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Why do states choose certain normative strategies over others in world politics? Interrogating theories of normative state agency in International Relations.
Unformatted Document Text:  For International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention 2006, San Diego, CA, 22-25 March 2006. Why do states choose certain normative strategies over others in world politics? 1 Interrogating theories of normative state agency in International Relations. Marjo Koivisto Department of International Relations, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK

Authors: Koivisto, Marjo.
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For International Studies Association (ISA) Annual Convention 2006,
San Diego, CA, 22-25 March 2006.

Why do states choose certain normative strategies
over others in world politics?
Interrogating theories
of normative state agency in International Relations.

Marjo Koivisto
Department of International Relations,
London School of Economics,
Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK


Draft paper – please do not cite without the author’s permission.


Introduction
Since the end of the Cold War, International Relations (IR) theorists have been
increasingly interested in the issue of ethical foreign policy. Since the early 1990s,
many more states have adopted liberal international norms, bringing about hopes
(among both practitioners and academics of international politics) for a more co-
operative, perhaps liberal international order. Simultaneously, an uncertainty has
persisted over the extent to which particularly the United States is interested in
practicing liberal multilateralism that co-insides with international law and the UN
system norms. The 9/11 attack by Al Queda and the subsequent US-led ‘War on
Terror’ have brought the issue to the fore. The key question for scholarship on ethical
foreign policy now is whether multilateral norms associated with international law
and the UN system actually provide for the only kind of legitimate normative
justifications for international state acts (beyond those in self defence) in
contemporary international politics.

This recent contestation has, for its part, called to question the analytical strength of
the theoretical frameworks based on which IR theorists are able to evaluate and judge
morally justified international state acts.
Most importantly, in the face of the recent
events, it appears as if IR theory is devoid of sufficient explanations for why shifts
away from multilateral, UN-associated ethical foreign policy happen. In an attempt to
1
This paper represents a first attempt in answering the question ‘Why do states choose certain
normative strategies over others in world politics?’, around which a PhD research project on normative
state agency in International Relations is constructed.
2
These acts are ones that by definition do not find a self-evident defence in existing international law,
but rely on other claims to legitimacy. As such, in addition to being referred to as ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’
acts, they are also well characterised as normative acts – acts with an emergent normative international
agenda.
1


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