chapter  1
34 Pages

Definitions and history

Both words in the title of this book have been a source of puzzlement for the student of international relations. It is worth examining them more closely before turning to the realities they represent when joined together. The term international, thought to be the creation of Jeremy Bentham, is often seen as a misnomer. Instead, it is claimed, the term ‘interstate’ or ‘intergovernmental’ should be used when describing an activity – war, diplomacy, relations of any kind – conducted between two sovereign states and their governmental representatives. Thus talk of an ‘international agreement’ between state A and state B to limit arms production or to control the selling of computer technology refers not to an understanding between the armament manufacturers of A and B or to a pact between their computer firms, but to an arrangement by state A’s governmental representatives with those of state B.