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Multilateral Institutions




Admissions requirements

Introduction to International Relations & Diplomacy and a 200-level course from the “IR and Diplomacy” track of the Major.


This course explores the origins and role of international and multilateral organizations in contemporary world politics, their functioning and their institutional framework . This is a particularly interesting time to be studying this topic, as changes in the international balance of power increasingly challenge the possibilities for the US and “ the West” in general to shape the post-Cold War global order.

The course will focus on global organizations, such as the United Nations and its agencies, funds and programs, informal structures such as the G-20, as well as regional organizations such as the European Union, NATO, ASEAN, the African Union, the League of Arab Nations and others.

The course will analyze questions such as:

  • Why do states (and other actors) create international organizations in pursuit of their interests?

  • How do international organizations constrain or enable the behavior of states and other actors in the international arena?

  • When are international organizations effective in achieving their goals?

  • Are they held sufficiently accountable?

  • How should and can they adapt to changing power structures and new balances of power?

  • Can and should the multilateral system have more “teeth” to enforce its decisions ?

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to

  • describe and evaluate both the usefulness and the limitations of theoretical approaches in their analysis of how international organisations function in practice

  • analyse/examine/critically review the different roles played by international organisations in the realms of peace, security, development and diplomacy

  • distinguish between different forms of multilateral organisations

  • apply disciplinary concepts on conflict, peace, security and development to a specific region

  • find, evaluate and critically read relevant academic literature and other information

  • report on findings orally and in writing using the appropriate formats


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course meets twice a week in seminar format, which will consist of lectures, student presentations and dilemma discussions. Each seminar will focus on one specific subject. For the topic of each seminar please consult the weekly overview which will be put on Blackboard in due time.

In the first seminars in the weeks 2-6, two students will give a presentation on the subject of that particular seminar. The two presentations together will take a maximum of 45 minutes and should be coordinated. They should also invite further discussion, in particular by presenting 2 or 3 questions which can be discussed in the second hour of the seminar.

Dilemma discussions
During the dilemma discussions, which will take place every second seminar of weeks 2-6, two students will prepare and lead a debate on an issue concerning the functioning and limitations of international organisations. The two students will take a confrontational approach and will thus argue strongly in favour or against the two opposing sets of considerations and arguments which constitute the dilemma.
Moreover, after the first 30 minutes during which the debate between the two students will take place, a negotiation process will start between two groups of students under the leadership of the two debaters . Each debater will instruct their team on how to partake in the negotiations process, during which the teams from each side will have to reach a consensus on some of the crucial matters discussed in the previous hour. This will result in a consensus paper, which will then be discussed by the class along with the experience of the discussion in the first hour.


The final mark for the course consists of three elements:

  • Participation in class discussions and negotiations : 10%

  • Presentation : 20%

  • Dilemma discussions: 20%

  • Final essay (3000 words): 30%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Each seminar has a selection of compulsory literature that must be read before the seminar it is assigned for. The selection of articles and chapters is deliberately chosen to provide a comprehensive and multi-faceted overview of the topic, and must therefore be read in its entirety. Students are encouraged to discuss the articles also with their fellow students, either in person or via Blackboard.

As this is a course focused on current events, the instructor also reserves the right to alter or add to the readings in order to be able to use present-day examples in the discussions of the weekly topics. These readings will be handed out in class or posted on Blackboard.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact