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Towards a Framework of Alignment in International Relations

Towards a Framework of Alignment in International Relations Traditional theoretical frames of reference are challenged to account convincingly for new inter-state formations at the political level that fall outside the security lexicon. While it is clear that not all inter-state partnerships can be deemed alliances/coalitions, there is neither a model nor a framework of study put forward for those partnerships and arrangements that do not meet the criteria of security co-operation. The success of Alliance Theory in International Relations from mainly rationalist perspectives blurs the fact that it is one, although dominant, sub-set within a broader, generic concept of alignment. Formal strategic partnerships at the mini-lateral level that do not have as their primary property or motivator a security characteristic in the traditional (military) sense, such as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Forum and potentially the Columbia-Indonesia-Vietnam-Egypt-Turkey-South Africa (CIVETS), in the event that it becomes a fully-fledged diplomatic and political initiative, do not fit comfortably in a securitized International Relations discipline. Nor do other types of partnerships such as the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), the G20 or arrangements such as Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Studies of these instances of co-operation are conducted in the absence of a context and without terms of reference. This article makes a contribution towards the development of an overarching framework of ‘alignment’ to provide a context under which various co-operation theories exist. It is argued that the concept of alignment can be fully recovered to its rightful place as an umbrella concept over and above its different forms, if reference to a security characteristic/property as a necessary element is removed. ‘Alignment’ is a value-neutral concept that neither infers nor connotes any particular content to an inter-state relationship. This is a necessary theoretical step so that the proliferation of new, non-traditional instances of international co-operation in the twenty-first century can be assessed within a substantive context that gives both structure and terms of reference for analysis. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies Taylor & Francis

Towards a Framework of Alignment in International Relations

17 pages

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References (37)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2014 South African Association of Political Studies
ISSN
1470-1014
eISSN
0258-9346
DOI
10.1080/02589346.2014.885682
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Traditional theoretical frames of reference are challenged to account convincingly for new inter-state formations at the political level that fall outside the security lexicon. While it is clear that not all inter-state partnerships can be deemed alliances/coalitions, there is neither a model nor a framework of study put forward for those partnerships and arrangements that do not meet the criteria of security co-operation. The success of Alliance Theory in International Relations from mainly rationalist perspectives blurs the fact that it is one, although dominant, sub-set within a broader, generic concept of alignment. Formal strategic partnerships at the mini-lateral level that do not have as their primary property or motivator a security characteristic in the traditional (military) sense, such as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) Forum and potentially the Columbia-Indonesia-Vietnam-Egypt-Turkey-South Africa (CIVETS), in the event that it becomes a fully-fledged diplomatic and political initiative, do not fit comfortably in a securitized International Relations discipline. Nor do other types of partnerships such as the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP), the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), the G20 or arrangements such as Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Studies of these instances of co-operation are conducted in the absence of a context and without terms of reference. This article makes a contribution towards the development of an overarching framework of ‘alignment’ to provide a context under which various co-operation theories exist. It is argued that the concept of alignment can be fully recovered to its rightful place as an umbrella concept over and above its different forms, if reference to a security characteristic/property as a necessary element is removed. ‘Alignment’ is a value-neutral concept that neither infers nor connotes any particular content to an inter-state relationship. This is a necessary theoretical step so that the proliferation of new, non-traditional instances of international co-operation in the twenty-first century can be assessed within a substantive context that gives both structure and terms of reference for analysis.

Journal

Politikon: South African Journal of Political StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: Jan 2, 2014

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