Theories of International Organization

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 3
Words: 591
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: School


The international organization is viewed from a number of perspectives according to the different international relations theorists. The theorists include realists, neo-functionalist and regime theorists. The formation and governance of international organizations have presented a challenge globally. There are a few theories that attempt to explain and give a clear outline with regard to international organizations. This essay will discuss the theories of international organizations which are realism and liberalism theories. The aim is to identify the assumption behind the theories as well as discuss their strengths and weaknesses.

Realist theory

The realism theory presents an international relations approach that is based on the belief that international politics revolve around power (Jentleson 137). According to this theory, international politics are about the acquisition and exercise of power over other nations as opposed to cooperation. Realists believe that international organizations are platforms where states exercise power over other weaker member states citing that the organization lacks autonomous powers. International organizations can actually be used to show a reflection of the distribution of power amongst states. This is a strategy used to separate the first and the third-class worlds. According to realists, international organizations cannot fulfill the hopes that have been placed on them to promote fairness in the looming global inequality (Jentleson 137).

Liberalist theory

Just like the realist, liberals’ approaches to international relations are also varied and depend on a number of factors. However, their theory is bent on the belief that international relations go beyond the maximization of power, wealth, and security (Jentleson 143). This theory states that the nations can unite and employ cooperation although such relationships have failed before. Liberals believe that the distribution of power in the international system has minimum effect on international relations (Jentleson 144). This is in contrast with the realist theory. Multilateralism was developed after the first world and was influenced by classical liberalism. The readings present a liberalist perspective especially in view of Gorge Bush’s administration.

Strengths and weaknesses of the two theories

Although the realist theory attempts to explain and give insights on how international organizations are being handled, the theory has been criticized for failing to give an explanation with regard to the recent global events. The theory is based on the notion of survival which is one of its greatest strengths. A practical example is the North Korean case where the country is developing nuclear weapons to protect itself from threats deemed by the American government. The liberal theory on the other hand is a utopian view of a world where states can compete for power and resources in a peaceful way. This supports the notion of a democratic peace theory which eludes war at all cost. While liberals argue that democratic states avoid a war that leads to self-destruction, they cannot explain the events that led to the first world war that involved the world’s greatest democracies.


In my opinion, international organizations are indeed platforms for exercising power over other nations. I believe that powerful nations are using this platform to exercise their power and interfere with other states. The pursuit of wealth and resources is a major motivation guided by international organizations. The war that led to the destruction of Iran and Iraq are two major drawbacks of the liberalism theory which argues that international organizations can foster peace. This paper has clearly shown the perspectives presented in the readings with regard to international organisations theories. The two major theories have been discussed and their assumption are critically examined to establish their strengths and weaknesses.

Works Cited

Jentleson, Bruce. “The John Holmes Memorial Lecture: Global Governance in a Copernican World.” Global Governance 18.1 (2012): 133–148. Print.