Ethics and International Relations (IR), once considered along the margins of the IR field, has emerged as one of the most eclectic and interdisciplinary research areas today. Yet the same diversity that enriches this field also makes it a difficult one to characterize. Is it, or should it only be, the social-scientific pursuit of explaining and understanding how ethics influences the behaviours of actors in international relations? Or, should it be a field characterized by what the world should be like, based on philosophical, normative and policy-based arguments? This Handbook suggests that it can actually be both, as the contributions contained therein demonstrate how those two conceptions of Ethics and International Relations are inherently linked.

Seeking to both provide an overview of the field and to drive debates forward, this Handbook is framed by an opening chapter providing a concise and accessible overview of the complex history of the field of Ethics and IR, and a conclusion that discusses how the field may progress in the future and what subjects are likely to rise to prominence. Within are 44 distinct and original contributions from scholars teaching and researching in the field, which are structured around 8 key thematic sections:

  • Philosophical Resources
  • International Relations Theory
  • Religious Traditions
  • International Security and Just War
  • Justice, Rights and Global Governance
  • International Intervention
  • Global Economics
  • Environment, Health and Migration

Drawing together a diverse range of scholars, the Routledge Handbook of Ethics and International Relations provides a cutting-edge overview of the field by bringing together these eclectic, albeit dynamic, themes and topics. It will be an essential resource for students and scholars alike.

chapter |6 pages


Ethics and international relations An evolving conversation

part I|69 pages

Philosophical Foundations

chapter 3|11 pages

Global egalitarianism

Cosmopolitanism and statism 1

chapter 5|13 pages

Constructing realities in international politics

Latin American views on the construction and implementation of the international norm Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

part II|81 pages

International relations theory

chapter |9 pages

International relations theory

what place for ethics?

chapter 7|14 pages

Hunting the state of nature

Race and ethics in postcolonial international relations 1

chapter 9|16 pages

Truth and power, uncertainty and catastrophe

Ethics in international relations realism

chapter 11|12 pages

Critical international ethics

Knowing/acting differently

part III|73 pages

International security and just war

part IV|52 pages

Justice, rights and global governance

chapter |4 pages

Ethics and institutions

chapter 17|11 pages

Historical context

chapter 18|12 pages


Constitution and critique

chapter 19|13 pages

The ethical terrain of international human rights

From invoking dignity to practising recognition

chapter 20|10 pages

International law and ethics

part V|54 pages

International intervention

chapter 21|10 pages

Historical thinking about human protection

Insights from Vattel

chapter 23|12 pages

The Responsibility to Protect

The evolution of a hollow norm

part VI|66 pages

Environment, health and migration: the ethics of vulnerability

part VII|75 pages

Ethics and the global economy

chapter 29|14 pages

The ethics of alternative finance

Governing, resisting, and rethinking the limits of finance

chapter 30|14 pages

Decolonial global justice

A critique of the ethics of the global economy

chapter 32|18 pages

Biofuels and the ethics of global governance

Experimentalism, disagreement, politics

part VIII|78 pages

Religion and international ethics