Theoretical Analysis of the Relations between Regional System and Foreign Policy

Document Type : Original Article


1 Full Professor of International Relations, Allameh Tabataba’i Univeristy, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD Student of International Relations, Allameh Tabataba’i Univeristy, Tehran, Iran


Foreign Policy is a comprehensive plan developed by states to interact with external
environment. The type and the nature of the interactions between foreign policy and the
external environment is a key issue to understand both of them. In this article, it is argued
that regional system is one of the most important features of the external environment, which
doesn’t have one-dimensional relations with foreign policy; it means, on one hand, foreign
policy impacts on the nature and quality of interactions within the regional system, on the
other hand, the regional system and its components act as an independent variable in defining
and drawing the goals and priorities of foreign policy. In other words, Foreign policy and
regional system define each other, mutually.
This article, utilizing Institutional as well as explanatory methods, seeks to demonstrate that
how the foreign policy of the main actors of a region as an institution, define another
institution called regional system, and the constructed regional system how impacts on the
defining, planning and execution of foreign policies of the main actors.
Finding of the article would be discusses under these umbrella topics:
- Defining Regional system and its components;
- The type of the relations between regional systems and macro structure of the
International System;
The relations between Regional system and Foreign Policy.

Due to the relative independence of the regional system, after the dissolution on the USSR
and the end of the cold war, from the macro structure of International system, it is possible
to examine its relations with other issues such as Foreign policy. In the current article, it is
demonstrated that after the Cold War, because of the lack of capabilities, most of the states
are trying to define their foreign policies according to their corresponding regional system.
This situation has enabled the main actors of each regional system to play a crucial role in
defining the regional system. On the other hand, it is argued that after construction, the
regional systems are not fully obedient of the main actors and act as an independent factor
imposing some requirements to the states’ foreign policies.