Amrita Narlikar / Daniel Drezner

International relations: the ‘how not to’ guide – Introduction to the International Affairs centenary special issue

  • Abstract

    In the century of International Affairs' existence, there have been a lot of catastrophic critical junctures when a different policy decision, underpinned by an alternative epistemic framing, might have led to a more peaceful and prosperous world. In this special issue, we consider the well-intentioned efforts of humanity over the past century that turned out badly. Much of foreign policy analysis seeks to replicate successes; we humbly ask whether it might make more sense to examine how to avoid disastrous failure. In this introductory article we develop a concrete definition of policy failure and provide a motivation for why the study of failures is relevant for the coming century. We suggest a Hippocratic Oath for policy-minded scholars, and advance guidelines to help go beyond Barack Obama's ‘Don't do stupid shit’ injunction and also guard against potential policy paralysis. Finally, we offer conclusions derived from the other articles in this special issue that are relevant for both the study and practice of international relations. Armed with these insights, practitioners—and the researchers who advise them—may stand a better chance of avoiding some of the worst pitfalls of international relations; occasionally, together, we may even get some things right.


    International Affairs







    Prof. Dr. Daniel W. Drezner

    The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

    Speaker | 10/03/2023

    Isolation in International Relations

    University of Cambridge Cambridge: 10/03/2023

    The President of GIGA and Honorary Fellow of Darwin College, Prof. Amrita Narlikar, will give a lecture on interconnectedness and isolationism in international relations and their implications for research and policy as part of the Darwin College Lecture Series.

    Consultant, Panelist, Consultant | 21/09/2022

    How NOT to Do Foreign Policy

    Cooperation Event London or online: 21/09/2022 Organisers: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Chatham House, International Affairs (Journal)

    For the launch of the International Affairs Centenary special issue “International relations: the ‘how not to’ guide”, Chatham House invites for a discussion with Prof. Drezner, Prof. Narlikar, and Prof. Rosoux on how policymakers and researchers can learn from the worst pitfalls.

    Prof. Dr. Daniel W. Drezner

    Prof. Dr. Valérie Rosoux

    International Affairs | 09/2022

    How not to negotiate: the case of trade multilateralism

    The WTO has become an almost perfect example of how not to negotiate. In this article, GIGA President Prof. Narlikar identifies three broad categories of bargaining failures and explores the impact of narratives on the course of events, giving us a clear list of dos and don’ts for international negotiation.


    Sign up to receive email notifications about GIGA activities

    Social Media

    Follow us