The seminar introduces into the theories of international regimes. According to a widely accepted definition, international regimes are “implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations” (Krasner). States-as-actors cooperate by entering into multilateral agreements and treaties, eventually establishing international organizations (IO), such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Funds (IWF), or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Yet, there are not only international treaties, on the one side, and commitments to IO membership, on the other, constraining the behavior of states. What is more, there is a whole range of formal, informal and normative settings shaping state actions in one way or another. IR theories differ in their understandings of what the main driving forces shaping emergence and persistence of these international regimes are. Neorealism presumes that the distribution of power among states strongly affects prospects for effective regimes to emerge and to persist in an issue-area, such as security, trade, or finance. Neoliberal institutionalism, by contrast, focuses on interest rather than power. It emphasizes the role of international regimes in helping governments to realize common goals. Accordingly, specific constellations of state interests decide upon the likelihood of international regimes to emerge. Once established, regimes, then, can help states to achieve collective goals, for instance, by reducing transaction costs, providing information, and making behavior of states more transparent and therefore predictable for all. Since the late 1980s, the 'social constructivist turn' has been providing a third variable apart from ‘power’ and ‘interest’. Special emphasis is put on 'ideas' in general, and so called 'changing agents' in particular (transnational advocay coalitions, epistemic communities), able and capable of bringing governments to cooperate according to the idea they seek to push forward. Finally, starting from a critical, poststructuralist perspective, a fourth 'school' considers international regimes not as being part of a functional problem-solving methodology. Instead, emphasis is put on language, symbols, and a specific mode of reasoning making of international regimes a “system of truths” out of which a certain (disciplined) behavior of rule acceptance and compliance can only occur. Whereas the many understandings of international regimes in liberal IR theories emphasize the role of rules in one way or another (regulative vs constitutive), this school draws attention to the role of discourse and discipline, on the one hand, and rule contestation, on the other.

Semester: ST 2019