Introduction to International Relations Essay

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We have learned that the current international political system was created in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia Treaty. Countries today live with two crucial aspects of that system:

1. The international system reflects the core values of the European states that created it.

2. The system is designed to avoid fundamental debates over values. Just as the choice of state religions was left to the state rulers in 1648, the current system leaves (or tries to leave) value questions to individual states.

But, as we have seen (or will see as you do the readings), the world has changed since 1648. The international system now covers the whole world and encompasses nations of varied cultures and values. And those fundamental values (human rights, religion, etc.) have become more and more important.

So, do we face a choice? Do we try to get all states to adopt similar values and drop discussions of fundamental issues? Or, do we create a new international system, one that reflects the changed world? What do you think?

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