Free «Emerging Issues in International Relations» Essay Sample


The reason behind our interest in international relations is that the world in which we live in is divided into different political regions, independent states, countries and nations and this has profound social, economic and political influence in our lives. The world today is composed of over 200 independent states that have to harmoniously exist and share some common interests. The role of this study in our lives can thus never be undermined. To fully come to grips with the role of this study, there is need to examine what living in states basically entails. This leads us to the five basic social values that we as human beings and our states are expected to uphold. This list includes welfare, security, justice, order and freedom.

The social values remain so fundamental in our lives that they must be adequately protected and upheld for the safety and good coexistence. The advancement in technology and demand for equality has created the chance for the emergence of new issues within the discipline of international relations. This has attracted calls for a review of some of the IR policies and a discard of others with the aim to streamlining the international relations so as to incorporate the new emerging issues.

According to Jackson and Sørensen (2007), "there are developments that remain as reminders to the fact that the world of states is dynamic, changing world and not static, unchanging one, in that in international relations, just as in other spheres of human relations; nothing stands still for a very long time". The truth of the matter is that international relations change with the every aspect of our lives. These include fundamental factors that play profound influences in our lives such as education, politics, economics, technology and culture.

Technological advancements

An examination of the advancement of technological innovations has continued to change and reshape the international relations at very significant levels. Across the decades and centuries, technological advancement reflected in the military has had significant impacts on the balance of power, led to the arms race, created the ideas of imperialism and colonialism, affected relations between countries and led to the birth of the nuclear arms race. In economics, the economic growth has led to increased budget allocations on the military budget that has created the foundation for modern military equipment and better trained military personnel.

The emergence of new issues thus demands a fundamental change in the discipline of international relations. We can no longer handle the international relations issues with the thoughts and ideas of the 20th Century. An examination of terrorism, an emerging new issue that has totally changed and reshaped our international relations demands that to effectively handle our cross border relations today, we not only need to discard some old ideas, we also need to embrace new ideas within the disciple of international relations.


The fight against terrorism has brought with it the application of well trained security personnel and stringent measures on international travel and immigration issues. This point to the fact that our social, economic and political lives have been adversely affected.

To incorporate the issue of terrorism and understand its causes and effects on our relations, the discipline of international cooperation and relations must be reviewed. Terrorism has led to the enforcement of a number of legislative issues and laws that has influenced the way we handle and relate with the neighboring states. While it is true that some fundamental principles of this discipline cannot be changed, the path here is to analyze the impacts of emerging new issues and incorporate them in our relations.

Secondly, the need to protect our homeland and critical infrastructure from hackers and spyware has led to the idea that unless we are able to freely  exist with another nation on the need to work harmoniously on the issue of cyber crime, our relations remain at its low levels. Examine the United Nations proposal that criminal in cyber crimes be extradited to countries where the crime is committed. Such proposals tilt the core principles of international relations and as such require the need for its review and change of policies.

Furthermore, the advancement in scientific discovery has led to development in the transport and information. Infrastructural development has made the world become a global village. Information sharing and communication via internet use has made easier and faster access to information among different societal as such groupings and national boundaries are more permeable.

Trade forms the major route to economic emancipation of a region. The vigor and complexity of international trade relations is generally more that it is today. The fact is that "international trade reform is no longer a hegemony of large and/or rich Northern nations controlling a limited multilateral process; the "new regionalism" coupled with unilateral liberalization and opening up at the national level in many countries places the current GATT-based system as one among several players in the international trade arena where, of course, some remain more equal than others" (Wiebe, 1996). The emerging issue in trade alone has profound effect on international relations. Within this issue, competition policies in trade have influenced our relations in the international arena. The two issues of investment and competition are significant areas in the progress of international trade. The truth is that competition policies at the multilateral level is not opportunistic. "trade and trade policies, by altering the volume and international location of global production and consumption activities, impact on the environment and our policies in that some see international trade liberalization as worsening environmental problems, while others see it as the vehicle through which incomes and awareness of the environment are both raised, thus contributing to the solution to the problem" (Kerrin and Lloyd, 1997).

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 The conflict between the two views raises our international relations to a different level as compared to the past. The rise of China as global trade hub has heightened competition levels and influenced trade policies. China currently is the second biggest economy and forecasts to become a world biggest economy by 2027.

It is evident that this has caused poor international relation with the United States; for instance, the recent diplomatic between the United States and China over the meeting between President Obama and Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Environmental trade

Environmental concerns have become a matter of concern in international relations. The discussion of environment in the context of international relations has greater impacts than the discussion on labor standards. To begin with, globalization has led to improved markets and this means more levels of production. As a result, waste production and poor work policies have led to the deteriorating environmental conditions. At the same time, international trade is a mechanism through which environmental concerns can be raised.

Environmental policies implemented in a county, if successful, can make other countries either adopt the same policies or create better policies. Due to superior policies other countries have over the others, there is a trade imbalance leading to directional flow of international trade. More so, trade imbalances determine the volume and composition. Trade imbalances under the notion of environmentalism can create restrictive policies that are bound to be abused by protectionist nations to cater for their domestic interests. This succinctly brings out the theory of realism within the discipline of international relations. Lastly, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements can lead to international cooperation that deal with international issues, one of which is environmental concerns. Ideally, the need to have sustainable economies, environmental trade policies and international relations are vital in fostering economic growth and competitiveness. Investment codes have been used in international trade and this has raised bon of contention in regard to international trade relations. Investment codes in international trade have raised dialogue creating three different scenarios (Jackson & Sørensen, 2007). First, "as WTO (1996a) points out, there has been a dramatic increase in the annual global flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), from US$ 60 billion in 1985 to US$ 315 billion in 1995, Second, the links between trade and FDI, while having always existed, are now better understood in that the general reduction in average national tariff levels has meant that there is less "tariff-jumping" occurring now than did previously (The White House, 2001).

The creation of economic trade blocs has facilitated trade between/among nations and this has led to enjoyment of economies of scale, improved mutual understanding among the member states not withstanding. Though international trade and FDI are mutually related, it is not justified to argue that WTO is the best option for the multilateralization of investment codes. Opponents of this argument suggest that not everything can be left in the hands of WTO due to the nature of international trade itself. Detractors also argue that reaching a consensus within a trade bloc is quite easier than for a multifaceted and large grouping like the WTO membership.

The role of labour

Labor standards are a really emotional issue that takes center stage when it comes to international trade and international relations. This is because many nations find themselves in comparative quagmire in regard to whether or not this is a human right issue, social clause, or is it due to the need to have labor standards. The issues that raise alarm when it comes to labor standards have been a responsibility of the ILO. This body addresses matters related to labor but the body too has not done enough to ratify its principals so as to reflect the current state of affairs arising from international perspective. Only one principal out of the five has been ratified in the recent time to reflect the needs of modern labor relations, for instance, discrimination in employment, prohibition against child labor, among others. This move is seen as a mechanism to link trade and labor standard especially through WTO in the front of solving morality issues, curbing employment problems, improving international trade relations via non-economic means, and due to ILO's weakness in enforcing legislations.


Trade in services is another thorny emerging issue in international relation. There are salient facts that significantly affect trade in services. First, the liberalization which is aimed at removing institutional and regulatory huddles so as to set fair grounds for trade remain a thorny topic whose answer is yet to be found. The creation of the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services), as the multilateral arrangement that governs the trade in service was an achievement. However, this multilateral trade arrangement is strongly influenced by differences and diversity of each state's national interest. These national interests have a greater impact in international relations.

This trade in service issue therefore requires a closer analysis to merge the diversity of national interests to create harmony in trade activities. In this line, negotiations are continuously held so as to create rules that not only meant to govern the service of trade but also improve international relations. When trade in services is improved and legislations and law are created to govern it, it is important to point out that it forms the best ground in achieving economic growth across the globe. In this regard, all the countries should be strategically prepared to benefit from service trade arrangement. In this line, it will be prudent that each country put the required infrastructural developments which facilitate service trade. Power energy, Internet and computer literacy features prominently in the success of this form of trade. However, the challenges are immense; the pursuit of parity in the service trade has got enormous benefits for the development of whole world. This will create a platform of good international relations which is necessary for peace across the regions.

Piracy in seas and oceans

Piracy is critical emerging issue in international trade. This act poses a big problem to trade in oceans and seas which serves nearly every country across the globe. There has been a thorny debate touching on the best way to curb and eradicate piracy. In this regard different countries have conflicting approaches to this global problem.

The shipping industry suffers a great deal due to high cost of insurance involved and the risk of shipping goods to different parts of world. According to Anderson (1997), "The global shipping industry is most concerned about vessels that carry oil, chemicals, coal, iron ore, wheat and other commodities, because these vessels tend to be more vulnerable to pirate attacks than container vessels that carry manufactured goods because container vessels are considered more difficult to seize by pirates because they ride higher in the water and are more difficult to board and seize from a small boat"  To curb this problem, countries need to come together in the fight against piracy. In the context of realism and the international trade, piracy has played a fundamental role in pushing major nations to define their relations with failed states or states that surround these failed states. It remains a very fundamental issue in the analysis of this discipline because of its ability to affect our core trade routes.

Laws and legislations need to be put in place to fight this vice regardless of some countries' national vested interests. This issue therefore point to the fact that this discipline be enlarged to incorporate the aspects of international law. International relations and trade are negatively affected by piracy therefore quick remedy should be sought. In areas where diplomacy does not bear fruit, like the case of pirates, military interventions are always the best approaches.


The above discussions point to the fact the discipline of international relation has come under extreme influence from a number of factors that cannot be simply wished away. The list of emerging issues is too long that this research paper may not fully contain it and exhaustively offer a full discussion on it. From advancement of technology, increase in education and literacy levels, demand for improved social life, terrorism, environmental challenges, shifting trade imbalances, piracy and a number of emerging issues all push as to look at an old discipline in a modern way. The best approach is to incorporate the new emerging issues within this discipline so that they are adequately addressed to achieve the best in I.R. This calls for fundamental changes within this discipline and a discard of some established ways of thinking and approaches.


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