The language of special responsibilities is ubiquitous in world politics, with policymakers and commentators alike speaking and acting as though particular states have, or ought to have, unique obligations in managing global problems. Surprisingly, scholars are yet to provide any in-depth analysis of this fascinating aspect of world politics. This path-breaking study examines the nature of special responsibilities, the complex politics that surround them and how they condition international social power. The argument is illustrated with detailed case-studies of nuclear proliferation, climate change and global finance. All three problems have been addressed by an allocation of special responsibilities, but while this has structured politics in these areas, it has also been the subject of ongoing contestation. With a focus on the United States, this book argues that power must be understood as a social phenomenon and that American power varies significantly across security, economic and environmental domains.
Mlada Bukovansky is Associate Professor of Government at Smith College. She is the author of Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture (2002). Ian Clark is E. H. Carr Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of many books, most recently a three-volume study of international legitimacy - Legitimacy in International Society (2005), International Legitimacy and World Society (2007) and Hegemony in International Society (2011). Robyn Eckersley is Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences and Program Director of the Master of International Relations Program at the University of Melbourne. She is author of The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004) and editor (with J. Barry) of The State and the Global Ecological Crisis (2005) and (with A. Dobson) Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge (2006). Richard MacKay Price is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia. He is author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo (1997), co-editor with Mark W. Zacher of The United Nations and Global Security (2004) and editor of Moral Limit and Possibility in World Politics (2008). Christian Reus Smit holds the Chair in International Relations at the European University Institute in Florence. He is the author of American Power and World Order (2004), co-author of Theories of International Relations (2001, 2005, 2008), editor of The Politics of International Law (2004) and co-editor with Duncan Snidal of The Oxford Handbook of International Relations (2008). Nicholas J. Wheeler holds a Chair in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He is the author of Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (2000), co-author (with Ken Booth) of The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (2007) and co-editor (with Tim Dunne) of Human Rights in Global Politics (2000).
Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Framework: 1. A practice in search of a theory; 2. Special responsibilities in world politics; Part II. Three Global Problems: 3. Nuclear proliferation; 4. Climate change; 5. Global finance; Part III. Ethical Dimensions: 6. The ethics of special responsibilities; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.