Friendship among nations

History of a concept

Author: Evgeny Roshchin

This book is about friendship between sovereign political agents, whose role in the modern world is performed by states. It focuses on relations of friendship that bind together whole polities. Apart from bilateral friendships, the world has seen multiple attempts to posit friendship as the true foundation of a properly organised international community. The attempts range from the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through Churches, to the United Nations Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States. There are two basic roles that friendship can play in the discourses on international relations. The first is as an anthropomorphic metaphor for the relations between states. The second functions as a constituent part of a normative argument seeking a change in international relations. The book highlights common ways in which classical literature uses the concept of friendship in the context of relations with foreign powers. David Ramsay references to 'the ties of ancient friendship' as an important gesture in communication with native Americans. The ethical concept of political friendship is never strictly separated from the performance of political roles. Samuel Pufendorf's description of commonwealths as moral persons stirred up intense debate over how to conceive the sum of such artificial persons and the relations between them. Finally, the book talks about normative and 'naturalist' consensual understanding by scrutinising the justificatory functions of friendship in diplomatic agreements.

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‘Friendship among Nations makes an original contribution to the study of a neglected and crucial concept in the formation and consolidation of international society from ancient to modern times, shedding new light onto a central question for the study of political languages: why is it that certain notions have become hegemonic and have displaced others?’
Contributions to the History of Concepts
August 2020

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