International organizations are “explicit arrangements, negotiated among international actors,that prescribe, and or authorize behaviour” Koremenos, Lipson & Snidal (2001: 762) International organizations play avital role in the global politics. In this essay the various roles of international institutions will be examined according to the neo-realism theory of international relations, by highlighting its limitations and breaking down its core assumptions. It will finally conclude with the idea that institutions are not needed.
It can be argued by the neo-realist approach that international institutions are and always will be constantly ineffective, because of their inability to stop states from acting upon their own interests and taking part in power politics. Scholars, Keohane and Martin’s response, as they develop the theory that “institutions are created simply in response to state interests, and that their character is structured by the prevailing distribution of capabilities.” Keohane and Martin (1995: 47) Mearsheimer challenges this by stating that institutions can only promote peace by manipulating members of the state. They advocate cooperation in a world that is intrinsically competitive so naturally States will use this pretext to take advantage of others. (Mearsheimer (1995: 82). To this end, neo-realists assert the irrelevance of international institutions, as they believe it does not alter the self-interested anarchic system of States. This idea that institutions play a non-role in international relations is a reductionist one as the argument that States will not respond to constraints and opportunities given by these institutions is greatly flawed. This can be exemplified by the UN’s regulation on the use of military force, “many States are happy to comply with these standards as it reduces the risks and costs of engaging in conflict whilst at the same time working towards disarmament.” Newman (2007: 143).
The establishment of the United Nations was focused on coordinating and aiding States’ efforts to achieve goals which were common under the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention. Given that, the primary purpose of the UN is to promote discussions and give States the platform to resolve their own disputes and to not meddle in the internal affairs. The concept was never based on establishing a ‘world government’, so the institutions of the UN should not be given such a description. An example of this is the Earth Summit, where members discussed actions to be taken regarding environmental sustainability and climate change and then world leaders would reconvene in ten-year follow-up meeting to monitor each other’s progress. Neo-realists claim the international system is built on the concept of anarchy, self-interested, increasing power struggle between States, which has resulted into a large amount of distrust within global institutions. But many have affirmed that, “in a world of multiple issues imperfectly linked, in which coalitions are formed transnationally and trans-governmentally, the potential role of international institutions is greatly increased.” Nye and Keohane (1989: 35). UN and its inability to prevent conflict is one of its failures, but realistically speaking these conflict occur as a result of political and ideological tensions which need more than just bilateral diplomatic efforts in order to be solved, “as exemplified in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Western Sahara, and the disputed region of Kashmir.” Cassese (2005: 337). This reflects unrealistic expectations of the UN as an actor. Thus, the neo-realist critique can be seen from two different angles, that of the liberal institutionalists, affirming that in fact nations do comply to standards imposed by international organizations, and the pragmatic discourse, which concerns itself with the idea of the UN as a stage providing a framework for discussions and multi-lateral agreements.
One of the largest institutions involved in global governance is the United Nations. It is a veritable global bureaucracy composed of numerous arrangements which in theory regulate and represent the social, economic, and security interests of all the human race. Its main body, the Security Council with its five permanent members, the USA, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France, is the living proof of ‘Realpolitik’ hidden purposely behind the institutional structure of the UN, a type of politics functioning according to the pragmatic terminology of “nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and ballistic missiles” Schmidt in d’Orville, (1993:18). The United Nations sets its main goal, which is achieving global peace, but so far it has repeatedly failed and proved that it’s unable to handle the security and pacification of many geographical areas. A good example is the Rwandan genocide which occurred in 1994 when Hutu government officials launched a campaign nationwide to destroy all of the inhabitants belonging to the Tootsie tribe, an outrageous event which the United Nations had failed to prevent or stop, although a considerable amount of its armed forces were deployed in the region at that given period. Another example is the crisis in Sudan which so far has remained unsolved, although suffering has affected millions of people. A more recent case of the United Nation’s inability to manage a security crisis is the 1990 massacre of Srebenica of 8000 Muslims by the Serbian army, then under the command of Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The above given examples are prove that so far the United has failed to deliver on its task for global peace, security, mainly because of the encroachments the P5 members have so far practiced in delivering appropriate policy outputs on matters of extreme delicacy. The inflammatory situation in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas has exposed the policy driving power the US, as a world hegemon, possesses when protecting Israel from the sometimes unfriendly resolutions passing through the Security Council (Klausner, 2007). Another interesting case is the war in Iraq launched by the US and its allies against the will of the UN, a case which proves all institutionalists wrong (Gordon and Shapiro, 2004). Therefore, it is now clear that when talking about international institutions one is correct to define them as ‘arenas for acting out power relationships’ (Mearsheimer, 1994:13), arenas which are dominated by the main economic and implicitly military powers.
The same thing with the International Monetary Fund, which is an establishment of the Breton Woods System, which can be said to be serving the interests of the US, as it is deductible from the higher voting quota the USA holds within this financial institution and the background of the elites governing it. With the rise of China as both an economic and military power there is already availability from US bureaucrats to accommodate China within the IMF, WTO, and WB and therefore prevent the creation, under the influence of the government in Beijing, of other international financial institutions which might not serve the West’s economic interests to the extent the Breton Woods ones do. Another interesting fact about the IMF is that although it is allegedly designed to bring about global development, countries like those in Latin-America have suffered great economic setbacks as a result of the implementation of neoliberal policies and loan policy conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund. Back in 2001, due to a historic debt towards the IMF, Argentina had become an unstable country, creating security and economic concerns throughout the whole of South America. The examples do not end with Argentina, as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico have also suffered from the financial regime the IMF has embarked them upon. These are all very good examples of how an international institution not only does not make peace more likely, but it actually deems it impossible. Another good example of how the IMF’s policies are conflict conducive is the general divide it has created between ‘core economies and peripheral ones’ (Wallerstein in Baylis, 2008:147), a divide which polarizes the international arena and creates the premises for a significant number of economically driven political conflicts. The power structure persistent within the IMF and the WTO proves right the assertion that international institutions only ‘mirror the distribution of power in the system’ (Mearsheimer, 1994:13-14) as their existence is owed to the explicit strategic will of powerful states in the international system to ‘maintain their share of world power and increase it’ (ibid).
In conclusion, this paper revealed that the role international organizations should play in world politics is dependent on the theoretical framework and interpretation of what the institutional system entails. According to neo-realists, international institutions are and will always be ineffective, as they cannot alter the anarchic structure of the international system. This essay has sought to argue thBIBLIOGRAPHY:
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