In appraising critical IR theory after twenty-five years, this article begins by asking whether critical theory implicitly reinforces the 'superiority' of Western civilisation and naturalises Western imperialism. In revealing the Eurocentrism of much of critical IR theory the article proceeds to reconstruct it by steering it in fresh non-Eurocentric directions. This is not to say that extant critical theory is moribund since it undoubtedly has much to offer. But it is to say that until the problem of Eurocentrism is exorcised from its body theoretique, critical theory inadvertently lies in danger of joining the ranks of problem-solving theories. The first two sections deconstruct the leading schools of critical IR theory - Gramscianism, postmodernism and feminism - to reveal their frequent lapsing into Eurocentrism, while the final section seeks to decolonise 'Westphilian' critical IR by reconstructing a 'post-racist IR'. And this in turn leads on to the conclusion, which sketches out a post-racist emancipatory political project that can help begin the urgent task of effecting global reconciliation between East and West.
This article examines wartime sexual violence, one of the most recurring wartime human rights abuses. It asserts that our theorisations need further development, particularly in regard to the way that masculinities and the intersections with constructions of ethnicity feature in wartime sexual violence. The article also argues that although women and girls are the predominant victims of sexual violence and men and boys the predominant agents, we must also be able to account for the presence of male victims and female agents. This, however, engenders a problem; much of the women's human rights discourse and existing international mechanisms for addressing wartime sexual violence tend to reify the male-perpetrator/female-victim paradigm. This is a problem which feminist human rights theorists and activists need to address.
This article constitutes an attempted bridge-building between the so-called 'Copenhagen School' and the so-called 'Welsh School' of security studies. The thesis of communality rests upon an evaluative bifurcation of the concept of securitisation into positive and negative securitisation. In tandem with this lies a bifurcation of the concept of desecuritisation into positive and negative desecuritisation. The two positive concepts are believed to be of equal value, with both trumping over the two negative concepts. This evaluative strategy of securitisation/desecuritisation, it is hoped will combine the optimistic perception of security by 'Welsh School' critical security theorists, with the more pessimistic perception of security associated with the Copenhagen School - particularly with that of Ole Wæver, the originator of securitisation theory. Such a strategy is seen as advantageous for three reasons. First, it is believed that the more unified these critical theories are, the stronger a challenge they can offer to the mainstream of security studies; second, the more united the academy the more adoptable are its theories for policymakers (EU or otherwise) and third the strategy proposed here paves the way for a more evaluative engagement with security on the part of the analyst, allowing for normative - but denying infinite - conceptualisations of security. In order to show that there are differences between the utility of securitisation and desecuritisation, this article demonstrates the distinctions by way of illustrative examples, all of which are taken from the environmental security sector. By means of this practical application, the article will show that neither securitisation nor desecuritisation are, in and of themselves positive or negative. It is rather the case that the outcome of a securitisation/ desecuritisation is always issue dependent - something reflected here in the suggested two-tier structure of securitisation.
Torture has been widely practiced by US forces as an officially-sanctioned information gathering strategy in the war on terrorism. At the same time, public attitudes have exhibited a growing tolerance towards the torture of terrorist suspects. This article examines the role of elite political discourse in constructing and sustaining the conditions necessary for the acceptance and normalisation of torture. It argues that a focus on elite discourse is crucial for understanding how torture comes to be practised because discourses set the logic and parameters of policy formulation and create the wider social legitimacy that is required to enact policy, thereby facilitating the construction of a broader torture-sustaining reality. The study's findings highlight the role of ideational factors in policy analysis and have important normative implications.
In this article I argue that the demands of irregular migrants to belong to political communities constitute key contemporary sites of 'the political'. I also argue that geographies associated with neoliberal globalisation (transnational production circuits, special economic zones and global cities) are implicated in irregular migration flows and in new conceptions of political belonging. In relation to these claims, I reflect upon recent mobilisations in the US context, in which hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants and their supporters asserted the right to belong. I suggest that similar claims to belong are likely to proliferate and that neoliberal geographies may provide some clues as to where and how these contemporary frontiers of the political might proceed. I conclude by suggesting that a multidimensional approach to political belonging provides a sound conceptual starting point for the analytical and normative challenges raised by both the claims of non-status migrants and the sovereign practices of contemporary states.
Kelsen and Schmitt, two leading legal theorists of the twentieth century, constitute a powerful pair that sheds light on the intertwining of politics and law in the phenomenon of sovereignty. Although their conceptions of sovereignty are far apart, they are interconnected as different ways of making sense of the same social phenomenon, or what I call the 'practice of sovereignty', whereby an ultimately unauthorised authority continuously authorises itself as the authority and the rest by and large accept this, acquiesce in this, or are made to do so. Having clarified their differences and interconnection, I explore some of the implications of the two writers' differing conceptions of sovereignty and of the practice of sovereignty that underlie them.
The International Labour Organisation's Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998 formalised an approach to global labour issues known as the Core Labour Standards (CLS). The CLS have privileged a specific set of labour standards as possessing the kinds of universalistic qualities associated with ideas of 'human rights'; the abolition of forced and child labour, equality of opportunity, and trade union rights. But what does this 'human rights' approach mean from the point of view of those women workers who dominate employment in some of the most globalised, and insecure, industries in the world? In this article, I make the case for critical feminist engagement with the gender-blind, and neoliberal-compatible, approach to economic rights as set out in the CLS. Not least, this article raises wider concerns about the insufficiency of approaches to economic rights that are designed to work within the (gendered) structures of a neoliberal economic development paradigm. It is suggested that the CLS have endorsed a voluntarist approach to labour standards that views the promotion and regulation of human rights by global corporations as unproblematic. The article challenges this perspective, drawing upon the work of number of feminist scholars working in the area of women's employment and corporate codes of conduct. These feminist writings have specifically avoided the language of human rights; thus questions need to be asked concerning the possibilities and the limitations that the CLS opens up for women's human rights activism.
Humanitarianism - that is, the political, economic and military interference in the domestic affairs of a state justified by a nascent transnational morality - is one of the defining and most controversial features of the post-Cold War period. This article advances nine theses, arguing that humanitarianism has a simplistic worldview, that coercive humanitarian actions trigger negative consequences, that humanitarianism is quite effective in sheltering Western states from the spillover effects of political crises but is less so in solving the problems it claims to address. These arguments are illustrated with reference to four prominent cases: Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and Darfur. The article concludes with a brief outline of an alternative humanitarian approach.
The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq coupled with the increased militarisation of international relations as part of the 'war on terror' has led to the development of a 'blood for oil' thesis that posits the centrality of oil and the economic interests of US oil corporations to American intervention in the Third World. This article argues that this thesis, whilst correct in identifying the importance of energy to US intervention, is not sufficiently attentive to the dual nature of American resource interventions whereby the American state seeks not only to ensure US oil supplies but also to maintain sufficient oil supplies for the global economy as a whole. American intervention is thus driven by oil to a large extent, but in different ways to those commonly suggested by 'blood for oil' theorists. In contrast to this thesis I argue that recent energy security moves to diversify oil acquisition away from the Middle East towards new areas such as South America, the Caspian region and Africa continue to be subject to this dual logic. Moreover, counter-insurgency warfare is increasingly being deployed to insulate oil-rich states from internal pressures which is in turn having a profound effect on human rights, social justice and state formation in the global South.
First generation Frankfurt School critical theorists argued that global solidarity was possible because human beings have similar vulnerabilities to mental and physical suffering. This approach to solidarity remains significant for any discussion of the ethical aspirations of critical theory. It also has ramifications for efforts to develop a sociological approach to global moral codes which is influenced by the idea of an emancipatory social theory. Informed by certain themes which were developed by Simone Weil, this article draws on the writings of Fromm, Horkheimer, Adorno and Elias to consider how a sociology of international moral codes can be developed. One of the aims of this project is to consider how far global moralities have developed forms of solidarity around the recognition of shared vulnerabilities to mental and physical suffering which are part of the species' biological legacy.
All critical theories lay claim to some kind of account not only of the present of international politics and its relation to possible futures, but also of the role of critical theory in the present and future in international politics. This article argues that if critical international theory is to have a future that lives up to its revolutionary ambition, then it needs to listen more carefully to the voices of postcolonial and feminist critics and take on board the heterotemporality of international politics.
The prevailing scholarly orthodoxy regarding recent diplomatic initiatives in the Asia-Pacific assumes that East Asia is evolving into a distinctive regional community. The orthodoxy attributes this development to the growing influence of the diplomatic practices espoused by the Association of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN) and its related institutions. However, a paradox remains, namely: despite the failure of ASEAN's distinctive practice to fulfil its rhetorical promise in Southeast Asia both immediately prior to and in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, it is nevertheless considered sufficient to validate the projection of ASEAN defined norms onto a wider Pacific canvas. This study analyses how an academic preference for constructivism has misinterpreted the growth in official rhetoric extolling East Asian regionalism since 1997 in a way that has helped produce and reinforce this paradox. By contrast, we contend that government declarations of a developing East Asian identity actually serve to obscure the continuation of traditional interstate relations and do not herald any wider, let alone inexorable, movement towards an integrated regional community.
Cosmopolitan thought and practice bring into sharp focus the question of solidarity, its articulations, and implications in relation to how the political is understood in the sphere of the international. Where liberal cosmopolitanism aims its remit at a transcendent sphere of humanity, seeking to place humanity as the constitutive feature of a redesigned political community, a cosmopolitanism that is distinctly political in its orientation takes the postcolonial critique seriously, unravels the complicities of liberal cosmopolitan articulations of solidarity in global structures of domination, and locates its self-definition in an imminent critique of modernity. The political cosmopolitanism defined in the article presents a conception of solidarity without community, a conception that at once both recognises modernity's legacy in the perpetuation of inequality and enables a conception of the universal that is not complicit in such relations.
Immanuel Kant and Samuel Pufendorf were both exercised by the relationship between politics, morality and lawful authority; a relationship that goes to the heart of the sovereign state's existence and legitimacy. However, while Kant defended the authority of the moral law, believing morality provides higher authoritative norms than the sovereign state, Pufendorf defends the political morality of authority, believing the sovereign state should submit to no higher moral norms. The rivalry between these two positions is reprised in current debate between cosmopolitanism and statism over humanitarian intervention. Arguing against statism, this article defends a Habermasian-style critical international theory which affords a 'cosmopolitanism without imperialism'.
This article critically examines the question of whether poverty has been reduced in recent years, and if so, whether this is a result of neoliberal and/or globalisation friendly policies. The first section problematises at least some claims made for poverty reduction and the second section questions any causal link between 'pro-globalisation' policies and poverty reduction. The third and final section considers in detail the nature of the contemporary global economy, and in examining the evidence concerning capital flows shows how, contrary to the claims made by neoliberals and some globalisation theorists, capital is not dispersing throughout the world. Moreover, even when the 'correct policies' are adopted, this is unlikely to happen. I then conclude by suggesting why 'actually existing globalidation' does not alleviate, and may indeed intensify, global inequalities.
Borrowing from Norbert Elias, we introduce the habitus of restraint to the study of security communities. This habitus constitutes a key dimension of the glue that holds security communities together. The perceived compatibility of practices emanating from the habitus that members hold fosters the collective identity upon which a security community is built. The violation of a member's habitus by the practices of another member, however, disrupts the reproduction of collective identity and triggers a crisis of the security community. Our analysis of Germany's reaction to Washington's case for war against Iraq provides empirical evidence for the salience of the habitus for the internal dynamics of security communities.
The ‘separation fence’ ‘constructed by Israel to isolate itself from the Palestinians’ raises many questions. Why was the construction of a fence perceived by the Israelis as a solution and as the only solution? What determined the specific, serpentine path of the fence and what impact does it have on both Palestinian and Israeli societies? A resulting reconfiguration of the power structure within Palestinian society is clearly unfolding and deserves analysis.
Twenty-five years ago, theoretical reflection on International Relations (IR) was dominated by three broad discourses. In the United States the behavioural revolution of the 1950s and 1960s had helped to create a field that was heavily influenced by various assumptions allegedly derived from the natural sciences. Of course, variety existed within the behaviourist camp. Some preferred the heavily quantitative approach that had become especially influential in the 1960s, while others were exploring the burgeoning literature of rational and public choice, derived from the game theoretic approaches pioneered at the RAND corporation. Perhaps the most influential theoretical voice of the late 1970s, Kenneth Waltz, chose neither; instead he developed his Theory of International Politics around an austere conception of parsimony and systems derived from his reading in contemporary philosophy of science.
I develop a framework to account for torture, which I argue should be understood with reference to international relations. I show that torture is intended as a tool to ensure the security, stability and legitimacy of elites, often transnationally, but there is often a disjuncture between its intended and actual outcomes. Despite dominant claims that torture is used to defeat security threats, most torture is intended to deter political opposition and secure legitimacy for elites. I conclude that torture should be renounced, both on moral grounds, and because it is not necessary for the functions it is intended to serve.
What are we to make of the neoconservative challenge to traditional international thought? Should we content ourselves, as many have done, to return to classical realism in response? Rather than offer another realist assessment of neoconservative foreign policy this article turns to Hannah Arendt. In a very different language, Arendt articulated a critique of the dangers of moralism in the political realm that avoids realist cynicism. She is also better placed to challenge the neoconservative vision of international affairs, ideological conviction, and their relationship to democratic society. Reading Arendt against Leo Strauss suggests that the fundamental problem with neoconservative ideology concerns its understanding of the place of philosophy in the public realm, the relationship between political thought and practice, ideas and action. She suggests why neoconservatives may be experts at selling wars but seem less adept at winning them.