Theories on International Institutions: Research Essay

International Relations

International institutions may be able to promote cooperation in the realm of economic development or on environmental matters – in ‘soft areas’ but are much less likely to succeed in promoting human rights and even less likely to succeed when the problem is military security.”Why do some scholars argue that international institutions can help promote […]

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International Institutions


The achievement of world peace and order is accredited to the efficiency of operations undertaken by international institutions, thus portraying admirable efforts to the world. International institutions possess ideal liberalization qualities for liberalizing economic performances in most countries, thus attaining international community standards. An effective global institution is established through the establishment of necessary activities that promote and integrate cooperation among member countries. In the modern world, the only notable international organizations promoting economic development, peaceful relations, cooperation, and trading activities among states include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN), the World Bank and the Group of 20 (G20). Due to the existence of global factors such as insecurity, inflation, and drug and human trafficking, international institutions have failed to achieve their objectives. I argue that realism brings self-sustainability, which requires every nation to gain sufficient power, thus avoiding external interference by powerful nations. International institutions apply realism, constructivism, and liberalism because they help in promoting peace, economic development, and human rights in most regions of the world while at the same time failing to execute their objectives.

First, I will describe each theory by explaining its significance in international relations and all relevant assumptions from scholars. Then, I will support views from different theories using real-world examples, thus enhancing the understanding of various decisions made by international players. Finally, I will conclude each paragraph by stating its significance to international relations.

International Relations Theory

Realism. The theory is based on self-sustainability, which claims that each nation strives to increase its power, thus gaining the opportunity to control economic and political factors in less powerful nations. To illustrate, foreign policies used by Russia and China portray realism elements, which makes them maintain their diplomatic, strategic, and economic association with countries such as Syria and North Korea, respectively, despite the existence of civil war and violation of human rights in those counties. Therefore, realism is a useful tool in attaining political power and stability; however, when used incorrectly, it creates a violent political atmosphere in nations constituting a given international institution.

International institutions apply new conflict resolution methods, such as deploying military troops, thus resulting in peace and order restoration. For example, deploying the Russian intervention mission in Tajikistan and Chechnya and the NATO air campaign in Bosnia provided a remedy for violence and insecurity issues in those areas. Therefore, peace-oriented missions neglect other social conflicts, such as racism and tribalism, thus threatening the progress of international assistance.

The validation of past conflict resolution practices by international institutions has conceptualized relevant techniques for diplomatic practices, thus increasing the quality of services offered. Realism enhances the conceptualization of diplomatic practices, which is useful in identifying effective methods for enforcing conflict resolution measures, thus enhancing peace among nations. Similarly, international institutions apply conceptualized diplomatic practices such as prosecuting parties accountable for violence and human rights abuse, thus developing a structured mechanism which aims at conflict prevention. Therefore, global issues are reduced due to the presence of formal practices for addressing conflicts and grievances, thus enhancing the political representation of the disenfranchised groups.

Constructivism. Constructivists apply the basic assumptions of neo-realists, who argue that the absence of anarchy in most states creates an inherent structural condition, thus leading to an efficient implementation of norms and rules which govern a nation. To illustrate, the aggressive nature of Germany formed the basis on which the Second World War occurred; since then, Germany has deployed its defensive system outside its borders only after a critical examination of the situation to avoid intervention measures which will lead to genocide. Also, Germany demonstrated its strength in applying foreign policies when it declined the offer to participate in the 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars and the UN’s led operations in Yugoslavia and Somalia, thus helping it to maintain a good international image. Therefore, constructivism is a useful tool in maintaining and attaining peace and good international relation among international institutions.

Most international institutions exhibit a limited scope of operation, thus failing to promote a peaceful environment. To illustrate, in 1992, the UN deployed the ONUMOZ mission during the Civil War in Mozambique while ignoring the promotion of dialogue among the conflicting parties, which allowed them to re-evaluate their security behaviour, thus embarking on collaborative measures (Karbo and Virk 170). Therefore, the UN has failed in achieving its primary goal of creating a peaceful world, thus portraying loopholes in executing core missions such as saving the succeeding generation from the art of war.

Constructivism is a useful theory in the school of international relations as it helps understand how international systems work, thus creating awareness of how different nations engage in international activities. International institutions and other non-governmental organs play a crucial role in influencing international relations and behaviour among nations through persuasion and lobbying. Through the application of concepts from constructivism theory, international institutions such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and OXFAM have gained a large political influence in recent decades due to their role in condemning violence and promoting human rights, thus making violence and human right the core international standards which countries need to conform. This leads to sceptical views on whether international institutions are sufficient to promote international order.

Liberalism. The theory is also known as “liberal internationalism” and thus bases its focus on international issues. Liberalists emphasise international cooperation and thus use it to strengthen the interests of different nations. Therefore, liberal internationalism demands political leaders apply social and economic power in developing working goals, such as the development agreement dealing with neighbouring countries to protect its border, thus leading to the attainment of key national goals.

Liberalism utilizes globalization to promote economic tactics like bilateral trade deals and diplomacy, making it more efficient than force. According to Finnemore, liberalism is deeply rooted in most international institutions, thus promoting democracy and liberal values (157). Similarly, the perpetuation of liberalism by the United States has made it the most dominant system in international relations, thus used in establishing international values and standards used by international institutions in regulating world order. The North Korean crisis is a classic example of an illiberal nation usurping the liberal world order, setting it at the centre of a regime that ought to change for the better tomorrow. Therefore, liberalism has become less efficient in recent days, thus giving room for the application of realism as a new political strategy.

The transformation of the old international system is characterized by the emergence of new and peaceful patterns in how international institutions perform their activities, thus leading to economic stability among member states. Rodrik illustrates that even if nations agree on global standards for their exports, they may approve wrong regulatory standards, thus demanding the formation of global financial institutions such as the Basel Committee, which provides a proper illustration (224). Also, the decreasing frequency at which death tolls occur due to the occurrence of international wars indicates a corresponding decrease in both religious and ethnic conflicts, thus creating a lasting change in border contests due to the changing international situation. Mearsheimer points out that most international institutions ignore surety issues and thus concentrate more on economic and environmental issues, thus leading to inefficiency in stabilizing the political climate in most countries (322). Although other reasons exist for the success of international institutions, the ability to create a credible mediation process and the presence of skilled personnel played a crucial role in attaining peace and security in different regions.

Most international institutions were developed in 1919 during the Versailles Peace Conference, which led to the formation of peace treaties which were aimed at stabilizing peace in European countries. According to Finnemore, the application of constructivism in establishing a legal task force failed due to the social nature of international politics, which creates normative understanding among actors who, in turn, coordinate values, expectations, and behaviour (157). However, the emergence of a new international system which addressed all member needs replaced the European method, thus meeting the demands of resisting countries, which expanded the operations of most international institutions, especially the UN. Therefore, the success or failure of international institutions greatly depends on efforts put in place by member countries; thus, integrating and assimilating new information, which reduces controversial topics, will enhance the existing values and decisions made.


On the realism argument, Betts argues that countries ought to be self-preserving, thus viewing power gain as the attainment of economic and political optimality, which implies that a country can advance its national interests by gaining more power leading to violence and deceit (37). Similarly, constructivists such as Finnemore validate the theory by stating its importance as it is applied by diplomats and international institutions to depict how international issues are addressed and how to discern professional approaches for developing motivational policies, thus investigating the ends to which power is used (157). Lastly, liberalism critics would argue that the existing international goals have the capacity to create long-lasting peace in the world, rather than the application of direct force, such as military control, thus decreasing consequences associated with the application of excessive force, such as civilian casualties and economic losses.


Although the points raised by critics on realism may seem valid, they are fallacious. I rebut by stating that international organisations consider the prioritization of defensive mechanisms morally righteous and thus used as a relevant tool in enforcing foreign policies aimed at improving global stature for nations. Also, the use of transnational corporations as a new conflict resolution method may cause racial conflict, such as the evolution of the apartheid movement in South Africa. Constructivism critics ignore the usefulness of international institutions such as the UN in peacekeeping missions because it managed to stabilize high temperatures in Mozambique through the formation of the ONUMOZ mission. Furthermore, constructivism theory fails to address key issues, such as promoting peace and economic stability, thus facing high-end criticisms. Finally, I rebut liberalism because it is used wrongly by countries such as North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons, despite being against the will of some international institutions and countries such as the U.S, thus leading to the presence of both cold and verbal war among nations which may advance in the near future leading to 3rd world war.


With the increasing globalization, understanding government actions and activities is crucial. Thus, they should apply relevant international relations theory to accomplish their primary objective. Similarly, international institutions need to understand the application of each international relations theory, thus helping attain a diplomatic world. On the contrary, most international institutions fail to employ international relations theories, thus leading to the failure of most projects. Therefore, they need to understand concepts from relevant schools of international relations to deepen their knowledge, thus preparing for efficient diplomatic processes.

Work Cited

Betts, Richard K. Conflict after the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace. Allyn and Bacon, 1994.

Finnemore, Martha. Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention. Columbia University Press, 2009.

Gilpin, Robert. Hegemonic War and International Chang. Allyn and Bacon, 1994.

Karbo, Tony, and Kudrat Virk. The Palgrave Handbook of Peacebuilding in Africa. Springer, 2018.

Mearsheimer, John J. “The False Promise of International Institutions.” International Security, vol. 19, no. 3, 2004, pp. 318-334., doi:10.2307/2539078.

Reiss, Hans. Kant Political Writing. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Rodrik, Dani. The Globalization Paradox Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. W.W. Norton & Co., 2011.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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