Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Approaches to Analysis of Interstate Cooperation

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Alexander Rozanov, Maria Ivanchenko, Alexandra Baranova, Elena N. Antonova, Mikhail Smirnov, Olga Belyaeva, Maria Ilicheva, Ludmila Ilicheva, Maria Krotovskaya, Tatiana Grabovich, Zaru Utekova, Dmitry Medvedev, Natalya Ogneva, Furat Al-Mutairi, Elvira Shishlo, Amina Surpkelova, Irina Kopachevskaya, Irina Sokurova, Yulia Borisova, Fernando Joao, Artyom Pakulskikh, Polina Chernova, Alexandra Khramova, Oksana Gryuk, Jesus Yaniz Gonzalez, Valentina Komleva, Alina Papsheva and Arkadi Bessonov

Submitted: 10 September 2019 Reviewed: 11 September 2020 Published: 21 October 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.93986

From the Edited Volume

Education, Human Rights and Peace in Sustainable Development

Edited by Maigul Nugmanova, Heimo Mikkola, Alexander Rozanov and Valentina Komleva

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At the present day cultural diplomacy plays a rather important role in the development of international relations and world politics. This concept is receiving increasing attention from various countries, international and non-governmental organizations and other actors. This trend exists due to a number of reasons, such as the desire of states to create a positive image of their country, the expansion of international cooperation, changes in the global and domestic political situation, the protection of national interests, the prevention of conflicts between states, etc. Cultural diplomacy, beyond historical precedents, consists of a relatively new practice of a country’s foreign policy, which has traditionally focused on trade and security and defense issues. It is true that in European countries there are institutions of cultural foreign relations since the beginning of the century, but in the last decade the issues, related to the projection of the international image of countries, have become more important.


  • cultural diplomacy
  • soft power
  • peace

1. Introduction

Currently, in the international system, cooperation as a form of interstate relations is implemented more often than conflict. However, their practical aspects have been little conceptualized in international relations, especially in the context of the fact that these forms are categories of dialectics. In this regard, in order to determine the role of inter-state cooperation in international relations, it is necessary to correlate cooperation with its paired category.

D. Shevchuk notes that “conflicts and cooperation are among the most significant characteristics of international relations, considered as a process, and are inextricably linked sides of interaction between their participants [1]. In the language of Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx [2, 3, 4], they are a “dialectical pair“ - that is, mutually presupposing and mutually determining opposites that can “change places”.

In the theory of interstate cooperation and conflict, there are two directions: “liberalism” and “realism”. The development of the liberalist concept took place until the mid-30s of the last century, after this concept was replaced by the concept of realism, which operated until the 70s.

Prior to this period, the problems of cooperation were secondary to the problems of conflict. Thus, the theory of cooperation was based on the theory of conflict. In accordance with this, starting from the 50s, such a direction of the theory of inter-state relations as conflictology began to be formed, bringing the theory of inter-state conflict into an independent direction.

But the same could not be said about the theory of interstate cooperation, which for a long time remained unnoticed by researchers in the field of international relations. The main focus of research in this area was the study of military-political unions as a form of interstate cooperation.

However, since the 60s, the need to study the problems of interstate cooperation has gradually come to the fore. During this period, issues of integration processes, which were considered as a form of interstate cooperation, become relevant. Already in the 80’s, cooperation became an independent direction in the theory of international relations, as well as the direction of conflictology.

The prerequisites for studying interstate cooperation are the need for answers to such questions as internal reasons for the formation of cooperation, obstacles to the development of cooperation in the international environment, types and forms of cooperation, and many others.

At the same time, translation as a fundamental component of collaboration becomes an important issue for researchers. As a result, a fairly large amount of material has been generated for the study of problems and models of interstate cooperation.

The classical dialectic between realistic and liberal theories of international politics, expressed by R. Keohane and R. Rosecrance, can be overcome [5]. Neither paradigm explains the only correct international behavior. While realism is the dominant approach, liberal theories of transnationalism and interdependence help illuminate how national interests are being studied and changed.

Cohen and his fellow critics argue that neorealism, formulated definitively in the“ Theory of international politics “ by K. Waltz, systematizes the concepts of realism, but focuses on the structure of the international system at the expense of systemic processes. Focused on the concept of bipolarity, Waltz’s theory tends to be consistent [6].

At the same time, it is important to note that realism and neorealism deny the very possibility of cooperation in interstate interaction. K. Waltz notes that “States, when planning or implementing their foreign policy, strive to maximize relative benefits, i.e., seek to acquire more opportunities than their partners.”

Classical realists also focus more on human nature. They believe that people are generally selfish and aggressive. The main actors in the international system, States, are guided by these principles, which leads to the inevitability of conflicts.

In turn, neorealists are more focused on the distribution of power in the international system. The theory is based on the claim that the international system does not have a sovereign power that could conclude and enforce binding agreements. Without such power, States are given the opportunity to do what they like, which ultimately prevents States from trusting each other and, as a result, effectively cooperating.

This situation is further reinforced by the realistic assumption that the main goal of the state is to maximize power and security. Therefore, without a global center of power and influence that would keep States aspiring to power, it is difficult to prevent international conflicts.

This is why realists view international relations as a constant battle and struggle for survival. Even if some States do not try to increase their power and are happy with the way things are going, they cannot trust other States to think the same way. If another state suddenly decides to stop cooperation, the security of the first state will be under serious threat. Because all States know this, they all try to protect themselves by seeking control, building up their military capabilities, and forming alliances with other States. This, in turn, leads to another realistic concept-the security dilemma.

The security dilemma is that under conditions of uncertainty and limited rationality, perceived external threats (real or imagined) create a sense of insecurity in those States that consider themselves the targets of such threats, which encourages these States to take measures to increase their strength and ability to counter these threats (creating alliances, building up weapons, etc.).

Therefore, if one state registers that another state is suddenly increasing its military power, it will assume that it is going to attack, even if it is not. A state that believes it is under threat will also have to increase its military strength, which in turn will cause alarm to the primary state, and this spiral may continue for a long time.

This is an infinite situation, and that is why realists believe that cooperation is not only difficult, but at the very least impossible. The security dilemma arises from fear between States. Many of these States lack contact with each other, which ultimately leads to a lack of trust.

In order to move to interstate cooperation, the security dilemma between the two countries must not only stop growing, but also “turn around” in the opposite direction, the result of which will be that States can trust each other. However, even if States agree to certain international agreements on armaments, nothing will prevent one of them from violating the agreement, which still does not exclude a security threat.

Nevertheless, there is some disagreement among realists about this. While “offensive” realism asserts that States must always act aggressively to survive, because the international system encourages conflict and the inevitability of war, “defensive” realism is less negative. Its representatives believe that cooperation or conflict depends on the situation. For example, if two States have the same mindset and share the same views, they are more likely to cooperate.

The reason for this may be a better understanding between countries such as Germany and France, which share the same views and thus trust each other more. Therefore, the international system does not necessarily generate conflict.

Thus, first of all, realism ignores the importance of different concepts of identity and culture in different States. For example, districts with the same religion and culture are more likely to cooperate with each other. Realism has been sharply criticized for exaggerating the importance of States and for not taking into account other actors, such as various non-governmental organizations.

The opponents of realism are the theory of liberalism or institutionalism. Liberalism began to take shape immediately after the end of the First world war. Europe was so shaken by what had happened that politicians wanted to find a way to prevent any future wars.

The reason why liberal views have become more popular since the cold war is that States have begun to adopt international laws, arms control has increased significantly, as well as the role of international organizations has increased, and the movement towards democratic principles has begun in many States.

Unlike classical realists, liberals believe that human nature is such that people are able to restrain aggression. Their main assumption is that war is not inevitable, and there is much more scope for inter-state cooperation if anarchic factors are neutralized. This will lead to global changes.

The main obstacle to cooperation is the lack of a sufficient number of international institutions. According to liberalists, if the world created international organizations that promoted peaceful change, disarmament and the implementation of international laws, cooperation would be much easier to achieve.

If necessary, these international organizations can use law enforcement against States. States that are bound by rules and regulations created by institutions will have no choice but to cooperate. In the globalized world in which the international system now finds itself, new actors, such as transnational corporations and non-governmental organizations, will promote interdependence and integration among States, which in turn will lead to a peaceful international environment.

Another obstacle to cooperation is the huge deficit of democracy at the global level. Liberals believe that democratic States act peacefully towards each other, and most of the conflicts and threats in the world come from non-democratic States.

Another explanation may be that democratic States are aware that cooperation with other countries is beneficial to them. This is particularly valuable from an economic point of view, especially in a globalized world and in a free trade system. Organizations such as the WTO promote free markets, and States use this to improve their economic efficiency.

Neoliberalism became an extension of liberalism. In turn, the argument of R. Rosecrans, a proponent of neoliberalism, consists in the statement that an open trading system offers States maneuverability due to economic growth, and not military intervention. He softens his argument with realistic considerations of blasphemy, but cannot clarify the realist-liberal connections in his theory or fully explore the connections between power and non-power incentives that influence the behavior of States.

The synthesis of neorealism and neoliberalism is justified: the system theory uses the former for analysis at the level of structure, and the latter for analysis at the level of process. In the study of international relations, neoliberalism refers to a school of thought that believes that States should strive to extract absolute, rather than relative, gains in relation to other States.

At the same time, neoliberal thinkers of international relations often use game theory to explain why States cooperate or do not cooperate. Since their approach emphasizes the possibility of mutual benefits, they are interested in institutions that can negotiate mutually beneficial agreements and compromises.

As a result, neoliberalism is a response to neorealism, while not denying the anarchic nature of the international system, neoliberals claim that its importance and effect have been exaggerated. The neoliberal argument focuses on the alleged underestimation by neorealists of the varieties of cooperative behavior possible in a decentralized system.

Neoliberalism asserts that even in an anarchic system of Autonomous rational States, cooperation can arise through the cultivation of mutual trust and the creation of norms, rules and institutions.

From the point of view of the field of international relations theory and foreign interventionism, the debate between neoliberalism and neorealism is intra-paradigm, since both theories are positivist and focus mainly on the state system as the main unit of analysis.

In addition, neoliberalists note that with the development of democracy in countries, the concept of neorealism is increasingly losing relevance. Thus, Y. V. Borovsky and P. A. Gvozdev note that “the democratic world” completely removes “military and political restrictions for the expansion of diverse interstate cooperation, integration and the formation of international institutions” ([7], p. 127).

Thus, neorealism denies the very need for inter-state cooperation, and neoliberalism finds more and more grounds for developing cooperation.

Considering the dialectical relationship between conflict and cooperation, it is also important to introduce concepts such as the concept of “hard power” and the concept of “soft power”, which determine the very possibility of cooperation.

“Hard power” includes military interventions, coercive diplomacy, and economic sanctions, and relies on such material resources as the armed forces and economic resources.“ Accordingly, when implementing the “hard power” policy, it is impossible to talk about the possibility of interstate cooperation.

On the contrary, the implementation of the “soft power” policy creates a space for interstate cooperation. The concept of “soft power ““implies complete subordination of the object, but not out of fear, but out of the confidence that the subject is completely right and his attitudes are a good alternative, or the only correct ones” [8, 9].

J. Nye emphasized that soft power is based on the attractiveness of certain States to other participants in international relations [10].

Thus, the implementation of the policy of “soft power” allows the state to dominate, while not destroying the possibility of forming interstate cooperation.

In general, the theory of international relations has various definitions of inter-state cooperation, which come down to the general formulation that inter-state cooperation is considered as a situation “when some actors regulate their behavior in accordance with the actual or expected preferences of others through a process of [mutual] policy coordination” [11].

Thus, according to this definition, inter-state cooperation involves the interaction of States within the framework of coordinating their policies in accordance with the goal that unites them. At the same time, an important parameter in their interaction is the possibility of obtaining mutual benefits from the cooperation process. Similarly, the inability of one of the partner States to obtain benefits calls into question the possibility of implementing the cooperation process itself.

In contrast to conflict, when the parties seek to reduce the benefits of the opposite side, cooperation involves the search for mutually reinforcing benefits, as a solid basis for partnership on any issues important to both sides. In this regard, it is important to note that cooperation is always, at least, bilateral, in which the parties try to take into account the interests of the other party and avoid negative consequences for any of the parties.

Thus, cooperation is based on cooperation, in which the parties try to reach an optimal consensus that provides benefits for the parties to cooperation. At the same time, R. G. Mumladze notes that “interstate regulation of international relations is a set of obligations voluntarily assumed by various countries and General rules of action in the sphere of world economic relations” [12].

Accordingly, inter-state cooperation is described in the categories of obligations assumed by States within the established General rules of action. An international Treaty is a form of General rules and specification of States ‘obligations in the framework of cooperation. According to V. Vezhnovets and A. Borodich, the international Treaty “as the main source of international law, plays a key role in the development of interstate cooperation across the entire spectrum of international relations, both in bilateral and multilateral formats” [13].

In order to reveal the concepts of interstate cooperation, it is important to consider the conditions under which it can be implemented. Within this framework, E. Milner introduces a number of hypothetical conditions for the implementation of interstate cooperation.

It is useful to classify the conditions for interstate cooperation:

  1. the “reciprocity hypothesis”. This hypothesis is based on the possibility of implementing equal opportunities for partner States, both in obtaining benefits from cooperation, and in incurring losses or receiving penalties for failure to fulfill their obligations under concluded international treaties.

  2. “Hypothesis about the number of actors”. This hypothesis is related to the statement that the more actors involved in the cooperation process, the less benefits each of the partner States can receive from this cooperation. And, accordingly, on the contrary, reducing the number of actors expands the prospects for cooperation for the interacting parties in cooperation.

  3. “the hypothesis of the iteration”. This hypothesis is based on the statement that the longer the relationship exists between States, the more likely they are to enter the stage of cooperation. Due to the fact that iteration involves repeating something many times, in this case we mean the repeated repetition of successful experiences of cooperation between specific States. If there is not enough experience, the probability of successful inter-state cooperation is sharply reduced.

  4. hypothesis of international regimes”. This hypothesis presupposes the expectation that partner States have similar principles and rules for decision-making. The regime presupposes a set of norms, principles, and rules of decision-making in the field of establishing international relations. It is the international regime is a regulatory basis for the solution of international conflicts and the implementation of inter-state cooperation.

    Central to regime theory is the thesis of“ hegemonic stability”, according to which regimes were created and protected by the dominant powers.

  5. “Hypothesis of epistemic communities”. This hypothesis suggests the development of self-organizing expert communities, which are based on collective values, are able to influence the adoption of economic and political decisions.

  6. “the hypothesis of power asymmetry”. This hypothesis assumes that States are unequal in relation to power and cooperation is most likely if one of the States has a strong influence in international politics, which will eventually contribute to achieving stability.

In revealing the power asymmetry hypothesis, it is necessary to affirm that States are extremely unequal in terms of the power they wield and their influence in world Affairs, but they are equal before the law and in terms of their rights and obligations. In particular, the principle of “one country, one vote” should theoretically equalize all members of international organizations.

Another important aspect of inter-state cooperation is the need to ensure collective security. “Collective security refers to an order of inter-state cooperation in which any act of aggression against any of the participants in such a system is regarded as aggression against all other participants.”

Another important aspect is the need to ensure mutually beneficial economic interaction between States. At the same time, “a country’s foreign economic relations are a whole area that includes various forms of international cooperation with other countries and international organizations.”

The specifics of interstate cooperation at the current stage of development of international relations is the active participation of international and transnational organizations that determine the rules for forming and conducting cooperation within the framework of international law.

Thus, “in modern international relations, an important role belongs to international organizations as one of the organizational and legal forms of international (interstate) cooperation”.

At the same time, the role of intergovernmental organizations is being strengthened. Thus, “the infrastructure of the modern international system is also formed by intergovernmental organizations and other formats of multilateral interaction of States” [14].


2. Results

The current state and dynamics of development of interstate cooperation processes are determined by international and domestic processes that have transformed the spheres of international politics and economy over the past 50 years.

Firstly, with the collapse of the international order that emerged after World War II, the need to develop new agreements on cooperation between states has significantly increased. Although cooperation is not always mutually beneficial, attempts by states to reduce the negative impact of their political decisions on each other can lead to an overall increase in their well-being.

Secondly, from the concepts of “transnationalism” and “interdependence”, in the context of which neorealist propositions became widespread in the 1970s and 80s, scientists came to the concept of globalization, which implies not only the traditional consideration of the international system as anarchic, but also the transformation of the principle of political territoriality, on which international relations were traditionally based on.

Thirdly, it is necessary to recognize the general decline of the traditional system of diplomacy. On the one hand, professional diplomacy is giving way to political support, ‘loud’ diplomacy and diplomacy of insults. On the other hand, professional diplomacy is being transformed into international technical management.

The development and existence of a state as a subject of international relations and international law cannot take place without external relations with other subjects of international law. The need for external relations requires the organization of an apparatus for the implementation of such relations and the regulation of these relations by means of international law.


3. Discussion of results

The problems of world politics, international relations, and everything that happens in the international arena have always been at the center of attention of journalists, politicians, analysts, and society as a whole. Aspects that are directly related to the search for means that will allow us to approach the implementation of foreign policy decisions or how to do it-in other words, aspects of diplomacy – were of interest, rather, to a narrower circle. The reasons for this attitude to diplomacy are understandable and partly justified. First of all, it is necessary to understand what is happening, outline the main foreign policy priorities and approaches, and then only look for ways to implement them.

Today, diplomacy is largely multi-party in nature and simultaneously involves the participation of more than two parties in solving and discussing problematic issues. This is due to the fact that the globalization of the modern world affects the interests of many parties at once.

Multilateral negotiation and multilateral diplomacy give rise to new opportunities but at the same time and difficulties in the bilateral environment. For example, an increase in the number of parties when discussing a problem situation leads to a more complex overall structure of interests, the formation of coalitions, and the appearance of leading States in negotiating forums. In addition, a large number of procedural, organizational and technical problems arise in multilateral negotiations, namely: the need to agree on the venue; the agenda, decision-making and decision-making; and the chairmanship of forums; accommodation of delegations, etc. All this, in turn, contributes to the bureaucratization of negotiation processes.

It is also necessary to note other features of modern diplomacy, which are due to current trends in global political progress. The interdependence of the world and globalization have increased the importance of diplomacy, which is carried out at the highest and highest levels, as it provides an opportunity for “broad linkages” between different aspects. It is also necessary to take into account the fact that agreements signed by top officials of countries provide additional guarantees for their implementation. In addition, at these meetings, heads of state have the opportunity to quickly get the necessary information “first-hand” and exchange views.

In addition, diplomacy at the highest and highest levels has a downside. First of all, the scale of decisions made dramatically increases the degree of responsibility for them, and, accordingly, the price of a possible error. This problem is particularly acute in crisis situations. In addition, it should be borne in mind that if agreements that were reached at the highest or high levels are suddenly considered erroneous after they are signed, it is much more difficult to abandon them than those signed similarly at a lower level, because in this situation, the country’s officials are discredited.

Another limitation of diplomacy at the highest and highest levels is that it is largely determined by personal antipathies and sympathies, and this has an impact on foreign policy decisions. In addition, it should be borne in mind that diplomacy at the highest and highest levels can only be effective if it is well prepared. In other words, the participants of these meetings may be “hostages” of the public’s hopes for a quick solution to the problem situation and take unjustified steps. It is for this reason that G. Nickolson was quite reserved about top-level and high-level diplomacy [13]. He believed that there were situations when the foreign Minister or the head of the Cabinet should be present at important conferences, but their private mutual visits should not be too encouraged. These visits, he wrote, raise hopes, lead to misunderstandings, and often create confusion.

In modern diplomacy, the emphasis is not just on refusing outright deception. The informative and communicative function of diplomacy is primarily aimed at forming a dialog.

A bilateral dialog is a recognition that the other side has its own goals and interests. This is not only natural and natural, but also a productive factor in terms of the progress of relations. It follows that the main function of communication and information is not the Directive imposition of one’s own point of view, but the desire to seek a mutually acceptable solution to problems through dialog.

The ideas of progress in the inter-state dialog are also reflected in theoretical works on negotiations. The concept of hard bargaining, when each participant was concerned only with their own interests and presents their position as extremely closed, is replaced by the concept of joint analysis of the problem with the partner. It implies a focus on mutual satisfaction of interests and an open nature of negotiation processes.

The focus on dialog in the modern world is conditioned by the need to seek solutions to emerging problems related to the fight against terrorism, the environment, the development of integration processes, conflict resolution, etc. through joint efforts. As a result, solving international problems objectively becomes the main function of diplomacy.


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Written By

Alexander Rozanov, Maria Ivanchenko, Alexandra Baranova, Elena N. Antonova, Mikhail Smirnov, Olga Belyaeva, Maria Ilicheva, Ludmila Ilicheva, Maria Krotovskaya, Tatiana Grabovich, Zaru Utekova, Dmitry Medvedev, Natalya Ogneva, Furat Al-Mutairi, Elvira Shishlo, Amina Surpkelova, Irina Kopachevskaya, Irina Sokurova, Yulia Borisova, Fernando Joao, Artyom Pakulskikh, Polina Chernova, Alexandra Khramova, Oksana Gryuk, Jesus Yaniz Gonzalez, Valentina Komleva, Alina Papsheva and Arkadi Bessonov

Submitted: 10 September 2019 Reviewed: 11 September 2020 Published: 21 October 2020