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Pros and Cons of Unilateralism

Unilateralism is a one-sided action. It is a process in which a nation can take unilateral actions without a look at the opinions of other nations.

Policies that are independent of consultation rather than mutually agreed or common actions based on national conception interest lead to unilateralism. A nation can make its own decisions, have alliances but doesn’t rely on the opinions of others.



1. Increases sovereignty: Unilateralism provides a nation with the freedom to act on its own without securing consent from other nations.

2. Faster actions: It results in faster actions. There will be clarity in the pursuit of national interests since no nations are involved in the negotiation of the action taken.

3. Results in the achievement of policy goals: A unilateral nation can achieve its foreign policy goals with the available resources without the need for international support.

4. Protection of national interest: When the state’s core interests are engaged, the leaders will not hesitate to take unilateral actions when an opportunity presents itself. This enables them to protect the interest of the nation.

5. Reduce competition: In unilateral free trade, a nation reduces import restrictions without considering the trade partners. This results in economic benefits in the nation and also reduces competition.

6. Power: Strong nations which are convinced of the righteousness of their cause, can act alone since they don’t need the unreliable goodwill of other nations. They have the ability to execute an action. The US had the military and technological capability to invade Iraq.

7. Lower tariffs: Unilateral domestic reforms may lead to a reduction of tariffs to make international investment easier. This attracts the needed capital and ability in the nation.

8. Protect domestic jobs: A country can take unilateral actions to create jobs and also protect domestic jobs by increasing import prices through tariffs.



1. Political cost: Unilateralism is selfish and illegitimate conduct and it damages the soft power of a nation especially if it was the largest contributor.

2. No strong relationship: Even though a country may have alliances with other countries, there will be no close relationship between the nations.

3. Results in isolation: Unilateralism leads to the isolation of a nation. This leaves the nation vulnerable.

4. Costly: The actions taken may lack credibility and effectiveness making them costly for the nation. The action may provoke a reaction.

5. Aggressive policy:
When a particular government acts on its own, it may come with aggressive policies which affect other nations like the Japanese invasion of China.

6. Ethical implications: Unilateralism may lead to conflicts with other nations as well as undermine international ability to protect smaller nations from aggressors.

7. Divided responsibility: Multilateralism can strengthen the bond between nations and people and promote peace but if a nation makes its single-sided action, it will result in divided responsibility. The nations won’t be able to cooperate with each other in undertaking global matters.

8. No support from the international community: A country that practices unilateralism lacks support from the international community since they don’t consider international perception in their actions. If a state can’t compromise to accommodate other states then other states will not be ready to support them.

9. Results to bigger problems: Some problems like terrorism are too big to be left for an individual nation; therefore, a nation taking its own actions may result in bigger problems.

10. Lack of diversity: Lack of obtaining perception from other nations may affect a nation’s creativity and diversity in various areas. Opinions of others can result in the generation of more ideas.

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