The system of international relations has undergone tremendous changes since the end of the World War II and during the epoch of the League of Nations. Increased technological and telecommunications advancements have made globalization a reality. International theories have placed much emphasizes on the state interests. They argue that states often include self-preservation, economic prosperity and military security over other states interests. International theories of Policy can be significantly influenced not only by political, social or ethnical factors in an economy, but also more fundamentally, economic factors. In essence, globalization means a significant increase of the emergence, the implementation and the consequences of individual affairs in the various sectors of life.
This paper will canvas when and why states respect norms using based on arguments derived from international theories like realism and liberalism among other theories of international relations. International relations and the global world at large became subject to human activity. Therefore, it is vital that norms adopted by states should have universal meaning and character while functioning as an instrument of achieving goals and aspiration of the people. This paper will canvas the phenomena when and why states respect norms. It is upon this back drop that the paper will examine the utility to comply with universal human rights with regards to states’ respect of norms. This is essential because the understanding and implementation of norms guarantee stable development for all the members of the globalized community.
An overhaul of the existing norms is mandatory in cognizance of emerging new actors and increased significance of international organizations in a globalized world. According to realism, states are always looking for ways to increase their power relative to others. It is during such conditions that states must adhere and uphold norms. Micheal Barnett and Martha Finnemore posit that international organizations (IOs) are not mere structural units in the system of international relations and global governance. States should be called to uphold and respect not only, their internal norms, but also international obligations entered into through treaties and protocols. Realism posits that the only certainty in international affairs is power. Thus states primary interest is self-preservation. Furthermore, the nature and structure of IOs make it desirable to respect norms arising from shared norms and obligations. They get legitimization by acting in the universal liberal sphere. Thus they act independently and get involved in inter-state cooperation, which has much more significance in the international political development. This ensures that states retain their rightful roles as the principal actors in the international arena.
Liberalism calls for the need to increase broad ties between nations. This is why states should respect norms because of decrease significance of military power. Indeed, liberalism posit that military is not the only form of power that is available to states. The need for states to respect norms is further necessitated by the fact that with increased globalization, the growing numbers of IOs increase the cross-border interactions between states in the world system. This is a precondition for a radical transformation of the system of international relations. It leads to the formation of a global world community in which self-organization and regulation of social processes will be carried out not by the interaction between the states, but also directly through the mechanisms of IOs’ cooperation. In this instance, norms are essential for the smooth interaction between states. The liberal doctrine finds its best implementation in the activities of many IOs. However, Barnett and Finnemore demonstrate the destructive impact of the IMF, WB, and the WTO in terms of putting economic growth above internal social affairs. It is, therefore, extremely cardinal that states establish norms and ensure they are respect by both the state and the IOs to challenge the monopoly of a single party by finding a compromise between the IOs and the state.
Theories of international relations urge nations to respect norms. They argue that states should pursue moral goals and state acts on the international arena should be ethical. Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks argue that states can adopt a number of models that world enable them to respect norms of multi-level governance and flexible governance. In a sense, this would facilitate the coordination between global and local actors. The first model, based on theoretical works of the federalists, is based on relatively few levels on which different governments function. The significant inter-governmental relations are between the central government and subnational governments. The essential feature of such a model is that jurisdictions of different levels of governance do not intersect. Implementation of this model provides states jurisdiction equal to that of IOs, therefore, creating norms of interaction between these two entities. On the other hand, the second model emphasizes on task-specificity of each jurisdiction. According to this model, citizens are served not by the government, but by public service industries. It is common at local levels, where a number of local challenges are settled by either the public service or organizations or both of them.
Though proposed by a number of authors and scholars, canvasing international theories, there is no tangible proof that this model can be actualized at a global stage. It is more pragmatic that this type of flexible governance will be implemented under the leadership of the government. It benefits both actors, that’s the state will establish such norms, under which it will feel comfortable in dealing with the national affairs, and the IOs will deal with concrete problems of local communities under official recognition of the state. In such a case, the state must respect established norms not only because it has an obligation to do so, but also more significantly because they are of mutual benefits to all the actors. The state has to respect norms when all actors respect them as well in order to ensure peaceful and effective co-existence.
Additionally, it can be argued that states should respect norms in order to be in tandem with the requirements of universal human rights obligations. According to the theory of liberalism, international organizations and the law have no power or force; they only exist if states forming the community of nations accept them. In order for the concept of human rights, as envision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms of 1948, all states have a mandatory obligation to respect norms. Two conundrums face scholars in the articulation of this argue. These are the heterogeneity of the political regimes and the deficiency in the explanatory basis of the concepts of human rights. Hunjoon Kim and Kathryn Sikkink collected data on 100 transitional countries to find out whether the prosecution of human rights violations can decrease repression. The study showed that increased enforcement of law contributed to lessening of the state repressions. Both normative and coercive factors contribute significantly to the explanation of human rights’ commitment. However, during the transition period many states use their amnesty right to violate any norms of traditional justice. It is understood that social, political or economic bonds between non-democratic or transitional regime under leverages the vulnerability of the external democratization pressure.
Leaders should act morally; however, some liberal scholars have argued that they must not let moral concerns guide foreign policy. It is at such times that states should respect international norms. It is vital that during international interactions between states should adhere to a certain standard code to ensure certainty and reduce conflict. It is trite to contest human rights violations in non-democratic countries and societies. Any desired improvements in this sphere can only take shape with the expansion of the democratic space. The adoption of tenets of democratic principles and ideals would ensure that the government upholds norms from both local and international instruments of governance. This is based on the concepts of leverages and linkages. It is vital to note that countries with weak linkages hardly achieve positive results in the arena of human rights enforcement. Indeed, western leverage can also be limited by the existence of the regional leader or divisions in pro-democracy camp. It is a cognizable phenomenon that universal human rights understanding and adherence is not theoretically well grounded. It is only when all countries in the world fully embrace the letter and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms of 1948 that the respect towards local and international norms will become a reality. It is vital for all countries to respect this fundamental instrumental of international norms and principles and uphold universal human rights based on this document. Failure to do so will lead to a phenomenon where the community of nations is unable to implement the fundamentals principles of human rights.
Sometimes states may share the same national interests. During such times it is cardinal for states to respect norms. This is because, according to the theory of realism, there is no overarching power can that force states to respect global rules. It is mandatory that all countries respect this piece of international norm. It will not only enable it to make competent and adequate measures to guarantee the implementation, but also to safeguard people from violation of human rights. If the community of nations does not integrate on this basis, then the universal human rights will forever carry bear the tag of “double standards” in their implementation. Therefore, it can be argued that states should respect this norm in order to guarantee the true equality of the rights of people in the world. However, human rights can only become universal when all countries treat this norm as something innate to human dignity. Democracy as a set of institutions can spread human rights as a value through mechanisms of linkages and leverages. The human rights persecution, articulated by Hunjoon and Sikkink, can only come to fruition when the country fully embraces the doctrines of democracy.
In conclusion, this paper has used three cardinal international relations theories of liberalism and realism to articulate a case why and when states should respect norms. The nexus between these theories and the expansion of the arena of human right and democracy has been succinctly canvased. The growing influence of IOs and their contributions towards increased globalizations necessitates respect of norms. The paper interrogates the two system of governance propagated by Hooghe and Marks and the potential they have in creating a number of mutually beneficial norms for the IOs and the State. Secondly, the paper also comprehensively argues that ideals and concepts of human rights necessitate that states respect the rule of law thus observe norms. The argument is premised on the ideals of a just society as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms Convention of 1948. However, the most significant conundrum arises when scientists deal with non-democratic regimes that do not hesitate to violate these rights. In this case, a combination of prosecutions, linkages and leverages can significantly contribute to a state’s democratization process. More significantly, it is cardinal to note that liberal democracies are built on the states’ respect for norms.
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