TheOrganization of Islamic Cooperation Student: Juanita Rojas, 445364Tutor: Reinout van der VeerAssignment 3. International Relations Theories Rotterdam, 23 January 2018 Word count: 2102 International Relations theories: the case of the Organization of IslamicCooperation. Regimesare a very important part of our international system. There are two main theoriesin the field of International Relations (IR) which explain what regimes are andhow they are formed and maintained. Yet these two theories are very differentto each other. (Baylis, Smith & Owens, 2013).
These two major theories areliberalism and realism. They mainly explain how the international system works.Stephen Krasner defines regimes as ‘setsof implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-makingprocedures around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area ofinternational relations’ (Baylis et al., 2013: 293). According to the liberalist theory, regimes can helpovercome anarchy, which is defined as a lack of authority that can enforceagreements among states or among actors in the system (Ozkan, 2011). They believe anarchy can both prevent collaborationbut simultaneously help promote regime formation. Microeconomics and gametheory are used to explain why anarchy prevents regime formation.
According tomicro-economists, an uncontrolled market is not effective when it comes to theproduction of common goods. They state that economic actors should insteadcollaborate rather than compete within the market. A possible way to do this isthrough state intervention where states require actors to collaborate. Thissame idea can be applied to the international system, where in contrast to themarket, there is no actor who can require sovereign states to collaborate. However,the sole existence of regimes, such as the United Nations or the Organizationof Islamic Cooperation, shows that collaboration can be possible within ananarchic structure. Regardless, this collaboration and interaction betweenstates can also prove to be a complex situation.
Game theorists refer to aPrisoner’s Dilemma; there are cases of ‘market failure’ in which states choose competitiverather than collaborative strategies because they expect the other actors topursue competitive strategies. As a result, effective solutions cannot be reached.Liberalists, thus, believe that it is important to identify a mechanism thatproves that other actors will not defect, which in this case is a regime thatprovides this kind of mechanism. The biggest means for establishing and maintaininga regime according to liberals is the principle of reciprocity and the shadowof the feature which prevent actors from defecting and which results in theBattle of the Sexes (Baylis, 2013). Furthermore, liberal theory believes that regimesenable states to collaborate with each other, that they promote the commongood, that they flourish best when promoted and maintained by a kind hegemon,and that they promote globalization and a liberal world order (Baylis et al.,2013). According to the realist perspective, regimes form insituations where there are uncoordinated strategies which interact to producesuboptimal outcomes.
This theory also resorts to game theory, which argues thatstates which form a regime face the problem of coordination which can beillustrated by the Prisoner’s Dilemma. In this case, the problem is associatedwith the possibility of failing to coordinate strategies, resulting in thedismissal of a mutually desired goal. Realist then argue that because of thisproblem, states conform to a regime while wishing to change the fundamentalprinciples. A failure to coordinate will only put them in a more disadvantagedposition (Baylis, 2013). There is a mutual desire to cooperate, but anarchycreates a problem of coordination. Moreover, realists believe that regimes canenable states to coordinate, that they generate different benefits for states,that power is the central feature of regime formation and survival and that thenature of the world order depends on the underlying principles and norms ofregimes.
In this article, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will beanalyzed in terms of these two theories in order to determine which theory isbetter in explaining the foundation and design of the OIC. FoundationIn1969 on the 25th of September, after a fire was started in theAl-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a historical summit took place in Rabat, Morocco,where a resolution was passed stating that the Muslim government would conferwith a view of promoting cooperation and mutual assistance in scientific, economic,cultural and spiritual areas (OIC, 2017). The OIC was then founded in 1972 duringthe Third Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister where the first Charter of the,then called, Islamic Conference Organization was approved and adopted.
Thischarter put emphasis on the notion of Islamic solidarity (Castillo, 2014). Theinterest in Islamic solidarity and cooperation between Muslim states can be seenin terms of liberalism which puts emphasis on cooperation to further the commongood. In this case the organization is concerned with the common good ofMuslims and the Islam. In contrast, realist theory is more about cooperating tofurther national interests of the member states.
Another reason that supportsthe liberal theory is that they believe that state’s interests are determinedby the many interests, ideals, and activities of its members, which capturegovernmental authority (Ozkan, 2016). However, at the same time, the OIC works for the resolutionof conflicts and disputes by its Member States (OIC, 2017), this aspect of theorganization relates to realist theory which claims that states cooperate inorder to resolve conflicts. But compared to all its other objectivesemphasizing cooperation on religious grounds, the liberal theory is moreprominent than the realist theory, because liberalists tend to focus more on cooperationthan on conflict (Ozkan, 2016). Moreover, on the 28th of June of2011, the organization changed its name to the Organization for IslamicCooperation. And as the name already implies, this regime was established withthe aim for cooperation based on community norms and values instead of power orsurvival as believed by the realist theory.
Also, the progress and cooperation withinthe Islamic community will end up being an absolute gain for all the memberstates of the OIC, which is believed to be one of the reasons to cooperate withinthe liberal theory (Ozkan, 2016). As previously mentioned, the mainobjectives of the organization are based on religious ground. Importantobjectives are, for example, to improve and strengthen Islamic friendship andsolidarity among the Member States; protect and defend Islam’s true image;promote interaction and communities and religions; strive to achieve integratedand sustainable human development, and ensure the well-being of Member States (Castillo,2014). Since the study of international relations for realists is the analysisof relations among states, the objective to strengthen friendship and promoteinteraction among member states could be seen as realist instead of liberal(Ozkan, 2016). However, even stronger isthe long and historic desire among the Muslims to unite and to form anassociation which deals with the problems faced by the Islam community (Bacik,2011).
Furthermore, the OIC contributes inits capability as subject of international law, to further institutionalizeinternational society and develop its sources, but always from an Islamic perspective(Castillo, 2014). Bacik (2011) states that the OIC recognizes the authority ofinternational law. This aspect of the organization relates more to the liberaltheory than to the realist one. Besides, realist approaches have always beenskeptical of international law (Ozkan, 2016). The organization insists on thefoundational status of the Islamic idea of Ummah (the Islamic community) as inthe cooperation of Muslim countries, yet recognizes national sovereignty. DesignTheOIC consists of 57 Member states and is the second largest organization afterthe United Nations (UN). It is also the only international organization in theworld with a religious basis (Bacik, 2011).
Bacik (2011) claims that despitethe religious ethos of the organization, in times of crisis the behavior ofmembers are determined by national motivations rather than religious ones,which connects more to the survival aspect of the realist perspective. However,the OIC has never neglected the Ummah in its official jargon. At the summit of1981, it declared that “all Muslims,different though they may be in their language, color, domicile or other condition,form but one nation” (Bacik, 2011: 597). Yet, the organization seems to beparalyzed by its member states, which are thus primarily driven by theirnational interests.
According to Bacik (2011) the institutional weakness of theOIC is connected to the lack of clear membership rules between 1972 (when theCharter was launched) and 2008 (when it was amended). During this period, the OIC demandednothing from the states that wanted to become member of the organization. Accordingto the OIC Charter, which was ratified in 1972, “every Muslim State is eligible to join the Islamic Conference onsubmitting an application expressing its desire and preparedness to adopt thisCharter” (Bacik, 2011: 603). This easy membership method eventually causedthe organization to paralyze (Bacik, 2011), making it an organization withoutan effective strategy or shared ambition. Usually, all international organizationsaim to create an international regime of rules, norms, principles, andprocedures. As stated by the liberal theory, in order to create standards of behavior,regimes must have a mechanism that enforces the existing rules and procedures.Easy and cheap membership rules, however, prevent the success of the OIC(Bacik, 2011).
This means that de design of the OIC displays a more realistapproach where states are not concerned with the shadow of the future and aremore likely to defect when there is need for cooperation due to a lack of enforcementof the unclear membership rules. Loose membership criteria fail to constrainmember states to abide by the shared values and principles (Bacik, 2011). Another reason for the failure ofthe OIC is that it does not have a rule enforcing body that steers it. Withoutthe power of such a body to coordinate the organization, it faces events withdifficulty instead than in an harmonious, easy manner (Bacik, 2011).
The factthat it cannot solve problems harmoniously but rather in conflict connects tothe realist perspective which emphasizes cooperation to solve conflicts. TheOIC is thus in a weak position in regard to its members. Moreover, several OIC countries haveconsiderable power. This is because OIC pledges for financial member aids areoften only partly met, so countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have significantinfluence within the OIC (Johnson, 2010).
For example, Pakistan has used theOIC as a platform to push a resolution on religious blasphemy in the UN.Pakistan also has had major influence in preventing India (one of the world’scountries with the largest Muslim population) from joining the organization(Johnson, 2010). This supports the realist perspective that states use regimesto further their own national interests and that it is all about power andsurvival after all. Besideslooking at these two separate aspects of the OIC, there are also theories thatwhich connect religion to International Relations theories.
According to Sandal& James (2010), neoliberalism is the most suitable framework for religiousorganizations such as the OIC. Such religious organizations use religion tolegitimize their actions and influence world politics (Sandal & James,2011). Afteranalyzing the OIC in terms of the two major international relation theories, liberalismand realism, it can be concluded that both can be used to explain respectivelythe foundation and the design of the OIC. The foundation of the OIC has a moreliberalist approach because its objectives are mainly directed at promotingcooperation between Muslim states in order to safeguard the Islamic community,the Ummah. However, even though the OIC is fundamentally based on religiousgrounds, there are some aspects of the foundation, such as its emphasis onconflict resolution and the relation between its member states, which resemblea rather realist approach. Regardless, its emphasis on cooperation and thevalues and norms of the Islamic community have a bigger role in its foundation.
In contrast, the design of the OIC has a more realistapproach. Mostly because in times of crisis most member states tend to prefernational interests rather than the religious values of the organization.Moreover, because the OIC lacks a clear membership structure and a rule enforcingbody. These aspects allow members to defect easier because there is noenforcing mechanism, which connects to the realist theory of Prisoner’sDilemma. Furthermore, the past has shown that some countries tend to have asignificant influence on the decision-making procedure of the OIC, whichreflect their own national interests. All in all, this shows that there remaindifferences of opinion on the nature of the organization’s role ininternational relations.