Monday 12 April 2021
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Implications of carrot and stick diplomacy on intergovernmental governance systems

Media houses have recently reported that Madam Nikki Haley, Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Nations (UN) has warned that the United States would take names of UN member states who did not vote with the United States on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Media reports further noted that the US intends to cut funding to countries who are likely to vote against the US at the United Nations.
The purpose of this article is to contextualize and locate the pronouncements, including the threats, and to analyze the implications thereof on intergovernmental governance systems.
The expression “carrot and stick diplomacy” in the heading refers to the notion of “reward and punish” in interstate relations.
It is critical at the onset to explain the underlying principles of the main theories of international relations as lenses through which to describe, explain and understand the threats.
This is in view that theories are important in detecting and establishing casual factors for describing, explaining and understanding international phenomena.
Theories also help us to make sense out of the hidden meanings of international phenomena and their policy implications.
As many might be aware, three main theories dominate international relations namely, realism, liberalism and structuralism. The basic belief system of realism theory is the underlying assumption that self-interest, and not the common good or human security, informs actions and behaviour of states in international relations.
The other underpinning is an anarchical global world order characterized by interstate struggles for survival, hence the pursuit of power to guarantee national security and strategic interests.
Military power capability is therefore, the assumed guarantor of survival.
The liberalism theory, although agreeing with an anarchical global world order, highlights interstate cooperation on issues of mutual interests instead of confrontation.
Liberals advance that moral values and principles play critical roles in international relations, hence the belief that other actors in addition to state actors shape, influence and direct international relations.
The underlying tenets are mutual interdependence and a peaceful and stable world.
The structuralism view argues that the economic structure of the world system is critical for our understanding of international relations, hence the view that conflict is a norm than an exception due to conflicting economic and strategic interests of states.
Briefly, economic power and class relations influence state relations in favour of the economically strong.
We should therefore, describe, interpret and understand the threats of the Ambassador of the US to the UN should against the background of the realists’ theory.
It is also consistent with the campaign promise and continued actions of President Donald Trump of “Make America Great Again, and America First.”
For analysts and students of international relations, the threats are not a surprise.
Realist theory informs the diplomacy policies and practices of the US.
The September 11 statement of President George W Bush of: “You are either with us or against us”, amplifies consistent US foreign policy based on the carrot and stick diplomacy.
The applications by the different administrations has only been to what extent.
It is either moderate or conservative to the extreme right.
The implications of the carrot and stick diplomacy, is the undermining of global intergovernmental governance systems such as the UN, created to maintain international peace and security, friendly relations among nations of the world, and jointly addressing global challenges facing humanity.
Intergovernmental governance systems presupposes joint global policy formulation and actions, and consensus building.
Secondly, a state cannot claim to be the torchbearer of democratic values and principles, including freedom of speech and expression, freedom of thought and conscious, and yet punishes others when expressing their divergent views and opinions on issues.
The lesson that Namibia and other ought to learn is that states cannot afford to outsource their obligations of guaranteeing human development and the welfare of their citizenry to other nations.
We cannot depend on other states to fund our developmental programmes.
This is in view that international relations is dynamic and fluid, and hence the widely accepted notion that states do not have permanent friends in interstate interactions, but rather permanent interests.

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