This paper begins by outlining the definitions and what exactly is meant by international relations. Secondly, it tells the story of how and why the study of international relations emerged when it did, during the course of modern history. Even though, the history and the origins of this discipline alone does not reveal everything we need to know about how international relations functions in this day and age, it certainly would help us to understand the legacy left behind by this study’s original purpose, international gains and calamities, and by its traditional schools of thought; explanations starting from the time of the Great Powers, to the French Revolution, the first of the alliances, the Industrial revolution, the two World Wars along with the consequent Cold War, the formed international organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, and finally, to where international relations stands today. The final outcome of this paper is to create a detailed understanding on the readers mind on how international relations developed into what it at present is - a science, or rather a field of study - during the course of the modern history, starting from the 16th century.
WHAT IS INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS?
International relations is a field of study that seeks to understand a variety of global issues, foreign affairs and the interactions of nations and states within the international system. International relations draw upon its expertise from a variety of other fields such as social science, including geography, history, sociology, political science, economics, law, etc... It is therefore a challenging field to master due to its both diverse and complex nature. Strictly defined, the field of International Relations (IR) concerns the relationships among the world’s governments. However, these so called world’s governments or in other words nation states, alone cannot regulate the events taking place in international arena. They in fact are connected or rather influenced by other actors, namely, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) along with other social structures such as economics, cultural differences and ideology. Furthermore, the study of international relations has always been heavily influenced by normative considerations, such as the goal of reducing armed conflict and increasing international cooperation. International relations are an exceptionally important aspect of citizenship in a global society. As our world becomes smaller and smaller through communication technology, speedy air transportation and a complex international economy and interactions, the value of peaceful and cooperative relationships between nations is increasingly important.
The concept of international relations on some level is probably quite old, given that humans have been establishing governments and communicating with each other for thousands of years. Aspects of international relations have been studied for thousands of years, since the time of Thucydides, but IR became a separate and definable discipline in the early 20th century. However, many people agree that international relations truly began to emerge around the 15th century – the dawn of the modern era - when people started exploring the world and interacting with other governments and cultures.
THE TREATY OF WESTPHALIA (1648)
The modern international system is often dated from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which established the principles of independent, sovereign stated that continue to shape the international system today. Many even consider this treaty, also knows as the Peace of Westphalia as the birth of international relations as a field of study. The Treaty of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 in Osnabruck and Munster, Germany. These...
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