International Studies: Explaining the Resurgence of Regionalism in World Politics

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Review of International Studies (1995), 21, 331-358

Printed in Great Britain

Explaining the resurgence of regionalism in
world politics*

The past decade has witnessed a resurgence of regionalism in world politics. Old regionalist organizations have been revived, new organizations formed, and regionalism and the call for strengthened regionalist arrangements have been central to many of the debates about the nature of the post-Cold War international order.1 The number, scope and diversity of regionalist schemes have grown significantly since the last major 'regionalist wave' in the 1960s.2 Writing towards the end of this earlier regionalist wave, Joseph Nye could point to two major classes of regionalist activity: on the one hand, micro-economic organizations involving formal economic integration and characterized by formal institutional structures; and on the other, macro-regional political organizations concerned with controlling conflict.3 Today, in the political field, regional dinosaurs such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of American States (OAS) have re-emerged. They have been joined both by a large number of aspiring micro-regional bodies (such as the Visegrad Pact and the Pentagonale in central Europe; the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Middle East; ECOWAS and possibly a revived Southern African Development Community (SADC, formerly * This article draws (with permission) on material in Louise Fawcett and Andrew Hurrell (eds.), Regionalism in World Politics (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming 1995). The author would like to thank Louise Fawcett, Ngaire Woods, William Wallace, Andrew Wyatt-Walter, Robert O'Brien and the journal's referees for their helpful comments.

For many analysts trends towards regionalism are well established. Dominick Salvatore, for example, believes that 'the world has already and probably irreversibly moved into an international trade order characterized by three major trading blocs': Dominick Salvatore, 'Protectionism and World Welfare: Introduction', in Salvatore (ed.), Protectionism and World Welfare (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), p. 10. Peter Drucker believes that the demands of what he calls the 'knowledge economy' 'makes regionalism both inevitable and irreversible': Peter F. Drucker, Post-Capitalist Society ( London: Butterworth Heinemann, 1993), p. 137. Aaron Friedberg argues that 'recent rhetoric notwithstanding, the dominant trend in world politics today is towards regionalization rather than globalization, toward fragmentation rather than unification': Aaron L. Friedberg, 'Ripe for Rivalry. Prospects for Peace in a Multipolar Asia', International Security, 18, 3 (Winter 1993/94), p. 5. See also W. W. Rostow, 'The Coming Age of Regionalism', Encounter, 74, 5 (June 1990); Richard Rosecrance, 'Regionalism and the Post-Cold War Era', International Journal, 46 (Summer 1991); and Kenichi Ohmae, 'The Rise of the Region State', Foreign Affairs (Spring 1991). 2

For quantitative data on increased involvement in regional organizations in the 1980s see Paul Taylor, International Organization in the Modern World. The Regional and Global Process ( London: Pinter, 1993), pp. 24-8.

Joseph S. Nye, Peace in Parts: Integration and Conflict in Regional Organizations (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1971).



Andrew Hurrell

SADCC) led by post-apartheid South Africa in Africa), and by loosely institutionalized meso-regional security groupings such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE) and more recently the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In the economic field, micro-regional schemes for economic cooperation or integration (such as the Southern Cone Common Market, Mercosur, the Andean Pact, the Central American Common Market (CACM) and CARICOM in the Americas; the attempts to expand economic integration within ASEAN; and the proliferation of free trade areas throughout...
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