The Importance of Norms in International Relations

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Existing theories have failed to explain the essence of variations in behavior in the study of when major states diverge from or conform to global behavioral norms. A framework of explanatory variables is offered instead,  but their relative importance becomes dependent on the domestic prominence levels of the issue area. The autonomous power that norms have in shaping, enabling or constraining state behavior is usually trumped by local level economic and political concerns as well as strategic interests at global levels.Globalization can also help in reducing instead of increasing behavioral consistency levels with global norms.     

What surprised you most about the reading

One thing that has surprised me is the fact that powerful nations tend to enjoy a broader range of choices to norms as compared to the weaker ones. Moreover, the same states are responsible for setting the norms associated with global rules. The most powerful nations are likely to behave consistently with such regulations if they are reflecting on their interests (Foot and Walter 332). It is interesting to note that no state has a perfect consistency despite some consistencies being of importance than others. The exchange rates in China have raised doubts about its willingness to strengthen or propose existing international rules (Foot and Walter 338). China is criticizing the inconsistencies of the US behavior to raise (Foot and Walter 345). It has tried to foster a perception of being peaceful, non-threatening and responsible great power.       

Questions Raised

The question that might be assumed is what major powers are the norm-makers and which norm-takers are less critical. China’s question for resonance with domestic priorities and norms are essential in determining its willingness to observe global norms. The U.S has not been willing to abide by those rules despite being a norm-maker. The other question raised is whether globalization is necessarily positive in maintaining global order frameworks. 

Work Cited

Foot, Rosemary, and Andrew Walter. "Global norms and major state behaviour: The cases of China and the United States." European Journal of International Relations 19.2 (2013): 329-352.

October 05, 2023

Government Sociology

Subject area:

International Relations

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