International Organization

Articles

Reciprocity in international relations

Robert O. Keohane

World politics is commonly referred to as anarchic, meaning that it lacks a common government. Yet a Hobbesian “war of all against all” does not usually ensue: even sovereign governments that recognize no common authority may engage in limited cooperation. The anarchic structure of world politics does mean, however, that the achievement of cooperation can depend neither on deference to hierarchical authority nor on centralized enforcement. On the contrary, if cooperation is to emerge, whatever produces it must be consistent with the principles of sovereignty and self-help.