Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 197

197 Arctic Yearbook 2015 International parliamentary institutions in contemporary international relations Among the many signs of change in the modern-day international community, it is useful to highlight the gradual structural bifurcation in levels of governance. In other words, international relations today are a stage where two worlds coexist or even overlap – one state-centric, the other composed of transnational actors (Pietraś 2009). As Pietraś suggests, “Although both ‘worlds’ are integral components of the same international reality, there are many distinctive qualities that characterize each of them, underlining the structural hybridity of entities in the international realm” (Pietraś 2009: 32). This hybridity, coupled with ever more intensive transboundary relations, redefines and restructures interactions between states, ‘imposing’ and accelerating the development of mechanisms governing the international arena (Pietraś 2007). Some interesting consequences of this evolution include an increasingly ‘saturated’ international political scene and a progressive blurring of boundaries and borders, of differences between the intrastate and the interstate domain (Łoś-Nowak 2013: 49). Furthermore, Surmacz indicates that “a change in the distribution of power in international relations [resulting from the aforementioned processes] has resulted in parallel changes in the diplomatic realm,” which in turn has led to “the modern diplomatic community [becoming] akin to a series of interactions among both state and non-state actors representing interests that are organized both territorially and non-territorially, implementing both official and unofficial forms of diplomacy” (Surmacz 2013: 9). One example of this relatively new situation is the increasingly dynamic expansion of the international dimension in the activities of different national parliaments (Torbiörn 2007; Puzyna 2007), which Florczak-Wątor and Czarny believe has made “international cooperation input from parliaments a common phenomenon in the world today” (Florczak-Wątor, Czarny 2012: 45). The goal of this part of the paper is to synthesize fundamental conceptual approaches surrounding this modern-day development trend in international relations, highlight its versatility, and especially move toward a clearer notion of the processes behind the creation and operation of interparliamentary institutions. Before delving into the structural characteristics of the international community that underlie the growing involvement of legislative bodies in creating foreign policy, it bears establishing that “a parliament is a … body organized under a state that is a legitimate subject of international law and, as such, engages in international legal relations with other similar subjects” (Florczak-Wątor, Czarny 2012: 45). While this formulation could be considered a response to any potential questions as to the legitimacy and legal foundations for such activity on the part of parliamentarians, it is at once only a starting point for further clarifying discussion. Jaskiernia, for instance, asks, “How do we treat these activities of representatives of national legislatures in the realm of foreign affairs – as instances of ‘parliamentary diplomacy’ or beyond?” (Jaskiernia 2013: 166). In pursuing the answer to this question it is worth noting at the outset that, for several decades now (though the specifics vary by country), “parliaments no longer limit themselves to making foreign policy, but also expand into executing it” (Florczak-Wątor & Czarny 2012: 45; Malamud & Stavridis 2011). As far as the extent of control over this area of policymaking is concerned, the clout and capacity of national parliaments have indeed increased. Łuszczuk