Wednesday, 17 June 2020

MA International Relations Postgraduate Study Trip by Morgan Kelly Wines Phillips

The January study trip to Brussels and the Hague was a large reason why I decided to attend Oxford Brookes University. Since I recently graduated with a Bachelors in Political Science and European Union Area Studies, I was very excited by the thought of going to some of the world’s most important and influential institutions when it comes to International Relations. When our lecturer, Lucy Ford, announced that this year we would be the first to visit NATO in Brussels, I became even more enthusiastic about the trip.

During the four days in Brussels and the Hague, we visited the International Criminal Court, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the DG for Migration within the European Commission, the European Parliament, and NATO. All of these organizations focus on various aspects of International Relations, such as international law, politics, military, migration, and economics/trade. Each meeting brought forward various experts within their respective fields, new and fascinating talks, and a sense of awe. 

Although these organizations all focus on different and essential aspects of International Relations, they all discussed their reliance on the trust and cooperation between the member states and how those virtues are essential to conducting their duties. The representatives of the OPCW and NATO specifically stated that the trust between their organizations and the 193 or 29 members, respectively, is vital. The OPCW trusts that each member has destroyed or is in the process of destroying any chemical weapons within their possession, whereas, NATO trusts that each member state will provide any resources necessary when the time comes, especially if Article V is enacted.

The OPCW and NATO are not the only organizations that rely on trust to operate. The ICC relies on the cooperation of its member states, and sometimes others, to help conduct investigations against defendants, arrest those who violate international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and even help staff the organization itself. It relies on its member states to be able to enact the ICC’s mandate in maintaining international order, International Human Rights Law, and International Humanitarian Law. Without trust and cooperation, the ICC would be ineffective and unable to follow its mandate. 

The European Commission and the European Parliament also depend on trust to conduct their individual duties. The DG on Migration within and into the EU is dependent on every member and some non-members to help take in as many refugees as they can and help integrate them until it is safe to return to their home nation(s). The level of trust and cooperation needed for these highly sensitive cases is very high because it has to follow through successfully without harming or putting the refugees or asylum seekers in danger. The European Parliament also needs high levels of trust and cooperation to be able to create and agree on policies that have the best interests of every state in mind. The MEPs are not just fighting for the opinions and interests of their constituents in their hometowns but also their individual nations and the rest of the EU. The decisions of the MEPs allows the EU to grow and change for the better.

The field of International Relations is extremely dependent on allies and positive relationships between nations. It is how policies are created, laws are upheld, economies boom, and peace endures. Without trust and cooperation organizations like the International Criminal Court, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, NATO, the European Commission, and the European Parliament, will be unable to operate under their given mandates and International Relations may not be feasible. I loved meeting with every representative who took time out of their busy schedules to educate us about their specific organization, their respective roles within the organizations, and what they have learned during their tenure. It taught me that it is crucial to find ways to cooperate with various states in a range of issues from migration to trade and from law to military means. The trust and cooperation these organizations experience is what allows them to continue to ensure peace, stability, and economic and/or political success on a global level. It was amazing to learn about it firsthand, and it has fostered my wish to work within the discipline of International Relations.

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