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Keene British Treaty Making West Africa XIXth

Keene British Treaty Making West Africa XIXth

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Published by Érika Melek

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International Organization Foundation
A Case Study of the Construction of International Hierarchy: British Treaty-Making againstthe Slave Trade in the Early Nineteenth CenturyAuthor(s): Edward KeeneSource:
International Organization,
Vol. 61, No. 2 (Spring, 2007), pp. 311-339Published by:
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ACaseStudyoftheConstructionofInternationalHierarchy:BritishTreaty-MakingAgainsttheSlaveTradeintheEarlyNineteenthCentury
Edward Keene
AbstractThis article evaluates different theories ofhierarchyininternationalrelationsthrougha casestudyof thetreaty systemthat the British constructedntheearlynineteenthcenturyinan effort to abolish the slave trade. Thetreaty systemwasextraordinarilywide-ranging:t embracedEuropeanmaritimepowers,newrepublicsintheAmericas,Muslim rulersinnorthernand easternAfrica,and "Native Chiefs"onthe westerncoast ofAfrica.It therefore allows for acomparativeanalysisof thevarioustypesoftreatythat the Britishmade,dependingon theidentityof their con-tracting partners.The articlearguesthat abroadlyconstructivistapproachprovidesthe bestexplanationofwhythesevariationsemerged.AlthoughBritishtreaty-makingwas influencedbythe relativestrengthor weakness of the states with whichtheyweredealing,the decisive factor thatshapedthetreaty systemwas a newlegaldoc-trinethat hademergedinthe lateeighteenth century,whichcombined apositivisttheoryof theimportanceoftreaties as asource of international awwithadistinc-tion between the"familyof civilized nations" and "barbarouseoples."
Despitetheprominenceof theconceptofanarchyninternational elationstheory,there have been severalattemptstoexplainhowhierarchicallystructuredystemsworkininternationalrelations,why theyrise andfall,why theytake onthespe-cific formsofstratification hattheydo,and what theirimpactis on broader nter-national outcomes such as war andpeace.Somerealists,forexample,arguethatinequalitiesinstates'capabilitieslead to theemergenceof "hierarchiesofpres-tige,"andthatgreatpowers playaspecialrolein direction ofinternationalaffairs,
Some oftheargumentsnthisarticle werepresentedto a seminar attheUniversityofChicago,andI amgratefulto members of the Political ScienceDepartmentthere forseveralvaluable constructivecriticisms.I would also like tothank DuncanBell,MollyCochran,SteveHopgood,AndyHurrell,KatjaWeber,and thejournal'stwoanonymousreadersfor theirhelpfulcomments on earlier drafts ofthe article.InternationalOrganization61,Spring2007,pp.311-339?2007byThe 10 Foundation.DOI:10.1017/S0020818307070117
 
312InternationalOrganizationoftenwith astabilizingeffect.'Institutionalistsbelievethatstatescreatehierarchi-calorganizationsto reducethe costs of their transactionsand to deal moreeffec-tivelywithexternalchallengesor threats: hehigherthe costs and themorepressingthethreat,the more restrictive thehierarchyslikelytobe.2Numerous other inter-national relations theorists-ahard-to-categorizegroupthat includesmembers oftheEnglishschool,poststructuralists,onstructivists,and historicalsociologists-havearguedthat internationalrelations do notonly operateaccordingto thesym-metrical identitiesfound in "cultures ofanarchy"butmayalso be founded onasymmetricalrelationshipsthat onemightcall"cultures ofhierarchy":relationsbetween suzerainsandvassals,empiresandclientstates,trustees andprotector-ates,superiorandinferiorraces,and so on.3Mypurposehere is to assess thesedifferentwaysofthinkingabout inter-nationalhierarchythroughacasestudyof thetreatysystemthat the British con-structedduringthe first half of the nineteenthcenturyaspartof their efforttoabolishthe slave trade. Thisparticularcase has been chosen becauseit offers anopportunityto see how theBritish conducted their internationalrelations with anunusuallywiderangeofpartnersuponasingleissue.Inordertosuppressboth thesupplyof and the demandforslaves,aswell as to deal with thirdpartiesinvolvedin thecarryingtrade,the Britishhad to make treaties with anextraordinarynum-ber andvarietyofstates,includingothergreat powers,such as Franceand theUnitedStates;weaker,and sometimesonly recently independent,maritimestatesinEuropeand theAmericas,suchasBrazil, Haiti,the HanseaticTowns,Portugal,andTuscany;"NativeChiefs"on the western coastofAfrica;"ArabChiefs"in thePersianGulf;and Muslimrulers ofprominentslave-tradingstates on the easterncoast ofAfrica,suchas theSultanofMuscat.4
1. On theidea of a"hierarchyofprestige,"seeGilpin1981;on the role ofgreat powers,see Clark1989.Most realistsimplicitly acceptthe existenceof some kindofhierarchyn international elationsby concentratingon the activities ofgreat powersat theexpenseof "middle"and "small"powers;onthistendencyin realistthought,seeHolbraad 1984.Peace researchersalsoarguethat inconsistenciesbetween statusand actualcapabilityare a cause ofconflict;seeWallace1973.2.Weber 2000stresses theimportanceof transaction coststo internationalhierarchy.Forrelatedapproachessee Milner1993,Lake 1996 and2003,andCooley2005.3. SeeWight1977;Bull andWatson1984;Gong1984;Der Derian1987;Onuf1989;Neumann andWelsh1991;Watson1992;Doty1996;Grovogui1996;Wendt andFriedheim1995;Buzan and Little2000;Keene2002;Salter2002;Bain2003;Dunne2003;Hobson and Sharman2005;andDonnelly2006. Onsymmetricaldentities(enemy,rival, friend)as the basis for "culturesofanarchy,"ee Wendt1999;and seealso Martin1992for aparallel analysisof the distinction betweensymmetricalandasymmetricalnterestsinrationalist nternationalrelationstheory.4. There isnosingle publishedcollection of all thetreaties.Hertslet1840is the mostcomprehen-sivepublishedsource;a setofpapers printedin1892for the use of the UnitedKingdom'sColonialOffice(CO 879/35)also contains arelativelyfullsetof the African treaties.There are numerous stud-ies of Britishtreaty-makingwith one or a few otherpowers(suchas Corwin1967;Bethell1970;Nwulia1975;Beachey1976;and Kielstra2000);Miers1975isthewidest-ranging survey,but evenshe looksonly brieflyat thewordingof the earlier African treaties. Grewe 2000isoutstandingoninternationalegalhistory duringtheperiod,but,forthe slavetrade,he concentratesalmost exclu-sivelyon the treatieswithEuropeanand Americanpowers.Otherlegalstudies-Fischer1950;andNandaand Bassiouni 1972-confinethemselves to a mere handful of themajor agreements.

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