International Institutions in World Politics Course Description

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1Political Science 242 Professor Martha Finnemore

Fall 2010 Monroe Hall 472

Wednesdays 5:10-7:00, Monroe 351 202-994-8617

office hours: MW 2:15-3:30

or by appointment
International Institutions in World Politics
Course Description
This course explores the role international institutions play in world politics. We begin by examining several contending perspectives on the importance and impact of international institutions. The course then examines the historical development, activities, and performance of specific institutions in the major policy areas of security, trade, finance, economic development, the environment, human rights, and humanitarian assistance. The central questions we will ask about these institutions are: why were they created, and by whom? What roles were they originally expected to play in world politics, and if those roles changed over time, how and why? What contributions have these institutions made in their particular policy areas; and what factors shape the depth, scope, and effectiveness of these contributions.
Course Requirements

Grading is based on four components:

1) Class participation and discussion questions (15%). This is a seminar, not a lecture course, so your contribution is important. Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the week’s readings. Your participation grade is based on:

a) active participation in class discussion, and

b) three discussion questions based on the week’s readings submitted to me the morning of class each week. The purpose of these is to show me you have thought about the reading and to help me steer class discussion. Questions should be emailed to me by 12:00 noon on the day of the class.
2) IOs at a glance paper and presentation (25%). Each student will be responsible for preparing and sharing a five page analytic essay on a specific international organization once during the semester. Students will sign up for their papers at the first meeting of the class. These should not be summaries of formal organizational details of the IO. Rather, essays should address very fundamental questions about the IO:

(a) Who created it, when, and why? Does it still do what it was designed to do? How has it changed and why?

(b) What tools of influence does the IO have? Why does anyone pay attention to it?

(c) What are major limitations on its effectiveness?

(d) What are the hot issues on its agenda at the moment?

You are responsible for posting your paper to the class via the Blackboard system by 5pm the day before class. All students are responsible for reading the “at a glance” papers posted by their colleagues before coming to class. Remember, these essays should give us highlights of the IO “at a glance.” Five pages, double spaced, is the maximum length using regular 12 point font. This means essays must be concise, well-organized and, of course, engaging.

In addition, on the week we discuss your organization (the day after the paper is due) you will give a 5 minute presentation on the organization to the class. Presentations should be designed to get us thinking and talking about issues you discovered in writing your paper. Presentations should not simply repeat the contents of the paper. Instead, use the paper as a springboard and elaborate on it in your oral comments. What’s interesting, irritating, laudable, or just plain weird about this organization that would be fun to discuss? Intrigue us. Engage us. Get the conversation started.

Both the paper and the presentation will be considered in the grade for this assignment.

3) Policy paper of 12-15 pages (50%). The goal of your paper is to identify some problem in world politics and design (or reform) an international institution to solve or reduce it. Your design may be either for a new organization in an area of world politics in which none has existed previously, or you may propose significant changes to or replacements for existing organizational structures. In all cases your paper must:

a) present clear analysis of the political problem to be addressed, identifying causes of the problem and clearly connecting those with your proposed solution;

b) describe the organization that will address that problem, including its decision-making structure, authority, and resources;

c) explain why this particular organizational design (or reform) is the right one for this problem, both technically and politically; and

d) discuss the political and technical obstacles to your proposal. Why will relevant actors agree to your proposal and will it actually perform as you expect?
These last three tasks are particularly important. Good policy making involves devising plans to make things better. Describe why your recommendation for institutional change is the right one to address the problem both technically and politically.

Good papers will be well-informed and clearly argued. This is an exercise in critical thinking and problem-solving. Students will be evaluated on how clearly they have thought through the logic of their chosen problem and whether their proposed solution plausibly remedies or at least ameliorates the problem

Papers should be written in clear, correct prose. If you have writing difficulties, be sure you draft your paper early enough that you can seek help from the Writing Center or a friend to clean up structure, grammar, and mechanical problems before turning in a final draft.

All sources must be properly cited in one consistent format. Proper formats for footnotes or endnotes and bibliography are discussed in The Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Handbook, and Kate L. Turabian, Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

All papers must be submitted with a coversheet stating the following and signed by you: “I understand the GW Code of Academic Integrity and have completed this paper according to its guidelines. The work herein is mine alone.” More information about GW’s Code of Academic Integrity can be found at: Failure to comply with the code will be heavily penalized.

Paper topics must be approved by the professor. Each student must discuss her or his paper topic with the professor and receive approval by October 27.

You will write two drafts of the paper. The first draft is due November 10. On that day bring three copies of the draft paper to class. One copy will go to the professor, and two copies to other classmates. At that time you will receive the first draft papers of two classmates’ papers on which you will provide comments. (See below.) After receiving feedback on your paper, you have until the last meeting of class, December 8, to revise your paper. The final paper will be due at the last meeting of the class. All papers must be double-spaced and include appropriately formatted notes and bibliography.
4) critical commentary on classmates’ drafts (10%). You are responsible for writing 1-2 pages of typed comments on each of the two draft papers you receive from classmates. These comments should be designed to provide constructive guidance for colleagues for improving their work. You will receive these drafts on November 10, the same dates your own draft is due. Bring your comments the following week, on November 17. Bring two copies of each set of comments to class that week; one for the professor, and one for the author. You, in turn, will receive two sets of comments on your own paper to help in your own revisions.

All of the articles assigned in this course are available on-line and can be downloaded either from the “files” section of Blackboard or from the Gelman’s databases, as noted on the syllabus. Use Gelman’s e-journal finder to journal articles not posted in Blackboard.

In addition, substantial portions of the following books are required reading and can be purchased in the university bookstore or at your favorite online bookseller:
Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: a debate. New York: Norton.

Virginia Haufler, A Public Role for the Private Sector Washington, DC, Carnegie Endowment, 2001.
In addition, all students are expected to keep informed about current events. Daily reading of a major newspaper (New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, or similar) is required. Two good blogs to follow are David Bosco’s “The Multilateralist” ( and Colum Lynch’s “Turtle Bay” which focuses more specifically on UN-related issues ( Many classes will begin with a discussion of recent news events concerning international organizations.
Please note: It is the student's responsibility to be informed of any changes in reading requirements, to obtain notes from missed classes from other students, and to obtain all relevant handouts from the professor. In addition, deadlines will be not waived without a written doctor's excuse. As usual, all graded work products and assignments are to be completed in conformance with The George Washington University Code of Academic Integrity.
Learning Objectives. As a result of completing this course, students should be able to:

1. Identify and explain the functioning of key international organizations.

2. Evaluate and discuss critically the role of key international organizations in shaping international political outcomes.

3. Design reforms to existing organizations that will help solve identified problems.

4. Research and write competently at the graduate level.
Course Schedule

9/1 Introduction and overview of the course


      • “What a way to run the world” and “Who Runs the World? Wrestling for Influence.” The Economist July 5, 2008, pp. 13 and 33-36. Blackboard.

      • Stewart Patrick, “Prix Fixe and a la Carte: Avoiding False Multilateral Choices” Washington Quarterly 32:4 (October 2009): 77-95. In Blackboard.

9/8 Conceptual Tools: Theorizing IOs


  • John Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions” International Security winter 1994/95. Read pp.5-14 only. JStor and Blackboard.

  • Kenneth Abbot and Duncan Snidal, “Why States Act through Formal Organizations.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 42 (1998): 3-32. JStor and Blackboard.

  • Daniel Nielson and Michael Tierney, “Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform” International Organization 57 (Spring 2003): Read pp.241-253 only. Blackboard.

  • Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders chapter 1.

  • Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Rules for the World chapter 2. Blackboard.

Backround reading (optional): Basics in International Relations Theory

  • Stephen M. Walt, “International Relations: One World, Many Theories” Foreign Policy 110 (spring 1998) 29-45. Academic Search Premier.

9/15 Multilateralism, legitimacy, accountability


  • Stuart Patrick, “Multilateralism and its Discontents” in Patrick and Foreman, eds., Multilateralism and US Foreign Policy Boulder, CO: Lynn Reinner, 2002, pp.1-44. Blackboard.

  • Charles Krauthammer, “The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the new American Unilateralism” Weekly Standard June 4, 2001. Blackboard.

  • Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment Revisited” National Interest winter 2002/03. Blackboard.

  • John van Oudenaran, “What is ‘multilateral’?”Policy Review Feb/Mar 2003: 33-47. Academic Search Premier.

  • David Davenport, “The New Diplomacy” Policy Review, no. 116. Dec. 2002. Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

9/22 The United Nations and UN Reform

IOs at a glance: General Assembly, Security Council, ECOSOC



  • Ruben Mendez, “Financing the United Nations and the International Public Sector: Problems and Reform” Global Governance 3,3(Sept-Dec 1997):283-310. Blackboard.

  • John Bolton, “The Key to Changing the United Nations System” in Brett D. Schaefer, ed., ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009, xiii-xxviii. Blackboard

  • Ian Johnstone, “The role of the Secretary General: the power of persuasion based on law” Global Governance 9,4 (2003). Academic Search Premier.

  • Ian Hurd, “Myths of Membership: The Politics of Legitimation in UN Security Council Reform.” Global Governance 14(2008): 199-217. Blackboard.

League of Democracies?

  • Thomas Carothers, “A League of their Own” Foreign Policy July/August 2008. Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

  • G. John Ikenberry, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Robert Kagen, “A Major League Debate” Foreign Policy Sept/October 2008. Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

Background (optional): UN Basics

  • Paul Taylor and Devon Curtis, ‘The United Nations” in John Baylis and Steve Smith, eds., The Globalization of World Politics, 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2005. Blackboard.

9/29 Interventions, Peacekeeping, and Nationbuilding.

IOs at a glance: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations


  • “The Failed State Index 2010” Foreign Policy and at Brief accompanying discussion is here:


  • Stewart Patrick, “’Failed’ States and Global Security: Empirical Questions and Policy Dilemmas.” International Studies Review 9(2007):644-662. Blackboard.

  • Pierre Englebert and Denis M. Tull, “Postconflict Reconstruction in Africa: Flawed Assumptions about Failed States.” International Security 32(spring 2008):106-139. Academic Search Premier.

  • Michael Lipson, “Peacekeeping: Organized Hypocrisy?” European Journal of International Relations 13(2007): 5-34. Blackboard.

  • Michael Cohen, Maria Figueroa Kupcu, Prag Khanna, “The New Colonialists” Foreign Policy July/Aug 2008. Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

  • Edward Luttwak, “Give war a chance” Foreign Affairs July/August 1999. Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

10/6 Alliances and regional security organizations

IOs at a glance: NATO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN

  • Steve Weber, “Shaping the Postwar Balance of Power: multilateralism in NATO” International Organization 46(summer 1992): 633-680. In JStor and Blackboard.

  • James Goldgeier, “The Future of NATO.” Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 2010. Blackboard.

  • Charles Kupchan, “NATO’s Final Frontier” Foreign Affairs May/June 2010. In Academic Search Premier.

  • Christopher Hemmer and Peter J. Katzenstein, “Why is there no NATO in Asia? Identity, Regionalism, and the Origins of Multilateralism.” International Organization 56, 3(summer 2002). Ebscohost Business Source Premier.

  • Gregory Gleason and Marat Shaihutdinov, “Collective Security and Non-state Actors in Eurasia” International Studies Perspectives 6(2005): 274-284. Blackwell Synergy via Aladin.

10/13 NPT, WMD, & terrorism

IOs at a glance: NPT, IAEA

  • Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A debate. (New York: Norton, 1995). Entire.

  • David Albright, Paul Brannan, Andrea Scheel Strickler, “Detecting and Disrupting Illicit Nuclear Trade After AQ Khan” The Washington Quarterly 33,2(April 2010): 85-106. Blackboard.

  • Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, “Combating Terrorism” The Washington Quarterly 26,4 (autumn 2003): 163-76. Academic Search Premier. Blackboard.

Debate over “Nuclear Zero”

  • Remarks by the President in Prague, April 5, 2009 at

  • Bruno Tertrais, “The Illogic of Zero.” The Washington Quarterly 33,2 (April 2010): 125-38. Blackboard.

10/20 Money and The International Monetary Fund
IOs at a glance: IMF




  • Ngaire Woods, “Global Governance after the Financial Crisis: A New Multilateralism or the Last Gasp of the Great Powers?” Global Policy 1,1(Jan.2010). Blackboard.

  • Ngaire Woods and Domenio Lombardi, “Uneven Patterns of Governance: How Developing Countries are Represented in the IMF.” Review of International Political Economy 13 (Aug. 2006): 480-515. Blackboard.

  • Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, “The Future of the Euro?” Foreign Affairs. August 2010. Blackboard.

10/27 Development and the World Bank

IOs at a glance: World Bank


  • Catherine Weaver and Ralf J. Leiteritz “Our Poverty Is a World Full of Dreams:” Reforming the World Bank Global Governance 11 (2005), 369–388

  • Nancy Birdsall, Dani Rodrik, Arvind Subramanian, “How to Help Poor Countries” Foreign Affairs July/Aug 2005. Academic Search Premier.

  • Michael Cohen, Maria Figueroa Kupcu, Parag Khanna, “The New Colonialists” Foreign Policy July/Aug 2006. Blackboard.

  • Sebastian Mallaby, “Saving the World Bank” Foreign Affairs May/June 2005. Blackboard.

  • William Easterly, “The Ideology of Develoment” Foreign Policy July/Aug 2007. Blackboard.

11/3 Trade and the WTO

IOs at a glance: WTO


  • Meredith Crowley, “An Introduction to the WTO and GATT” Economic Perspectives 4th quarter, 2003. Blackboard.

  • Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian, “Multilateralism Beyond Doha.” Peterson Institute Working Paper, October 2008. Blackboard.

  • Susan Sell and Aseem Prakash, “Using Ideas Strategically: The Contest between Business and NGO Networks in Intellectual Property Rights” International Studies Quarterly 48,1(March 2004). Academic Search Premier and Blackboard.

Doha updates:

  • Paul Blustein, “Doha Trade Talks Collapse: What’s Next for Global Trade?” Aug. 20, 2008 at:

  • Dani Rodrik, “Don’t Cry for Doha” The Guardian Aug. 20, 2008, at

  • Marc Levinson, ´The Vanishing WTO”, Council on Foreign Relations, December 4, 2009.

  • Paul Blustein, “RIP, WTO.” Foreign Policy Jan. 2010. Blackboard.

11/10 Global Governance and the Private Sector

IOs at a glance: The Global Compact

  • Haufler, Virginia, A Public Role for the Private Sector. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 2001. Entire.

  • Virginia Haufler, Corporations in zones of conflict : issues, actors, and institutions. In Avant, Finnemore, Sell (eds) Who Governs the Globe ? Cambridge, 2010, 102-130. Blackboard.

  • Deborah Avant, The Privatization of Security and Change in the Control of Force. International Studies Perspectives (2004) 5, 153-7. Blackboard.

11/17 Social and Humanitarian issues

IOs at a glance: UNHCR, ICRC.

  • Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders, chapter 1 (review), plus chapters 3 and 5.

  • Alexander Cooley and James Ron, “The NGO Scramble” International Security summer 2002.

  • R. Charli Carpenter, “Women and Children First: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans, 1991-95" International Organization (autumn 2003.)

  • Michael Barnett, “Humanitarianism Transformed” Perspectives on Politics December 2005, 723-40. Blackboard.

11/24 Thanksgiving. No Class.

12/1 Environment and Health

IOs at a glance: UNEP, Kyoto Treaty, WHO

  • Frank Biermann, “The Case for a World Environment Organization”Environment 42, 9 (Nov 2000):22-31. Academic Search Premier.

  • Adil Najam, “The Case Against a New International Environmental Organization” Global Governance 9(2003):367-84. Academic Search Premier.

  • Scott Barrett and Michael Toman, “Contrasting Future Paths for an Evolving Global Climate Regime.” Global Policy 1,1 (Jan. 2010). Blackboard

  • Foreign Affairs July/Aug 2005 issue on “The Next Pandemic”, pp.1-64 (articles by Garrett, Osterholm, Karesh & Cook, and Garrett (on HIV/AIDS). Academic Search Premier.

12/8 The European Union

IOs at a glance: European Union


  • Anthony Luzzatto Gardner and Stuart E Eizenstat, “New Treaty, New Influence” Foreign Affairs Mar/April 2010. Blackboard.

  • Wayne Sandholtz and Alex Stone-Sweet, “Neofunctionalism and Supranational Governance.” Blackboard.

  • Glyn Morgan, The idea of a European Superstate, pp.1-23. Blackboard.

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