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Liberal Internationalism: Human Rights and the Birth of Global Justice

liberal internationalism is a political ideology that started in the 1980s and gained much significance after the Second World. A number of scholars have developed the concepts of liberal internationalization in an attempt to explain the aspects of foreign relations and the role of international networks and institutions. Stanley Hoffmann argues that liberal internationalism confronts the intellectual, political, and moral crisis at the time when it seemed at hand during the Cold War period (Doyle, 2006). The concept of liberal internationalization appeared as a response to the rapidly changing world in the 19th and 20th centuries, marked by the rise of nationalism, economic interdependences, and global conflicts. These ages of revolution gave a bath to new forms of thinking about politics and human rights. Dornan (2011) states that liberal internationalism has provided the foundations for the formulation of world justice and human rights and has played a very significant in liberal thoughts and practices today. These contexts present liberal internationalism as it relates to human rights and the development of global justice.

Human Rights

The majority of people think that the concept of human rights is liberal. The aspects of human rights have incorporated some liberal norms. In many countries, human rights were codified as the basis of individuals’ liberty in the manner of political participation and the right to political participation at the international level (Jahn, 2018). Human rights are universal in their aspiration and formulation, and they are particular in their application (Jahn, 2018). This means they apply all equally, and they are based on equality, mutual respect, and dignity across philosophies, cultures, and religions. Additionally, they give people the right to participate in decisions that impact their lives.

The aspects of human rights can be linked to liberal democracy. Liberal democracy is the type of democracy that protects individuals and properties by the rule of law. Mutua (2017) posits that liberal democracy is committed to the proposition. Every person has inherent dignity and is inviolable, and this proposition is axiomatic even in the essence of the government. Thus, democracy is committed to human rights and is against governments that do not support it. Kenneth Roth, when writing the report “Despots Masquerading as Democrats,” defined human rights as a sign of hope. Even dictators have come to believe that the way to legitimacy runs by democratic credentials (Mutua, 2017). Liberal internationalism is said to have played a very significant role in speaking against human rights violations. Countries and international institutions have liberal internationalism philosophies embedded in their constitutions. Gavrila (2013) states that the Nations is a good example of international institutions that adhere to the liberal institutionalist perspective of supporting economic interdependencies and democratic governments.

Social Justice

The idea of liberal internationalism can be linked to former United States President Woodrow Wilson, who argued that conflicts and instability were the undemocratic nature of global politics, especially on power balance and foreign policies (Dornan, 2011). Having developed the main causes of international conflicts,ct it is easy to state that the main aim of liberal internationalism is to expand democratic policies and free trade while still protecting and promoting human rights (Dornan,2011). However, the idea of how the world should be has been inspired by Immanuel Kant’s philosophies about perpetual peace. Kant suggests that when a country is identified as a republic, the citizens have the opportunity to make their own decisions, and the probability of choosing to go to war becomes less attractive (Dornan,2021). Therefore, If more countries become republics and democratic, the likelihood of their citizens making decisions to go to war is less likely as they view peace as a triumph and war as irrational. Thus, the main aspect of liberal internationalism is to spread peace. In summary, the idea of liberal internationalism can be viewed as a strategy for international networks and relations aiming to spread liberal democracy in different countries.

Globalization, civil wars, and military interventions are some of the causes of inequality at the international level. Conflicts increase migration and refugee levels, and the core liberal state imports political tensions between refugees and migration rather than exporting political conflicts (Jahn, 2011). At the international level, human rights laws and policies appear to threaten the majority population and the privileged citizens in core liberal states. The undermining of the international or domestic divide undermines the political, economic, and ideological basis of generated resistance and domestic liberalism (Jahn, 2011). Therefore, even though liberals’ internationalization plays a significant part in promoting equality, the economic connections between states, along with conflict and migrations, can pose serious concerns to the rich and powerful states. Additionally, the global rules of treating people equally challenge the special rights of these countries and can result in resistance from some people. Kupchan and Trubowitz (2017statees that under the Bush Administration in the 2000s, The US appeared to abandon liberal internationalism and replace it with unilateralism and multilateralism.

Even though liberal internationalization identifies states as the main actors, Marxists insist that social class is the most significant factor of inequality (Dornan, 2011). Marxists argue that society, both nationally and internationally, is prone to class conflict, and stability can only be achieved through the concept of hegemony. Antonio Gramscian, one of the Marxist philosophers, has suggested that the leading powers at the international level have created a world that suits their goals and interests and convinces the lower classes that the current system is in their best interest (Ajvazi, 2021). This approach can be perceived by the US’s attempt to abandon the concept of liberal internationalization as it appears to be a threat to their powers.


Liberal Internationalization has played a significant role in promoting human rights at national and international levels. Liberal internationalization laid a foundation for democracy, which laid a foundation for the formulation of human rights. Even though liberal democracy has legalized many human rights and freedoms at the national and international levels, social justice remains a social concern. Liberal internationalization states that the state is the main actor in national stability, but Marxists have also shown that other factors, such as social classes, affect world stability. Additionally, liberal internationalization may be opposed by many developed economies as they see it as a threat to their power and position. Therefore, even though liberal internationalization has significantly promoted human rights at the domestic and international levels, achieving social justice remains a great concern.


Ajvazi, I. (2021). In Defence of Karl Marx.

Dornan, M. (2011). Liberal Internationalism. E-International Relations.

Doyle, M. W. (2006). Kant and liberal internationalism. Rethinking toward perpetual peace and other writings on politics, peace, and history, pp. 201–237.

Gavrila, M. A. (2013, May 3). Liberal and realist considerations of UN effectiveness. E-International Relations.

Jahn, B. (2018). Liberal internationalism: historical trajectory and current prospects. International Affairs94(1), 43–61.

Kupchan, C. A., & Trubowitz, P. L. (2007). Dead center: The demise of liberal internationalism in the United States. International Security32(2), 7-44.

Mutua, M. W. (2017). The ideology of human rights. In International Law of Human Rights (pp. 103–172). Routledge.


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