International Law And Soft Power

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Politics is often defined as “the pursuit of... and competition for political power” (Djeudo, 2013: 54). This hints at the notion that power is of paramount importance with regards to politics and hence, it is in every state’s interest to pursue power. Therefore, since international law is cumbersome to the pursuit of power, it has no role in foreign policy. However, I would argue that contrary to popular belief, international law is not an “unnecessary distraction” as it helps pursue soft power. In international politics today, soft power is favoured over hard power and hence, I would even argue that international law is a necessary tool in foreign policy. To better facilitate the discourse, I would like to establish certain perimeters. In this paper, soft power is defined as “the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals” (Nye, 2003) while hard power is defined as “the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will” (Nye, 2003). Hence, soft power concentrates on building positive relations with other states, whereas hard power can be said to be more antagonistic and hardhanded, which is counter to what international law stands for. In this sense, international law supports the expansion of soft power more than that of hard power. I would also like to borrow the United Nation’s (UN) definition of international law, which is that “international law defines the legal responsibilities of States in their conduct with each other, and their treatment of individuals within State boundaries” (United nations global, n.d). Arguably, international law hampers the pursuit of hard power as it presents obstacles which aim to curb aggression and ... ... middle of paper ... ... economic sanctions and poorer relations, are more dire then commonly perceived and could handicap a state’s expansion of both soft and hard power. Thus, it would be prudent to adhere to international law, or at least, give the impression of doing so. Hence, this highlights the importance of international law in foreign policy and the pursuit of both hard and soft power. In essence, I would argue that contrary to common perception, international law is of paramount importance to foreign policy. This is because although international law curbs the expansion of hard power, it promotes the pursuit of soft power. In the international arena today, soft power trumps hard power and hence, I would argue that international law is more important than ever. Therefore, it is certainly not an “is an unnecessary distraction from the pursuit of power in the international arena”.
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