PROGRAMME: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
MATRIC NO: 09AH09247
COURSE CODE: IRL 324
LECTURER: DR SHERIFF FOLARIN
IN WHAT CONTEXT IS REGIONALISM THE APPROPRIATE FRAMEWORK IN POLITICAL ANALYSIS?
Historically, most states have been concerned primarily with the capabilities and intentions of their neighbors. This consequently consolidates one of the most striking facts about modern global political system – it is strongly organized on regional basis. Taking into consideration the current focus on globalization, many indicators of globalization (for example, trade, foreign direct investment, international institutions) are directed towards regional partners. For instance, in Western Europe, imports and exports increasingly have an origin and destination within the same area, and much the same can be said for North America and East Asia. Interdependence and interconnectedness are very salient and pervasive features in our world today. These two features have encouraged the rise and ascendancy of regionalism as a global phenomenon in world politics of contemporary times. Regional blocs have risen in scope (number) and diversity (areas covered) since the end of the Cold War era. Regionalism is a widespread phenomenon that transpires in almost every part of the world. Currently, almost every member of the World Trade Organization is a member of at least one such arrangement. Regions, like nations can be created and destroyed. Northeast Asia is more of a region today than it was thirty years ago, in large part due to the powerful role of Japan and South Korea in stimulating economic growth in the region (Choi and Caporaso, 2010: 480). |
In the conduct of political analysis, regionalism entails the comparison of one region to another, one state with another within a region or across regions. A region, according to Encarta Dictionaries can thus be defined: ‘as a large land area that has geographic, political or cultural characteristics that distinguish it from others, whether existing within one country or extending over several’. Just as with the system’s level of analysis, the focus of regionalism is on the actors that make up the system and the generalizations that can be made about them. Regionalism examines the same actors as the international level. The difference is while the regional level- comparing for example growth in Southeast Asia with growth in sub Saharan Africa- involves looking at specific states and non state actors in those specific regions; the international system level, emphasizes how the actors behave in the overall power structure (Duncan et al, 2006: 106). Comparing the combined economic and industrial capacity of states grouped as regions will affirm that although the current system may be unipolar with one super power, there is also a strong multi polar distribution of economic power across regions.
More so, a study of the international reach of regional organizations, such as NATO and the EU, may attempt to predict from the behavior of the most active regional Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) a general future pattern of regional IGO behavior. Regionalism helps us generalize about economic and political capacity across regions, the structure of power within a region and across regions, and the dynamics of regional IGOs and NGOs. Thus, as an appropriate framework in political analysis, the significance of regionalism cannot be overemphasis.
It is also apposite to note here that in recent times, the effectiveness of the sovereign state and the international level and their continued relevance as the appropriate framework for political analysis has been undoubtedly questioned. This is due to the fact that the scope of state sovereignty in a number of issue- areas like human rights, monetary and financial matters, and production is becoming substantially limited on the one hand. While on the international level, the scope may seem too wide to make relevant and...