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About this book

This innovative text explores international relations with the tools of political theory. In so doing, it contributes to and advances the idea of international political theory.

The book focuses on four key concepts – authority, rules, rights, and responsibilities – and four important topics – wealth, violence, nature and belief. In each of these areas, the book draws on key figures in political theory to explore, explain and evaluate the current global order. Chapters address such contested issues as humanitarian intervention, LGBT rights, climate change, and our collective responsibilities for alleviating global poverty. The book invites students into a conversation about international political theory, one that will help orient them in an increasingly complicated and pluralist international order.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Abstract
On 17 June 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution expressing grave concerns about discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution, proposed by South Africa, passed on the basis of a 23–19 vote. It called upon the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to examine the laws and policies of states concerning the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons. As a result, the UN High Commissioner has been actively engaged in support of LGBT rights, which led to the creation of a dedicated website, UN Free & Equal (www.unfe.org), to disseminate information about such rights and promote a greater awareness of them.
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 1. Authority

Abstract
The Introduction began with a discussion of the UNHRC passing a resolution in 2011 calling for the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights to investigate the human rights records of all member states. The fact that the particular form of discrimination being investigated concerns sexual orientation has made this resolution more controversial than others. Indeed, any resolution that requests such an investigation could be deemed controversial, for it infringes on the prerogatives of sovereignty, the ability of nation-states to determine their own policies concerning the rights of their citizens. On what basis can an organ of the UN claim such authority?
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 2. Rules and Laws

Abstract
In December 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), supported by the Canadian government, issued The Responsibility to Protect, a report that sought to shift the discourse of international humanitarian action and international security away from debates on the right to intervene towards a discourse of ‘responsibility’ (ICISS 2001). It arose, at least in part, from the frustration of many that while a serious humanitarian disaster was developing in Kosovo, the UN Security Council would not authorize military action, which led NATO to launch an air war to halt the Yugoslav leadership’s attacks on the Albanian/ Muslim community. The release of the document was, however, overshadowed by the American response to 9/11, although it has seen a return in international security debates, particularly those emanating from the UN.
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 3. Rights and Responsibilities

Abstract
On 11 January 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: United States of America (UNHRC 2011). The report results from the UNHRC’s mandate to review each country in the international system every four years to examine its record on human rights. Each country is assessed by a troika of other member countries from the UNHRC. They are tasked with examining the extent to which countries conform to their obligations under the various human rights treaties in the international order. The US government provided the UNHRC with a detailed report in advance, which resulted in part from extensive consultations with members of the public (US Department of State 2010).
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 4. Wealth

Abstract
In 2011, the head of one bank in the US received a total compensation package of over $20 million. In the same year, an average farmer in Ethiopia earned around $200 a year. Their respective roles undoubtedly require different amounts of time and different levels of education, and the cost of living in their respective locations is not the same. Yet, do these differences truly justify such a vast inequality in income levels?
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 5. Violence

Abstract
On 24 January 2013, Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, launched a formal inquiry into the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing in counterterrorism operations. In his statement launching the inquiry, Emmerson (2013: 2) stated that the investigation was the result of requests by states in the UNHRC as well as ‘increasing international concern surrounding the issue of remote targeted killing through the use of UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]’. Emmerson’s investigation focused primarily on establishing whether or not drone strikes conform to international humanitarian law, or what was once called the ‘laws of war’. His efforts focus on 25 cases of drone strikes drawn from Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Palestine. The states using drone strikes in these areas that are the focus of the investigation are not named in his statement, but evidence suggests they will be focused primarily on the US and the UK, with the possible inclusion of Israel.
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 6. Nature

Abstract
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Fourth Assessment Report on the state of the world’s climate, which warned: ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea levels’ (IPCC 2007). The report presents further evidence to establish what it calls the ‘anthropogenic drivers’ of climate change, that is, the actions brought about by human beings as opposed to those resulting from atmospheric changes. The report is clear that the causes attributable to human action, particularly fossil fuel use, have greatly increased climate change over the past 200 years. The consequences of climate change are dire, as the report warns, including potential harm to vast numbers of inhabitants of the planet. The next IPCC report is due out in 2014, and its conclusions seem destined to reinforce those already established by the previous report.
Anthony F. Lang

Chapter 7. Belief

Abstract
In June 2013, the Russian Duma passed a law making ‘homosexual propaganda directed toward children’ illegal. Some days later, it passed another law making it illegal for same-sex couples to adopt children. In response to criticism of these laws, President Vladimir Putin claimed: ‘We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations. We have a ban on promoting homosexuality and paedophilia among minors’ (BBC Online 2014). Some have argued that attitudes in Russia towards gay and lesbian rights have been partly shaped by the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2007, in an address to the Council of Europe, Patriarch Aleksii, the then leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, argued that homosexuality was a sickness and a sin (Anderson 2012). Patriarch Kirill, his successor, has made similar statements. He has criticized the efforts of the European Court of Human Rights, an organ of the Council of Europe of which Russia is a member, to protect the rights of gays and lesbians. He has gone even further than this, stating:
This [homosexuality] is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction. (Manson 2013)
Anthony F. Lang

Conclusion

Abstract
This book has explored the nature of international political life by engaging with the theories and ideas of a range of individuals. Each chapter has focused on a few central theorists, although always in relation to a wider body of literature, drawn from IR theory, international law and ethics. The insights from these thinkers arise from a number of different historical, regional and cultural contexts. As such, they provide their insights into contemporary political life in ways that are not always obvious and do not necessarily lead to straightforward conclusions.
Anthony F. Lang
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