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The Institutionalist Paradigm
(Liberal Institutionalism)
The Institutional Foundation of
International Politics
Similarities and Differences with the
Realist Paradigm
• Units: States (rational, unitary)
• System Structure
– Anarchy
– Distribution of Capabilities
– But also the Importance of Institutions
What Is an Institution?
• Persistent and connected sets of rules (formal
or informal) that indicate the appropriate
behavior for designated actors and, in some
cases, create actors
Why Institutions Matter
• Institutions as Instruments of States
• Institutions as the Foundation of the
International State System
– States as the creation of institutions
Why Bring in Institutions:
Puzzles for Realism
• Too Little War
– Persistence of Weak States (Table 13)
– Stability of State Boundaries: Africa, 1914, 1930, and
• Too Much War and Conflict
– Efforts to Defend Insignificant Pieces of Territory
Falklands/Malvinas (1982)
Perejil (2002)
– Struggles over Representation in International Bodies
Taiwan and the UN
Clue: How States Come Into Existence
• Effective Control by a Government over
Territory and Population
• Diplomatic Recognition by Existing States
E.g., Former Yugoslavia (map)
• Examples
– Peaceful/uncontested: USSR
– Violent/contested
• Croatia and Kosovo
• Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Constitutional Principles of the
Interstate System (UN Charter)
• Respect for Political Independence and
Territorial Integrity (Art. 2(4))
• Sovereign (Juridical) Equality (Art. 2(1))
• Non-Interference in Internal Affairs (Art 2(7))
Basic Rules of Interstate Relations:
Rules of Diplomacy
• Diplomatic Accreditation and Immunity
EX: Iran Hostage Crisis, 1979-81
• Extraterritoriality
EX: Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, 1990
• Confidential Communications
EX: Diplomatic pouch
Basic Rules of Interstate Relations
• Rules of Agreement Making: Pacta Sunt
– "Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to
it and must be performed by them in good faith.“
• Rules of War (Chapter VII)