SOCS 625
Managing International Relations in a Complex World: International Organization in the Modern Age

Giulio Gallarotti    

Course Description
In the modern world of the global village, nations can no longer use their boundaries to isolate themselves from problems in the world at large. Technology and globalization have made the planet a very intimate place indeed. In such an environment, solving global problems has become ever more crucial as the spreading web of interdependence ties the fate of nations closely together. Nations have increasingly attempted to manage this interdependence collectively through the use of international organizations. In some cases these organizations have been hailed as the very foundation for building an international system based on law and order (the United Nations), while in other cases these organizations have been vilified as the instruments of imperialism (International Monetary Fund and World Bank). This course represents a systematic study of these organizations: their structures, impact, successes, and failures. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing competing theories of international organization and evaluating the performance of these institutions in today's most important international issue‑areas: security, trade, money, economic development, food aid, human rights, and the environment. In addition, the class will participate in a simulated diplomatic bargaining session on current international issues.

The final grade will be based on two 8‑page research papers on topics to be handed out during the semester, and participation (each will count for one-third). The first paper is due on or before March 24 .  The final paper will be due on or before April 5. 

The format of the course will be principally discussion. Each class will be preceded by a handout which will help you prepare for the discussion.


 All readings on this syllabus are required, unless stated otherwise. The readings will be available in a packet from Minuteman Press (call 347-5700 to reserve a copy). Many of the readings other than the texts will also be on electronic reserve, which can be accessed from the library homepage. The following books will serve as texts for the course, and are recommended for purchase at the Atticus book store: 

 Lawrence Ziring, Robert Riggs and Jack Plano, The United Nations, 3rd Edition (if 3rd isn’t available, buy the 4th edition) 

Michael Oldstone,  Viruses, Plagues and History 

UNA‑USA, A Global Agenda: Issues Before the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations

International Organization as a Force for Peace and Stability

International organization (IO) is a fairly recent phenomenon. The last 100 years have seen the growth of international governmental organizations (IGOs) and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) from very few to over 800 and 8,000 respectively. Much debate has gone on over the origins and nature of this new means of managing interdependence among nations. But even more attention has gravitated around the issue of the effects of international organization. A cursory reading of the daily press will show that the world is far from a federated system of nations being governed by powerful organizations like the UN. We see that issues are much  discussed in these international fora, but the resolutions (which themselves are never ubiquitous) are infrequently binding in an absolute sense. We also see that the laws and norms of these organizations are rarely enforced. These circumstances lead many (both cynics and non‑cynics) to conclude that international organization is not a central player in international politics. And when it does make an  impact, it is at a very low level of salience (i.e., IOs are given more power over less politicized issues such as transportation and communication). 

This view is compelling, but hardly unproblematic. It assumes that the impact of an actor is proportional to its involvement in a situation and its ability to influence other actors in that same situation. However, in international politics, as in social relations in general, this is not the case. Sometimes very small functions can generate great influence over outcomes. How many wars has the discussion which has gone on in the UN prevented? How many revolutions has the economic aid of the IMF and World Bank prevented? Considering the fact that many international crises are ignited by very small incidents (e.g., the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand), very small functions which are normally played by IOs may very well generate  a disproportionate impact on international relations. Hence, in this case, small might very well carry a big impact (e.g., "for want of a horse, my kingdom was lost"). 

This is an important consideration when judging the effectiveness of IO in solving the principal problems of international relations. Each function which is intended to stabilize some set of relations must be carefully scrutinized independently of  its scope and direct impact. Of central importance is the idea of preventive maintenance, or what we can call "solving international problems at the root." Peace can be preserved by direct and indirect means. A direct means might be a collective security system where a group of nations rises up against an perceived aggressor. An indirect means may be the avoidance of war by improving the economic conditions of poorer countries (e.g., providing them with the resources they would otherwise be forced to take by war). No complete judgment of the success of international organization in specific issue‑areas is possible without sensitivity to all the complex effects. Sometimes, such a judgment might  be facilitated by indulging in counter‑factuals: e.g., how would this event have turned out differently without U.N. intervention? There are many issues on the world diplomatic agenda, and all of them are being influenced by international organizations. This creates both a complex and challenging array of cases for those interested in understanding international organization.

Course Outline


      A. Theoretical Traditions of International Politics
                 (Introductory Class-Jan 27)

         Art and Jervis, International Politics, pps. 2‑7 
         Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, Chapter 1 
         Hedley Bull, "Does Order Exist in World Politics"  in Art and Jervis, International Politics,
         pps.  9‑41 
         Michael Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs”Philosophy and PublicAffairs

      B. The Structure and Functions of the U.N.: Building a World Government 

         The class will watch a documentary, "The UN” The film highlights the structures and roles of the United Nations                                    

         Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations, Chapters Chapters 1,2,3           
       C. Theories of International Organization
                (Feb 3) 

         Harold Jacobson, Networks, Chapter 4
         David Mitrany, "The Functional Alternative"   in Charles Beitz and Theodore Herman, eds.,         
         Peace and War
         Robert Cox, "The Crisis of World Order and the Problem of International Organization in
         the 1980s" International Journal 35 (Spring 1980)
         Emerich de Vattel, “The Law of Nations”

   2. MANAGING GLOBAL ISSUES                              

     A. The Collective Management of International Security
                     (Feb 10)

         Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations, Chapters 5-7
         Brian Urquhart, "United Nations Peace Forces and the Changing United Nations"
         International Organization 17 (Spring 1963)
        Michael Barnett, “Bringing in the New World Order”World Politics 49 (1997)
        UNA‑USA, Issues, Chapters 4 and 5 

      B. Managing Economic Stability
                  (Feb 17)

          Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations,  Chapter 10 (not in 4th edition) 

         B.1. International Trade Relations 

              Jock Finlayson and Mark Zacher, "GATT and the Regulation of Trade Barriers"  International    
              Organization 35 (Autumn 1981)             

              John Jackson, "The Crumbling Institutions of the Liberal Trade System" Journal of World Trade Law 12,2 (1978) 

              John Jackson, “Managing the Trading System” in Kenen, ed., Managing the World Economy

             B.2. International Monetary Relations                                 

 The class will watch the documentary "One World, One Economy." The film explores  
 how the  International Monetary Fund (IMF) has attempted to promote economic growth  and stability Mexico, Poland, and Ghana. We will discuss the film in light of the following readings:

 IMF background  material
 Ismail-Sabri Abdalla, "The Inadequacy and Loss of Legitimacy of the International Monetary Fund" Development Dialogue (1980)
Cheryl Payer, "The World Bank and the Small Farmers" Journal of Peace Research 16 (1979)
Graham Bird,  “The International Monetary Fund and Developing Countries”International Organization 50 (Summer 1996)
Alan Meltzer, “What’s Wrong with the IMF? What would be Better?” The Independent Review v. 6, no. 2, Fall 1999
Kenneth Rogoff, “The IMF Strikes Back” Foreign Policy (January/February) 2003

     C. Global Hunger and Food Aid
                (February 24) 

        Raymond Hopkins, "Reform in the International Food Aid Regime: The Role of Consensual Knowledge" International Organization 46 (Winter 1992)
        Foreign Policy Association, "Farmers, Food and the Global Market" Great Decisions 1989
        Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, and David Kinley, Aid as Obstacle, Chapters 12‑17,20
        UNA‑USA, Issues, pp. 39,40 

     D. The Collective Management of Development
                 (Mar 3) 

        D.1. The Nature of Underdevelopment                     

          Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations, Chapter 11 (Chapter 10 in 4th edition)
          Ian Little, Economic Underdevelopment, Chapters 1,2
          Jagdish Bhagwati, The Economics of Underdeveloped Countries, Chapters 1‑3
          UNA-USA, Issues, Chapter 7 

         D.2. Solving the Problem Through Aid            

           Frances Moore Lappe, et. al., Aid as Obstacle, Chapters 1,3,5,9,11,18
           Melvyn Krauss, Development Without Aid, Chapter 8
           Peter Bauer and Anthony Daniels, "The Political Economy of Aid” Lloyd’s Bank Review,            October 1981
           Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Chapter Chapters 1, 2
           Marguerite Robinson,  The Microfinance Revolution, Chapter 1  

First Paper Due March 24 

                                                            Mar 24,31

        Simulated North‑South bargaining sessions in UNCTAD: instructions and background materials will be distributed before the first meeting 

     E. Confronting the Problem of International Human Rights
                      (April 7)

        Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations,  pp. 404-423
        Giulio  Gallarotti and Arik Preis: “Politics, International Justice and The United States: Toward a Permanent International Criminal Court”
        Australian Journal of International Affairs, 53 (1999) 
        UNA‑USA Issues, Chapter 3

     F. Managing the Global Commons: Preserving Our Environment
                       (April 14)

        The Earth in the Balance  UN Chronicle 34, 2 1997
        Robert Solow, “Sustainability: An Economist’s Perspective” in Robert Stavins, ed, Economics of the Environment (2000)
        Giulio Gallarotti,  It Pays to be Green: The Managerial Incentive Structure and Environmentally Sound Strategies Columbia Journal of World Business 30,4 (Winter 1995)
        Per Wijkman, "Managing the Global Commons" International Organization 36 (Summer 1982)
        Daniel Esty, “The Case for a Global Environmental Organization," Peter Kenen, ed., Managing the World Economy
        Peter Haas, Marc Levy, and Edward Parson, "Earth Summit Judging its Success" Environment 34 (October 1992)
        UNA‑USA, Issues, Chapter 2

G. Managing Global Health
            (April 21)

            Laura Gaydos and James Veney, “The Nature and Etiology of Disease” in Bruce Fried and Laura Gaydos, eds, World Health Systems, Chapter 1
            Michael Oldstone,  Viruses, Plagues and History,  Oxford University Press, 1998 Background materials on World Health Organization in your handout packets
            Ziring, Riggs and Plano, The United Nations,  pp. 347-49
            Brian Doherty, “Who Cares? The World Health Organization Cares More About Its Own Life Than the Lives of the Poor” Reasonline January 2002
             UNA‑USA, Issues, Chapter 1 

Final  Paper Due May 5 

                         (April 28, May 5)

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