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Liberalism


Liberalism, being one of the major pillars in international relations theories, contains the various perspectives on institutions, behaviours, and economic connections that constitute and balance the power of states.


Liberalist believes that people’s basic rights and liberty are the main purpose of government and emphasise the well-being of individuals and a just society in building a liberal society. On the international level, a liberalist believes that by setting supranational mechanisms such as international law and international institutions, countries may enjoy a more stable international order thus better facilitating international cooperation in terms of economic, diplomacy, as well as jurisdiction.


In comparison to realism and constructivism, liberalism focuses more on the establishment of “international norms”, from which values such as democracy, rule of law, and human rights are recognised by all member states in order to create a mutually beneficial community. Furthermore, liberalism also emphasises the importance of international organisations and multinational cooperation.


The idea of liberalism can be traced back to the 17th century. English philosopher John Locke captured the essence of liberalism as natural rights and laws, which became the founding principles in liberalism. Kant further elaborated on liberalism on the international level and summarised it as “the mutual pursuit of secure freedom and shared benefits”. In contemporary politics, Wilson’s diplomatic policies were regarded as an embodiment of liberalism.


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