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Technological Advancements and International Relations Research Paper


Several factors affect international relations, some of which are mainly internal, meaning that they reflect on the inner workings of individual countries including factors such as national trade policies and governance policies within the state. However, others are external hence borrowing from external forces such as the rate of globalization, international rules of interaction, and technological advancements.

Although numerous factors affect international relations in more obviously pronounced ways, technological innovations mostly play an indirect, but significant role in the conduct of international relations. The application and use of some of the technological advancements result in positive results on international relations among countries while others present negative results. In order to obtain an objective perspective of some of the essential elements, a selective case study of a few examples is necessary. For this paper, the devices of choice are the mobile phone and the Internet. The discussion mainly revolves around how their usage directly affects individuals, hence resulting in effects on international relations.

Impact of mobile phones and the internet on international relations

Mobile phones and the Internet have changed the manner in which countries conduct economic relations amongst them. In the nineteenth century, most of the international corporations across the world expanded their operations in various countries through the establishment of subsidiaries on the geographical market of their choice. At the time, this strategy was the only way to access markets in countries other than those in which the corporations had undergone incorporation. However, it is now possible for a business to access markets all over the world without having to be physically present on the geographical location.

The establishment of online stores has made it possible for small companies and large ones alike to compete on equal footing in terms of access to markets all over the world, without strenuous incorporations procedures that form part of the physical process of market access (Silverman 48). Although these prospects present numerous advantages to business owners worldwide, they also present a challenge for most governments in terms or regulation and control of the markets and revenue collection from the business owners. Most governments encourage foreign investment in their countries as it increases job opportunities for citizens and increases the potential for tax revenue collection.

However, with online businesses, it is possible for business owners to access markets in various countries without paying operational tax charges. For this reason, many governments across the world struggle with the challenge of formulating policies that govern online markets within their territories and protect citizens from losing money to fraudsters.

Another impact that the two devices have made on the international front is the creation of a necessity for strict intellectual property rights protection policies for countries across the world. It has become increasingly difficult for governments to combat intellectual property rights infringement due to the immense flow of information that takes place through mobiles phones and the Internet. Although the ease of access to information is an advantage to most Internet and mobile phone users, the discretion with which such information travels through the two media increases the level of difficulty for regulation of the same by governments.

Some countries have resulted to the creation of special taskforces that deal specifically with such issues. For instance, the United States government, through the Department of Homeland Security, established Operation Pangea V to deal with issues of counterfeit product distribution through the Internet. According to a report by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) on 5 January 2013, the task force seized 3.7 million doses of potentially counterfeit drugs set for distribution through the internet in 2011. The drugs were worth $10.5 million (Global Intellectual Property Center Para.13).

Such seizures have resulted in discussions amongst different governments on how to synchronize their policies so that they impose high levels of regulation as is the case between the US and China. This move shows the severity of some of the problems that the devices present on an international scale.

The main concept for the two devices is that they increase the ease at which information is accessible, including personal ideas on various issues in various regions. Although this aspect has resulted in the innovation of some positive projects such as the improvement of standards of living in third world countries, it also presents challenges in preventing the escalation of problems especially those of an intellectual nature.

An example for this element is the role that social media played in the escalation of the Arab Spring between the years 2010 and 2011, especially in North Africa. The Arab Spring was mainly characterized by uprisings in different states, which saw a few governments overthrown. Some of the countries where government depositions occurred include Tunisia 2011 and Algeria in 2012, and Egypt in 2011. Although the level at which social media escalated the problem is still a controversial issue among a majority of the people, it is irrefutable that such tools did in fact contribute to the escalation of the problem though messages that served to incite protestors on social media sites.

The result of activities was the creation of a need by most governments to create and control some form of social media censorship in their territories. China, for instance, has opted to limit access to social media by banning the use of Facebook within its territory. Although the move has been controversial with people arguing against its infringement of freedom of expression, it serves to prevent conspiracies, incitement, and control the infringement of intellectual property rights.

The devices have also had some positive impact on international relations in the political arena, as is the case with improvement of political participation for citizens in most countries (Rouke 74). The devices create an interactive platform where people from different countries share their experiences with their governments. The resultant effect is the increase of interest for people in the political affairs in their countries as well as how to address various issues that affect unique to their regions. For instance, the devices enable users in Africa and Asia to access projects in the US and Europe that may work better than those they currently possess. Access to information has raised the level at which citizens in Mozambique hold their government accountable, thus improving service delivery and policy implementation procedures from their government.

There has been a notable enhancement of cultural interaction by individuals across nations thanks to the Internet and mobile phones. The essence of such interaction on an international scale is the improvement of relations caused by better understanding of different cultures from all over the world. Understanding of cultural practices in various regions has enabled business people exploring new markets to fit into the new environment comfortably, thus increasing profitability for their businesses. A good example for this dynamic is the business environment in the Arab state of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is an oil rich region, but its citizen population was too low to provide substantial development to the region. A former leader, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, formulated policies that allowed expatriates to work in the nation regardless of their religious and cultural backgrounds as long as they did not interfere with the original culture of the indigenous inhabitants. Today, more than eighty percent of the general population comprises expatriates from different cultural backgrounds in comparison to the ten percent population of resident citizens (Federal Research Division 48).

The state is one of the most developed in the world due to its resources, including the large labor force from other countries. This aspect clearly indicates the advantages that understanding of other cultures present in an era where globalization is ever rapidly increasing.


Although the two technological innovations do not play a major role in international affairs, their usage at an individual level has collective effects on international relations across the globe. Some of the positive effects include a rise in political awareness and increase in global trade while negative impacts include, but are not limited to an increase in intellectual property rights infringements, increase in illicit trade activities, and enhancement of already existing problems such as incitement of protects in volatile environments.

Various governments have come up with ways of controlling and regulating the effects these innovations create while most find it a challenge, especially due to the discrete nature in which the innovations facilitate information transfer. Therefore, it is upon each government to formulate measures that best suit its system like the United States has done with the creation of Operation Pangea V.

Works Cited

Federal Research Division. United Arab Emirates: A Country Study, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Print.

Global Intellectual Property Centre: United States Chamber of Commerce 2013. Web.

Rouke, John. International Politics on the World Stage, New York: McGraw Hill, 2004. Print.

Silverman, David. Direct Access Futures: A Complete Guide to Trading Electronically, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2001. Print.

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