Definitions of International Relations
Jeromy Bentham was the first person to use the word “international”, in the later 18th century, with regards to defining the relations between nation-states. A restricted definition of International Relations confines its focus to official relations and excludes relations other than the official from the purview of international relations.
From a broader view, International Relations may refer to all forms of interactions between members of separate societies, whether government sponsored or not.
The study of International Relations includes analysis of foreign policies or political processes between nations, and also focuses on international trade and civil society interaction.
Ingredients of International Relations
The study of International Relations involves looking at the nature and principal forces of international organization as well as the political, social, economic organization of political life. International Relations is also concerned with an examination of elements of national power, including the limitation of national power and examining how it can be controlled.
International Relations also focuses on the instruments available for promotion of national interest, with foreign policies of major powers and of smaller (strategic) powers and considers other historical ingredients as a background for events affecting the current sphere of International Relations.
International Politics vs. International Relations
International Relations is wider in scope than international politics. International politics focuses on various styles of politics: the politics of violence, the politics of persuasion, hierarchical policies and pluralistic politics.
Yet International Relations embraces the totality of relations among people and groups of people in global society, which go beyond looking at political forces to an examination of socio-cultural and economic processes as well.
League of Nations
WWI had caused 20 million deaths in 4 years. For the first time ever, there was a global consensus on the need for collective security and a focus on the need for prevention of war.
Nations attempted to put to practice the ideas of public voting by diplomats in international organizations; the rule of law; the promise of disarmament and foreign policies based on disarmament via the formulation of the League of Nations.
The League was ineffective in stopping the military aggression that led to World War II. It ceased its work during the war and dissolved in 1946. The United Nations assumed its assets and carries on much of its work.
Foreign Policy & Diplomacy
Foreign policies are based on circumstantial variables as well as contending theories concerning how to best achieve the interests of a state in its interaction with other states.
Diplomacy focuses on the structures and instruments available for diplomacy and the changing scope of interaction with international actors.
Contemporary international institutions in which groups of states or other actors can participate include International Non Government Organizations (INGOs) or the UN system. The European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Association for South East Asian Nations or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation are also other regional groupings with multiple functions.
Contemporary: Current or from the same time period
Aggression: Violent behavior
Disarmament: reduction of weaponry
Formulation: to devise or to design
Circumstantial: based on circumstances or ground realities