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EPIS Basics

Basis-Informationen zur internationalen Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik

In kleinen Wissensbeiträgen stellen wir wöchentlich grundlegende Informationen zur internationalen Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik vor. Die kurzen Ausführungen drehen sich um zentrale Persönlichkeiten, Theorien und Organisationen. So hast Du auf die schnelle einen Überblick.

Dynamic Differential Theory

The Dynamic Differential Theory focuses on how the power perceptions of states shape their strategic behaviour. It asserts that states' choices to balance against or bandwagon with stronger powers are driven by their assessments of relative power changes. It also contends that the decline of a dominant military power is the cause of war. That is because the strong power sees the power differential in the global order which is their downward of power. This theory offers insights into alliance formation and how states strategically respond to changing power dynamics.

Environmental Security

Environmental Security contends that environmental issues are vital to global stability and national security. This concept emphasises the interconnection between ecological issues and traditional security concerns. This perspective first and foremost highlights potential conflicts over environmental resources or the displacement of populations due to environmental factors. It asserts the need for international cooperation to address shared environmental threats, promoting both ecological sustainability and geopolitical stability.


Postcolonialism in international relations examines the continuing effects of colonialism on global power dynamics. It analyses how the legacies of former colonial powers continue to shape international interactions, policies, and institutions. Postcolonialism seeks to amplify marginalised voices, challenge Eurocentric narratives, and explore alternative forms of international cooperation that acknowledge historical injustices. It moreover aims for more levelled relations among states and regions.


Regionalism in international relations refers to the process of states forming alliances, institutions, or cooperative initiatives within a specific geographic area. This approach can serve various purposes, such as promoting trade, enhancing security, and addressing shared challenges. This theory posits that regional dynamics can influence global politics by creating alternative centres of influence and thus affecting the overall structure of international relations.

Game Theory

Game Theory is a framework for analysing strategic interactions between states where outcomes depend on the choices of all actors involved. States aim to maximize their own gains while considering the potential actions of other states. This approach helps understand how states might cooperate, compete, or engage in conflict, based on their assumptions of each other's actions. Game Theory provides insights into negotiation dynamics, arms races, and various other international scenarios.

English School Theory

The English School Theory of International Relations aims to reconcile Realism and Idealism, emphasizing power and sovereignty alongside norms and institutions' impact on global outcomes. It highlights the evolution of an international society based on common values, rules, and shared interests, fostering cooperation while acknowledging the enduring significance of state power.


Hedging, a relatively new concept, refers to a strategic approach where states simultaneously pursue multiple policies to manage uncertainty and adapt to changing geopolitical dynamics. This involves both maintaining a flexible stance and hedging against potential risks. This strategy aims to have a balance between safeguarding security and maximising advantageous opportunities in an unpredictable international environment.

Balancing & Bandwagoning

Balancing and bandwagoning are two strategies that states employ in response to shifts in the balance of power. Balancing refers to the tendency of weaker states to form alliances to counterbalance against a stronger power in order to maintain a stable power equilibrium. On the other hand, bandwagoning involves weaker states aligning with a dominant power, often in the hope of benefiting from its protection. Balancing is derived from the desire to avoid loss, whereas bandwagoning states seek an opportunity to gain benefits.

Power Transition Theory

The Power Transition Theory suggests that the international system is stable when power is concentrated with one dominant power that maintains the status quo and that the probability of war increases when power is evenly distributed among rising powers. This theory particularly emphasises the potential for war during a transitional phase, as the established power is reluctant to give up its dominant position while rising powers aim to assert themselves.

Hegemonic Stability Theory

The Hegemonic Stability Theory suggests that the international system is more likely to be stable in a unipolar system where there is a single dominant power or hegemon. As this hegemon provides public goods such as a stable currency and security guarantees, it reduces uncertainty among states and maintains the international order. This theory also indicates that shifts in hegemonic power can lead to instability and conflict as new powers seek control and the established order will be disrupted.

Security Dilemma

According to the Security Dilemma, if one state increases its security capabilities, this simultaneously reduces the security of another. Consequently, security-increasing measures lead to a cycle of increased tensions, escalations, or conflicts. This occurs because it is hard to know about other states' intentions: Do they simply gear up their defence capabilities or are they actively preparing for war? Hence, efforts to enhance security can lead to greater instability due to the misperception of intentions and the lack of trust in the international system.

Balance of Threat Theory

The Balance of Threat Theory asserts that states form alliances based on the threat they perceive from other states. It contends that states evaluate potential threats not only regarding power but also consider the level of aggression, the capabilities, and the intentions of other states. This theory highlights the importance of assessing threats and suggests that states align against those perceived as the greatest threats rather than just the most powerful entities.

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