International Political Systems: Sumerian City-States

Why do I believe that there is an International Political System? First, I will discuss the interaction between Sumerian city-states that is divided by the river of Tigris and Euphrates, that now forms a modern Iraq[1], why these Sumerian city-states? Because I want to prove that there is an International Political Systems during that time, don’t get me wrong in this subject, I want you to feel you’re in these said ages to be in their position, hence this will be your roots, because if you will compare it with the International Political Systems nowadays a huge confusion may subdue.

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Second, because of the thirty years of war north western Germany think of a treaty that will stop this war and this is the Treaty of Westphalia.

The last but not the least, the current situation of International Political System in this era and I will pick United Nations or (U.N) to be the based model of these current International Political Systems. I will cover different laws from the United Nations to prove my claim, these are United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Seas or (UNCLOS), second the Human Rights were play a huge role with the countries under the United Nations.

Different theories has been made, different mainstream state have earned the title ‘where does International Political System began’ but we all know already that the legitimate birth of International Political System is the time that the treaty of Westphalia began[2], but here in my argument, I shall say that it’s the interaction between Sumerian city-states where International Political System was really born. They don’t know it yet that they are doing such thing, but I in my research, I will prove that what they are doing is International Political System which is use until now.

“Interaction between Sumerian City-States”

Tigris and Euphrates are much known because of the river that separates them but it connects these Sumerian City-States. These are considered to have been a fully-fledged International System, because these Sumerian city-states have already an existing religion, trade, interaction, language, educational system, laws and leaders.

They look up to their God as the Supreme leader and by that all of his or her people are subject to follow what their God wants, meaning being the Supreme (God and Goddesses) leader they must follow what laws He or She has made, for example their Gods or Goddesses are represented by natural entities such as the Sun interconnected with Justice and considered as the God Sun, He is God called ‘UTU’, Moon interconnected to Wisdom and their God Moon, She is called God ‘Nanna’ or ‘Suen’, and Earth connected to Life Force, several centuries before Hammurabi, Ur-Engur of the Ur dynasty (c. 2600 BC) declared that he rendered decisions “according to the just laws of Shamash.”[3] This reference of their Gods and Goddesses only makes my claim more evident. Even their God Ur-Engur has a law for the people to abide with, and by abiding such rule a state will be more powerful in terms of the law that is implemented to the people, and the people who happens to obey it diligently or faithfully from generation to generation which made the law effective and refrain the citizenry to do whatever they want if it was not in accordance to the existing laws that had been created by their Gods and Goddesses they believe in long before they were born.

The law their Gods and Goddesses has created, local laws have been extended to other city-states they dealt with, unconsciously they are already leading to an international law practice which were recognized, obeyed, respected and put into practice by both parties or city-states involved. These sectors of analysis are ingredient of an international system, hence this is international political system, because in those times, they’re knowledge about the world is their only city-state and treating other people outside their city-state as barbarians or inferior as compared to themselves, (ex. The Greek city-states even if they know that different states exist, they consider them as barbarians and these barbarians don’t contribute in the human populace much worst are even considered as uncivilized or unworthy people) so what I’m saying is that this exist as an International Political System using their own norm or gauge. Hence in this era International Political System in the Sumerian city-state for them is the best and the only one known to be followed by their citizenry and if they want to deal with the Sumerians it is mandatory for them to follow what the existing rules the Sumerians are using or following faithfully. In this case we could vividly see the influence of a very strong centralized government. Whatever the central government or the city-state of Sumerian is practicing, it has to be followed by the others having that principle that these laws were created by a Supreme Being (God or Goddesses) which includes issues regarding policies in their political, military, societal, and economic norms and other areas.

These standards already exist in this city-states, but as time goes by, these norms changes, because ‘change is nature’ hence if the nature is to change, when the modern times comes, these norms became more complex hence adds more norms to become an International Political System. Change in environment such as geographical features which includes boundaries, natural and manmade, resources which needs to be modified or altered to be able to catch up to the new ideas and development of new trends in the International Political Systems. That’s why I add this Sumerian city-states because this is the real cycle that goes with the ever changing and ever growing International Political System.

Because of the mainstream approach of Westphalia in the same context the title was given to them, and gave the title that the year Westphalia created was the real birth of International Political System which is a big fallacy. Why did I conclude so? It is because the treaty of Westphalia happened not just long ago it was exactly on October 24th 1648[4]. When the treaty of Westphalia was ratified or take into effect as a law so many events or major happenings had been recorded to had happened +which paved the way for the creation of a treaty that will not gave a birth but modified to adapt with the current needs and issues to be resolve even if the title was given for the Sumerian city-state was a ‘Pre-international System’ I will consider them an international political system, as part in my introduction said, the perspective point of view must be only in the Sumerian age, that’s why I arranged them according to the years where they exist so there will be a smooth flow of ideas, and one goal to justify if we had an international political system.

In these Sumerian city-states trade is also present, because of the creation of first calendar, which they adjusted to the phases of the moon. The lunar calendar helped the Greeks, Semites and Egyptians, because of this, it helped a lot of Sumerian City-States to interact with each other thus helping their economy to boost up leading to the growth of merchant class[5], did you know that they are very good navigators because of the calendar they made. They know exactly where they are going because of the stars in the sky, were that star will serve as a guide for every people of the city that will trade from other cities, that’s why when they created the first ever calendar which adjusted the phases of the moon it helped them a lot.[6][7]

Talking about trade, it helped to increase the interaction between these Sumerian city-states by simple talking to each other, of course the need of language is in need, and the language these times are divided into four: first is Archaic Sumerian, second is Old or Classical Sumerian, third is New Sumerian, last but not the least Post-Sumerian. These language had their own time at the existence of Sumerian city-states, Archaic Sumerian covered the period from 3100 B.C, when the first Sumerian wrote their very first documentary or records, down to about 2500 B.C, the content of writings in this time include business and administrative character, there is still school texts that form simple exercises in writing because this age of language was poorly understood because of the meagerness sources. Second the Old or Classical Sumerian lasted from 2500 to 2300 B.C, represented by the record of Lagash like in the first there is business, administrative texts here, but an addition is a legal text, in here the grammar of Sumerian improved and their vocabulary.[8]

It is very evident that once trade exists in between any country or countries, influx not only of money but most of all ideas, culture, laws, and even intermarriage will follow. So I strongly believe that International Political System has long been existing and put into practice even before the idea of the said system was said to be introduced.

“Treaty of Westphalia”

This said to be the legitimate year were International Political System was created the birth year of International Political System, why is it that this the legitimate one? Why is it that the interaction of Tigris and Euphrates was not the legitimate one? Because as said by Richard Little and Barry Buzan the point of being a western country we cannot accept the fact that they are the ones who are the elitist and they’re mind set of being Ethnocentrism, meaning they are the only ones who had think of these ideas that can be seen it the modern and early ages, being the elitist they are the ones who got the title of the work done, and by telling the story of their forefathers other early International Political System is discarded on the list, hence giving the title of the first legitimate International Political System to the Treaty of Westphalia.

Treaty of Westphalia was created for the Europeans, because of the thirty years war that was motivated by religious and political control all over Europe. And because of this thirty years of war countless man, child and women had died, it even overcome the deaths that has been made in World War I and World War II, it said to believe that one-third of the population died in result of the war, because of these people dying every day for the past thirty years. And because of the Treaty of Westphalia it was ratified with the concurrence of the state’s present whom to themselves considered as the elite and civilized one, which all must follow. This treaty is the first manifestation that they are creating an International Political System, this law is the law of war a doctrine concerning when it is permissible to go to war and what means of conducting war are (and are not) permissible, meaning that they cannot go to war anymore because of this said treaty, hence they already know that this war has been going for the past thirty years. If this will continue all that will be left to them are bones of their fallen comrades, which is not healthy to a state because man is the integral part and without man a state cannot exist.

As history has proven the root cause of the thirty years of war was the tug of war in between the protestants and Catholics who both claims that their religion is the best and the truth. The influence of these leaders namely the clergies or priests in the catholic side and ministers or pastors on the protestant side greatly affected the citizenry because their decisions and allegiance is determined by the religion they belong too. Much of these situation political leaders also relies and asks for the nod or approval of the strong religious leader for them to get the majority back-up of the nations or states. So you could clearly see how it did affect the whole state. The unimaginable result of the thirty years of war paved the way for the birth of Treaty of Westphalia but definitely not the birth of International Political System.

‘Current Situations of the World’s Systems’

United Nations (UN) is an example of current International Political Systems, which facilitates all its constituents, for example: Philippines, China, Japan, United States, and many more different states. This serve as an international political system because first, it is recognize globally by member countries. Leaders of the different department of the United Nations such as World Health Organization (WHO), United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Labor Organization (ILO)[9] and other departments are selected from the most respectable and able man whose integrity are doubtless. Military or (peace keeping forces), Political, Economic, Societal and Environmental, which are commonly known as sectors of analysis are all present in the United Nation. At far it is concern with the peace among the states, development, human rights, and International Law. Because member states are the ones who will judge if the merit of claims of one state to another if there is a conflict, United Nations will make a resolution against these conflicts, that’s why they are present when there is a war problem inside state for example Libya, they send peace keeping forces or military forces that got from its constituent states, even in Environmental disaster, they are there to help the people of their constituent states.

Human Rights a philosophical foundation[10], (covered societal interaction), as stated they are simply by virtue of human being against war that’s why peace is more rampant, ironically Human Rights were made after World War II in connection with the Holocaust, the experience of Nuremberg tribunal convinced leaders of the need to set forth international standards to prevent genocide from ever occurring again. Human rights is where they create laws that will served as a shield by every single person of a state and it will at most prevent wars and unhumanitarian acts whether it’s a girl, children or man, moreover this human right law is by far the greatest law the United Nation has made. United Nation’s goal of developing existing laws to cope with changes and prevention of possible war, talking about state to state wars, why say that? Because after the human right law has been implemented, the rights of the people were seen nowadays, they cannot kill people because they just want it to, hence they cannot kill because of their opposite religious beliefs, and lastly you cannot kill people anymore regardless what nationality they are, or else great consequences will be used against you if ever you will do such crime. Racism is vehemently trashed.

But a rebuttal here is Libya, Iraq, and Syria in this time is in a great war against, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as we can see this is not a state to state war because war is present inside the state. Ironically the above mentioned states are all members of the United Nations but they do not adhere to the principle of peace, humanity and unity among member states. Even though they have violated international rules still the United Nations tries its best to pacify the situation. As a proof of this our very own Philippines, as a member of the United Nations send troops to this country therefore in this context military is present in United Nations, because as a member of this organization we must share our resources, help in any possible means such as medical aid, medical force and even peace keeping forces.

Just like other countries doing to the Philippines when it comes to natural calamities and disaster, even the People’s Republic of China disregarded the conflict in West Philippine Sea they still send troops here to help, foods and other things which they think may help a lot the typhoon victim which happened to be the strongest recorded typhoon in the world. It is a manifestation that China recognizes his membership in the United Nation and since the Philippines is a member state of the United Nation it is a good sign that China has the initiative and good intention to help us in spite of all the odds that they are having with the Philippines.

Second best example I can give is the Philippines and China in connection with the West Philippine Sea, United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Seas (UNCLOS) this is a compulsory procedures for dispute resolution among state parties, this process have the right to choose either they’re case is going to International Tribunal for the Law Of the Sea (ITLOS), International Court of Justice (ICJ), Arbitral Tribunal, and last but not the least special technical arbitral tribunal. Why apply the provisions of UNCLOS and United Nations If there is still conflict? Because United Nation was established for peace and to avoid World War I or World War II or such things to happened again. Because in a war nobody wins, yes they might say that they win, but literally in war, millions of lives is lost. The United Nations’ ultimate goal is to prevent wars; hence with the help of human rights, it serves to be an important term to prevent World War III because when World War I and World War II happened, there is still no concrete data on human rights. Nowadays member states or nonmember states think of the consequences if they will violate human right laws. They know that even after the incident they will be persecuted by the international community through economic sanction, persona non grata and other international recognized form of disconformity.

Another good example is the International Labor Organization (ILO)[11]. Because of the creation of the International Law Organization member states are very keen in implementing rules regarding labor practices. International accredited systems regarding the way they treat local and foreign laborers are always given importance.

The major role of an employee, laborer or any manpower is always given top priority in any countries. The welfare, salary and other related activities or benefits of the working force are in compliance with accepted rules and systems.

International Political System as I viewed it is almost the same with any other system. It was made and pursued by respectable men whose goal is to have an orderly, respectful and effective way of life. We may be different in language, physical attributes, values, culture, religion, educational background and other things that makes a human different from an animal but for sure we the majority of the people would like to live in an atmosphere of peace, unity and love.

I would like to thank people who intimated these systems, for they had helped a lot the succeeding generations on what they have done. Not only the philosophical leaders but most especially the unwritten leaders of the past who may not have been mentioned in any document or book but for sure contributed a lot on who and where we are now. They may have made mistakes or imperfections but that’s the reality of life no one is perfect. Our life is a continuous trial and error with the guiding principle of being of help to his people and committed to make this world a better life and place to live with.


Buzan, B., & Little , R. (2000). International Systems in World History. New York: Oxford University Press.

D’Anieri, P. (2014). International Politics: Power and Purpose in Global Affairs. canada: Cenage learning.

Guisepi, R. A. (1980 and 2003). The History of Ancient Sumeria. Retrieved September 1, 2014, from The History of Ancient Sumeria:


Sumerian Gods. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2014, from Sumerian Gods:

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