most clearly identified with the ‘founding works of EH CARR “The
Twentieth Year’s Crisis (1939” and HANS MORGENTHAN’s “Politics among
Nations (1948)”.

1. Realism may be said to be based on three fundamental assumptions:-


A. The state-centric assumption whereby states are the primary and only
important actors in word politics.
B. The rational assumption whereby states are analyzed as if they were rational
and unitary actors.
C. The power assumption whereby states primarily seek power, most often
military power both as a means and as an end in itself.
2. Realism lies in the concept of power. Therefore international politics like all
politics is a struggle for power, and states alone have the necessary resources to
exercise power, they are consequently the most important actors.

1. According to the realists, actors in world politics are defined on the basis of three
main criteria:-
A. Sovereignty
B. Recognition of statehood and
C. The control of territory and population.
2. Other entities on the international scene cannot be seen as distinct and
autonomous entities because they do not combine these three essentials for an
actor.

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Pluralism

1. The pluralist school of international politics emerged in the US in the 1960s and
1970s and built the foundation of liberal ideas and values.
2. Pluralism is a sociopolitical theory that emphasizes the distribution of power
amongst a number of competing bodies or groups.
3. As a theory, it highlights the permeability of t he state and provides an alternative
to the state-centrism of the realist model.

1. The pluralist perspective offers a mixed-actors model that while not ignoring
national governments, emphasizes that international politics is shaped by a much
broader range of interests and groups.
2. The pluralist model calls for all actors; governmental and non-governmental to
operate within a framework of checks and constraints that inhibit independent
movement.
The pluralist model highlights a shift away from power politics and national grand
sentiment.
Marxism
1. Marxism offers a perspective on international politics that contrasts sharply with
conventional paradigms.
2. The Marxist approach stresses on economic power and the role played by
international capital.
3. This was evident in the Communist Manifesto where Marx called on workers of
the world to unite.

Lenin’s Imperialism: The highest stage of Capitalism argued that imperial expansion
reflected domestic capitalism’s quest to maintain profit levels through the export of
surplus capital.
This in turn brought major capitalist powers into conflict with one another, the result
being the First World War. This being essentially an imperialist war, which was fought
for the control of colonies in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

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The Changing World Order

1. The rise and fall of the cold war. The cold war was the term coined by WALTER
LIPPMAN in 1944. It was a state of protracted and extreme tension between
countries that stopped short of war.
2. The term is mostly associated with a period of political, economic, cultural and
military rivalry between the capitalist Western Bloc and the Communist Bloc led
by the U.S.S.R.
3. This period is seen as having started in 1947 with the establishment of the Truman
Doctrine.

The 21st Century World Order

1. The new world order as envisaged by President George Bush was not an
ideological conflict and a balance of terror, but on a common recognition of
international norms and standards of morality.
2. Central to this new order was the recognition of the need to settle disputes
peacefully, it resist aggression and expansion, to control and reduce military
arsenals and to ensure that treatment of domestic population through respect of
human rights.

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The United Nations & Global Security

1. The term United Nations was coined by Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War
II to refer to the allies. Its first formal use was in the January 1st 1942 Declaration
of the Allies to the principle of the Atlantic Charter and pledged then not to seek a
separate peace with the Axis powers.
2. On April 25, 1945 the United Nations Conference on International Organizations
began in San Francisco. The 50 nations represented signed the Charter, two
months later on June 26. The UN came into existence on October 24, 1945 after
the Charter had been ratified by the five permanent members of the Security
Council (Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom and the
United States) and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.
The United Nations System is based on six principal bodies, part of what is collectively
called the United Nations System:
1. UN General Assembly
2. UN Security Council
3. UN Economic and Social Council
4. UN Trusteeship Council
5. UN Secretariat
6. International Court of Justice

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Functions of the United Nations
1. Arms Control and Disarmament
2. Peace Keeping
UN peacekeepers are sent to various regions where armed conflict has recently
ceased in order to enforce the terms of the peace agreements and to discourage
combatants from resuming hostilities. These forces are provided by the
membership of the UN, the UN does not maintain any independent military. All
UN peacekeeping operations must be approved by the Security Council.
3. Humanitarian Assistance
In conjunction with other organizations such as the Red Cross, the UN
provides humanitarian services to disaster areas. These agencies include
World Food Programme and the High Commissioner for Refugees.
4. Human Rights
The pursuit of human rights was one of the main reasons for setting up the
UN, following the genocide of the Second World War. The UN Charter
obliges all member nations to promote “universal respect for and observance
of human rights” and to take joint and separate action to bring to reality the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though not legally binding was
adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 as a common standard of
achievement for all.
5. International Court of Justice
Includes war crimes tribunal
6. UN Security Council
Discusses global problems and can offer resolutions to try and deal with them.

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Global Security
1. Contemporary terrorism challenges traditional conceptions of international
security.
2. The international system cannot be isolated from grievances generated in the
arena of domestic politics. Much contemporary terrorism represents the spillover
of civil conflict unto the international scene.
3. Terrorism is a method that serves different ideologies and its forms are diverse.
Some groups rely exclusively on terrorism while others combine it with other
activities such as providing essential social services.

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