Role of Regionalism in International Governance
Regionalism plays an important role in international governance particularly when it comes to economic and political interventions aimed at benefiting member states. Regionalism refers to a high degree of cooperation and collaboration between states, which have a common interest or are brought together by virtue of belonging to the same geographical setting. Contemporary international relations are shaped by a high degree of interdependentness between countries. This interdependentness is necessitated by the fact that, countries need each other and no single country can meet its needs without involving other countries.
Even the most developed countries need other countries for markets of their industrial products. In addition, the developed countries need the cooperation of other countries so as to have logistical advantage, which facilitate routing of cargo such as raw materials for local industries or naval war ships. Regionalism therefore, is not limited to economic terms only but also regionalism plays an important role in military campaigns especially where a country gets into war with another and needs to access international waters in order to effectively execute attacks.
From the above discussion, it becomes clear that the role of regionalism is diverse and complex considering the fact that, there are some limitations, which face regionalization efforts. Of all roles that regional organizations play, perhaps none is as important and crucial as trans-national trade. Taking the example of the European Union, the Union has realized many benefits for its members in terms of business. By opening up hitherto closed markets the European Union has created more markets for goods originating from member states .
This has helped in a great way to benefit manufacturers who before the establishment of the European Union and particularly the integration of the European Union faced numerous challenges in accessing markets for their goods. Regionalism as demonstrated by the case of European Union is very beneficial to workers. This is because regionalism provides for an opportunity for laws, which are recognized by members of a given regional union to govern labor standards. The advantage of regional labor unions is the fact that, unlike national labor unions, regional unions are less vulnerable to national politics.
Another way, in which workers benefit from regionalism is that, with regionalism there is equitable distribution of opportunities and workers from the given region are free to migrate into areas where their services and skills are in high demand. This ultimately, helps to fight poverty by improving the living standards of those workers who chance on jobs as a result of favorable regional economic integration. Regionalism is beneficial to countries in that, it gives countries a better bargaining power.
For instance, regional trade blocks have more powers to negotiate at the international level compared to national governments. Again looking at the example of European Union, member states have been able to take a common stance especially on the issue of agricultural subsidies and as a result, the member states have been able to get a better deal from the American government than it would have been the case if individual European nations were to engage the USA in trade negotiations. Another area where regionalism has proved useful to many countries is in the area of defense and security.
With membership in a regional body countries are assured of support in case of armed conflicts with aggressors. Taking the example of the Iraq invasion on Kuwait, regional cooperation between Kuwait and USA led to the former aiding Kuwait in defending its national territory. Even whereby members of a given regional union are not capable of aiding militarily, such can assist using diplomatic avenues in times of crisis for example, the decades long conflicts in Sudan pitting Southern Sudan and North have substantially eased as a result of regional intervention led by Kenya.
Regionalization has been instrumental in establishment of democratically elected governments where there have been no governments either as a result of military coups or in the past due to colonialism. Regionalism and the synergy that accompanies regionalism, was partly responsible for the attainment of independence in South Africa. The southern countries in Africa demonstrated support for the black struggle in South Africa against apartheid rule until a time when the apartheid regime could no longer hold to the pressure.
Regionalism helps maintain law and order through a number of means such as advocating for sanctions as well as boycotts. Since regional bodies have international support and enjoy membership from different countries, it becomes possible for a regional body to exert pressure to a country considered to have gone in contravention with international law. Therefore, through rule making powers regional bodies are able to dictate terms of agreement to errant members in different scopes such as human rights issues.
Since regional bodies are characterized by institutions, which have normative measures to enforce laws on members, they are in a position to enforce international order and therefore resulting into effective governance . Regionalism has been criticized for de-emphasizing sovereignty of member states. However, this is not the case considering the fact that, the de-emphasizing of sovereignty is not meant to deprive a state of its autonomy, but rather, to strike a common ground for all members since without a common ground it would not be possible to have regional institutions.
Regionalism has become very relevant in a fast globalizing world where there is an emergence of global challenges, which call for collaboration amongst states. For example, the global warming threat currently being deliberated upon cannot be solved by any given state without the input of other states. This therefore, requires that regional bodies take up leadership roles in coming up with measures aimed at resolving the numerous environmental challenges the world is facing today.
For instance, there are those countries, which significantly, contribute to the pollution of environment in disproportionate measures compared to the developing countries. Since such countries benefit from their industrial activities, oblivious of the danger their industries cause to the environment, they need to be confronted by regional institutions as opposed to individual countries. This further highlights the relevance of regionalism today. Regionalism provides a platform for different countries to pull together resources so as to solve common problems together.
Particularly, regionalism has played a great role in the field of research where different scientists share intelligence on different issues, which affect mankind. With regionalism it is possible to bring together researchers from various countries into one forum where solutions can be found for the numerous challenges especially in fighting disease. Regionalism is very important in the fight against poverty. This is true in regard to the fact that, it has been noted that the world has enough resources to comfortably sustain the current world population but the problem is that the resources are concentrated in a few countries.
Since regionalism pulls together states in different economic footing, what therefore results is that the less economically endowed countries stand to benefit immensely from the rich countries. In conclusion, regionalism is important in international governance in that, it opens up opportunities for members to trade, cooperate as well as to experience economic growth. Indeed, regionalism plays a very crucial role in maintaining peace given the fact that, it is only regional institutions that can enforce international law acceptable to different countries.