Essay: Ego in World Politics

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IGOs in World Politics

Nonstate actors, including nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, have been seeking more influence in the global community (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). Intergovernmental organizations, or IGOs, have become increasingly commonplace in the past century. From 37 IGOs in 1909 to nearly 1,000 IGOs by the start of 2009 (Kegley, 2010), the proliferation of IGOs altered the field of international relations and shaped each country's foreign relations.

IGOs including the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund aim to shape everything from international peace and security to economic development ( Kegley & Blanton, 2010). Some theorists posit that the future of world politics is one where IGOs are the primary actors in the global arena. However, this paper will demonstrate that, with today's international climate, IGOs will remain important and beneficial for foreign relations, but are not the future of global governance.

Global governance refers to the wielding of authority across national borders (Lake, 2010). An international organization may wield authority through supranationalism or pooled sovereignty. Supranationalism refers to the organization's authority that goes beyond the approval of member nations and pooled sovereignty refers to the importance of individual states in the decision-making and the authority of the international institution (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). If IGOs are to become the primary actors in world politics, they will need supranational authority or their authority will remain subservient to the sovereignty of the states that comprise them.

The theory of liberalism asserts that IGOs are becoming the primary actors in the global arena because the self-serving state actors have found benefits in international organizations, rules, and coordinated behavior (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). The theory of realism views states as the primary actors in world politics and focuses on the states protecting their own interests as best as possible through military and alliances (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). These are the two theories that stand in opposition to one another on the future of IGOs. While both theories have their strengths and weaknesses, realism best predicts the future of world politics with states remaining the key actors.

Liberalists see IGOs as the future of global governance because states pursue collective action and create international rules as opposed to acting unilaterally in their own self-interest (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). The power of coordinated action makes IGOs beneficial. For example, sanctions have been used against nations to condemn certain actions or coerce a desired response (Kegley & Blanton, 2010), but individual nations acting alone cannot have the same impact as collective action. The United States placed economic sanctions on Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power in the 1960s, but it did not have the backing of other countries and the sanctions were ineffective (Roca, 1987).

In contrast, the United Nations Security Council can impose sanctions that will carry the backing of the member states of the United Nations. The Security Council has applied economic sanctions in numerous cases, including sanctions as a means of criticism of South Africa's apartheid regime. The economic sanctions began as voluntary for countries to impose, but became mandatory. (Scharf, 2007) When levied by not just the United States, but the entirety of the United Nations, the economic sanctions are more powerful and more likely to get results for the global community.

While IGOs are beneficial in this manner, the example of the UN indicates that states remain the primary actors. While the Security Council Resolutions can condemn actions and list economic sanctions to be pursued, it is up to individual nations to impose the sanctions (Scharf, 2007). The realist theory notes that states are the primary actors (Kegley & Blanton, 2010) and, even with collective action, the individual nations are the parties taking the actions.

Additionally, the Security Council has some permanent members that can exercise a veto for any reason they see fit. Economic sanctions cannot proceed if there is a veto and, historically, permanent members acting in their own self-interest have used the veto to block economic sanctions that other members of the Security Council have supported. (Scharf, 2007) if states, acting to protect their self-interest, can prevent action of an intergovernmental organization, the states remain the primary actor, with the IGO coming second to that nation's interests.

Some IGOs also create authority beyond that which is in existence at the domestic level of its member states. For example, the African Development Bank, a regional IGO, has created an oversight office to handle audits, investigations, and evaluations, though such a mechanism may not be available in many of the member states (Grigorescu, 2010). This gives the impression that IGOs have authority independent of the authority of individual states. However, the oversight mechanism may not necessarily apply to control the actions of a sovereign nation, but simply provide a check on the actions of the IGO. In other words, the IGO is beneficial because it can take collective action and has an office of oversight to protect against corruption within the IGO, but the office of oversight exercises no authority over the domestic affairs of states.

The European Union also presents an ongoing conflict of providing independent authority to an IGO. The EU is another regional organization, comprised of 27 member states as of 2007. The EU has an EU Commission that oversees the negotiation of treaties and manages the budget of the EU. The budget of the EU derives some of its funding from sources not under the direct control of one or more member states, indicating the independence of this IGO. However, there are still national vetoes present that prevent the EU from acting independently of state interests. (Kegley & Blanton, 2010) the EU has some elements of supranationalism, but retains pooled sovereignty in most areas.

The EU's supranational elements may lend support to the liberalism theory that the future of world politics will have IGOs as the primary actor. Treaties that attempted to make institutional reforms to the EU that would make it a supranational entity have been vetoed by the French, Dutch, Irish, and Danes (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). However, the failed attempts to give more independent authority to the EU as its own entity demonstrates the unlikelihood that such a future will be realized and provides support for the realist's assertion that states remain and will remain the primary actor in world politics.

The World Bank was created to promote economic growth (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). This purpose demonstrates the positive impact that IGOs can have. It creates a central mechanism by which economic development can be facilitated, allowing nations that need assistance and nations willing to provide assistance to come together. A related IGO, the International Monetary Fund, also provides loans for nations in economic crises (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). The World Bank and the IMF demonstrate the positive impact of IGOs and the potential benefits for the international community.

The World Bank is run by a board of governors comprised of one governor and one alternate from each member nation and by an executive board that has a permanent place for the nations with the largest shares of the World Bank's capital stock (Kegley & Blanton, 2010). The World Bank also exemplifies the primacy of individual nations in the global arena. Superpower nations retain the strongest positions in the World Bank's governance and funding comes from pledges from the members (Kegley & Blanton, 2010).

Researchers have noted donor selectivity in willingness to provide funding for nations with less democratic governments (Winters, 2010). The ability of the World Bank to pursue economic development would be crippled without the donations from member states. As long as members retain the ability to not provide financial assistance to requesting nations, the authority remains with individual nations and not the World… [END OF PREVIEW]

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