Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Bilateralism refers to any relationship between two parties. In the study of international relations, we normally think of bilateralism as referring to relations between two states. But this is an overly narrow definition. Bilateralism can denote an arrangement between two private companies—economists, for instance, write of a “bilateral monopoly” where there is effectively only one seller and one purchaser in a market. Alternatively, bilateralism can involve two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), two intergovernmental organizations, or any two-party combination of these actors (including states). For instance, a bilateral agreement is negotiated when an intergovernmental organization, such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), commissions a local NGO to manage a project for it. The term bilateralism is also used to refer to a strategy of how relations are conducted; it denotes an approach that prioritizes reaching agreement with one other party rather than acting by oneself (unilateralism) or together with two The ...