Polarity in international relations is any of the various ways in which power is distributed within the international system. It describes the nature of the international system at any given period of time. One generally distinguishes three types of systems: unipolarity, bipolarity, and multipolarity for three or more centers of power.[1] The type of system is completely dependent on the distribution of power and influence of states in a region or globally.

Scholars differ as to whether bipolarity or unipolarity is likely to produce the most stable and peaceful outcomes. Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer are among those who argue that bipolarity tends to generate relatively more stability,[2][3] whereas John Ikenberry and William Wohlforth are among those arguing for the stabilizing impact of unipolarity.[4][5] Some scholars, such as Karl Deutsch and J. David Singer, argued that multipolarity was the most stable structure.[6]