It has to do with the extent to which states have developed efficient political institutions, a solid economic base and a substantial degree of national unity, that is, of popular unity and support for the State.
Some states, including large and small, are strong and capable organizations: they are strong states. Most states in the West are more or less like that. Some microstates of tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean are so small that they can barely afford to have a government at all. Other states may be quite large in terms of territory or population or both, Sudan or the Congo (formerly Zaire), but they are so poor, so inefficient and so corrupt that they can hardly continue as effective government
One of the most important conditions that sheds light on the existence of so many quasi-states is that of economic underdevelopment. Their poverty and the consequent short ages of investment, infrastructure (roads, schools, hospitals, etc.),
. The weakness of these states is a reflection of their poverty and technological backwardness, and as long as these conditions persist, their inca capacity as states is also likely to persist. This profoundly affects the nature of the state system and also, therefore, the nature of our IR theories.
Why study IR? A clear example is technological innovation, which has deeply shaped international relations from the beginning and continues to configure it in significant ways that are never entirely predictable. Economically, the underdeveloped countries in the peripheries, which have limited political and economic influence. People often expect states to maintain certain key values: security, freedom, order, justice and well-being. The IR theory has a great interest in the way in which states assure these values or not.
In summary, the states interact in accordance with the norms of reciprocity. The liberal tradition in IR is based on the idea that the modern state in that silent and routine way makes a strategic contribution to international freedom and progress.
Robert H. Jackson, (2013) Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press
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