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Article

Research on regional organizations in Southeast Asia began to form during the Second World War. Although not always explicit, realist assumptions informed most of this early scholarship. From the organization’s foundation in 1967 until the end of the Cold War, research focused almost exclusively on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In the 1990s, new regional initiatives led to a broadened empirical scope and encouraged the adoption of new perspectives from broader debates in International Relations theory, such as liberalism and constructivism. However, this increasing pluralism was still highly Western-centric in terms of its theoretical underpinnings. Since the 2000s, there has been a conscious effort, driven by scholars from inside and outside the region, to draw on critical and indigenous traditions of political thought in accounting for the distinctive features of regionalism in Southeast Asia. Despite the diversity of research questions and approaches, researchers keep returning to three central, long-standing themes: ASEAN’s institutional features, its effects and relevance, and its relation to the broader regional and global context. By exploring these issues, scholars of regional organizations in Southeast Asia have not just passively adopted insights from broader International Relations research but also driven conceptual and theoretical innovation, most notably regarding the development of non-Western approaches in International Relations.

Article

Filippo Costa Buranelli and Aliya Tskhay

“Regionalism” is a polysemic term that represents both a subfield of international relations (IR) that studies regions of the world and a process of formation of regions themselves. Its meaning and content have evolved substantially from its inception in the 1940s to its most recent contributions in the early 21st century. More precisely, the field of regionalism was severely marked by neofunctionalism theory and an economic reading of international relations in the years of the Cold War and then embraced new contributions from post-positivist and critical theories and methodologies from the 1990s onward, which featured not only different manifestations and causes but also different normative meanings. Regionalism has progressively moved away from Europe over the years (both as a site of production of research and as an empirical case study) to explore non-European and, more widely, non-Western and postcolonial domains, challenging Eurocentric theoretical and epistemological assumptions in IR. In addition, the two subfields of comparative regionalism and interregionalism have become prominent. The field of regionalism is more dynamic than ever, developing, self-innovating, and becoming more conceptually aware, while at the same time being susceptible to weaknesses, blind spots, and potential for further improvement and deeper dialogue with IR theory.

Article

Jörg Balsiger and Stacy D. VanDeveer

Only recently has international environmental politics scholarship focused more explicitly on “regionalism” as a distinct phenomenon, one which has received much more sustained attention among specialists in international security and international political economy. By the early twenty-first century, regional environmental governance had become commonplace. Since the term “region” has had different connotations in different disciplines, the analytic and empirical scope of studies of regional environmental governance has varied considerably. As such, analyses of regional environmental cooperation have incorporated both constructivist views of regions that transcend the nation-state grid, and rescaling arguments placing greater emphasis on subnational governments, transboundary mobilization, and the importance of ecoregional initiatives. Regional agreements increasingly point to some sort of ecoterritoriality, state actors are increasingly complemented by nonstate or substate actors, and the thematic scope increasingly expands beyond purely environmental issues to encompass broader notions of sustainable development. There are three typical types of regional agreements: interstate regional environmental governance, ecoregional environmental governance, and ecoregional sustainable development governance. Interstate regional environmental governance is most typical of regional economic organizations with an environmental mandate that covers single or multiple environmental issues. Meanwhile, ecoregional environmental governance is widely seen in agreements for mountain ranges, regional seas, or river basins. Case studies on marine and mountain regional environmental governance illustrate that various regional arrangement remain in quite different states of institutionalization. Yet they also illustrate the growth of ecoregionalism in transnational environmental governance.

Article

Sanjoy Chakravorty

Industrial clusters have existed since the early days of industrialization. Clusters exist because of the fact (or perception) that competing firms in the same industry derive some benefit from locating in proximity to each other. These benefits are external to the firm and accrue to similar firms in proximity. Examples include the cotton mills of Lancashire, automobile manufacturing in Detroit, and information technology firms in Silicon Valley. At the firm level, the presence of firms in the same industry, which are located in proximity (in the same region), are expected to increase internal productivity. At the industry level, it is possible to see quantifiable localized benefits of clustering which accrue to all firms in a given industry or in a set of interrelated industries. The sources of this productivity increase in regions where an industry is more spatially concentrated: knowledge spillovers, dense buyer–supplier networks, access to a specialized labor pool, and opportunities for efficient subcontracting. At the metropolitan area level, productivity increases from access to specialized financial and professional services, availability of a large labor pool with multiple specializations, inter-industry information transfers, and the availability of less costly general infrastructure. At the interregional scale, these gains are expected to lead to industry concentration in metropolitan and other leading urban regions. To obtain a complete picture of clustering, one must also consider its absence. If manufacturing and service clusters are associated with regional economic growth, the absence of productive clusters suggests the absence of growth and lagging regions.

Article

The problem of international migration is that global cooperation is somewhat rare. If international cooperation is to develop, then it will depend on states; but effective cooperation would also impose real constraints on states. Moreover, as states and their borders give meaning to international migration, it follows that the development, consolidation, and transformation of the state system is a key factor determining the possibilities for the global and regional governance of migration to develop. Existing forms of regional integration and their migration provisions as well as regional consultation processes (RCPs) can serve as a mechanism for intraregional communication, the sharing of knowledge, and for the dissemination of policy ideas and practices. The EU has already been discussed as the world’s most highly developed form of regional integration. It is the only international organization with the power and capacity to make and implement laws through its own institutional system that must be implemented by member states. The EU moreover has a highly developed system of internal free movement for nationals of its own states and has developed a border-free travel area for participating states. These developments constitute the hallmark of a highly developed intra-EU migration framework linked to the creation of the “single market.”

Article

The terms “region,” “regionalism,” and “regional integration” are often used synonymously in the academe. For instance, one author refers to Pacific Asian regionalization, North American regionalism and regional integration in Europe. Some authors view “regionalism” as the analytically broader term. Since the mid-1990s, there has been a more general movement toward “economic regionalism or regional trade agreements,” building on the concept of “new regionalism” and coinciding with the notion of “preferential trading arrangements.” This implies only those integration schemes which have an economic purpose, are in geographical proximity to each other, and consist of more than two states qualify for inclusion. There are five stages in the deepening of formal regional integration: free trade area, customs union, common market, economic union, and political union. From the late-1950s to the late 1990s, two approaches have attempted to explain the process (rather than the origins) of regionalism: neofunctionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism. Scholars argue whether there is a causal connection between regional integration and Global Political Economy (GPE), or whether they are simply correlated. Three themes from the literature on regionalism and GPE can be identified. First, the numerous studies since the late 1990s that have taken a decidedly comparative approach, irrespective of their level of analysis, agree that there is some “logic” to regional arrangements. Second, confusion occurs with domestic causality. Third, large membership has become a concern for the European Union.

Article

Social science scholars have repeatedly predicted the demise of regional (or peripheral) nationalism, from the late nineteenth century to the post-World War II period and in the 1990s. However, all suggestions about the death of regional nationalism have been proven wrong. On the contrary, nationalist movements in the West have not only survived advanced capitalist development in liberal democratic contexts but have thrived as well. In the developing world, decolonization gave rise to a variety of regional nationalist movements that frequently spiraled into violent conflict and secessionist attempts. To deal with regional nationalism, states often turned to devolution, resulting in the implementation of various schemes of autonomy, most of which came under the guise of federalism. Three trends characterize the literature on regional nationalism and its management through devolution: a change in the way regional nationalism is viewed; a transformation in the type of political, institutional, and constitutional response scholars have suggested toward regional nationalism; and a willingness to accept, or even favor, secession as a possible solution to conflict in multinational and/or multiethnic countries. At the same time, there are at least two challenges in the study of regional nationalism and its management: objectivity and the need to develop a greater comparative perspective.

Article

Enyu Zhang and Qingmin Zhang

The study of East Asian foreign policies has progressed in sync with mainstream international relations (IR) theories: (1) from perhaps an inadvertent or unconscious coincidence with realism during the Cold War to consciously using different theoretical tools to study the various aspects of East Asian foreign policies; and (2) from the dominance of realism to a diversity of theories in studying East Asian foreign policies. Nonetheless, the old issues from the Cold War have not been resolved; the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait remain two flashpoints in the region, with new twists that can derail regional stability and prosperity. New issues also have emerged and made East Asia most volatile. One issue is concerned with restructuring the balance of power in East Asia, particularly the dynamics among the major players, i.e. Japan, China, and the United States. Regionalism is another new topic in the study of East Asian foreign policies. A review of the current state of the field suggests that two complementary issues be given priority in the future. First, the foreign policy interests and strategies of individual small states vis-à-vis great powers in the region, particularly those in Southeast Asia and the Korean peninsula. Second, what could really elevate the study of East Asian foreign policies in the general field of IR and foreign policy analysis is to continue exploring innovative analytical frameworks that can expand the boundaries of existing metatheories and paradigms.

Article

Federalism refers to the compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or “federal” government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial, or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system. Its distinctive feature is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established, as exemplified in the founding of modern federalism of the United States of America under the 1787 Constitution. Federalism differs from confederalism, in which the general level of government is subordinate to the regional level, and from devolution within a unitary state, in which the regional level of government is subordinate to the general level. Instead, federalism represents the central form of the pathway of regional integration or separation. Leading examples of the federation or federal state include the Russian Federation, the United States, USSR, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and India. Some also characterize the European Union as the pioneering example of federalism in a multi-state setting—a concept termed the federal union of states. Traditionally, federalism was defined as a simple league or inter-governmental relationship among sovereign states based upon a treaty. Whereas modern federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments.

Article

To understand the global and regional dimensions of the contemporary international society, one must become familiar with the English School literature related to the historical expansion of the European society of states and its gradual transformation to the global international society of today. There is a distinction between an international system and an international society. English School scholars have accepted that this distinction is valid, but the boundary line between the two concepts is problematic. According to the English School literature, before and during the establishment of the European society of states, the world was divided into many regional international systems/societies—each with its own distinctive rules and institutions reflecting the dominant regional culture. The global international society of the early twentieth century was the result of the expansion of the European international society, which gradually brought other regional international systems/societies into contact with one another. However, World War I led to the destruction of the European society of states. Moreover, the emergence of a bipolar world in conjunction with the imperial Soviet policies during the Cold War led to the division of the global international system into two separate international societies. Nevertheless, with the end of the Cold War, a united global international society emerged. Within the confines of the global gesellschaft international society, one can find several gemeinschaft types of regional international societies—some of which are more developed than others.

Article

Latin American foreign policy has drawn the attention of scholars since the 1960s. Foreign policy–related literature began to surge in the 1980s and 1990s, with a focus on both economic and political development. As development in the region lagged behind that of its northern neighbors, Latin American had to rely on foreign aid, largely from the United States. In addition to foreign aid, two of the most prevalent topics discussed in the literature are trade/economic liberalization and regional economic integration (for example, Mercosur and NAFTA). During and after the Cold War, Latin America played a strategic foreign policy role as it became the object of a rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union hoping to expand their power and/or contain that of the other. This role was also explored in a considerably larger body of research, along with the decision of Latin American nations to diversify their foreign relations in the post–Cold War era. Furthermore, scholars have analyzed different regions/countries that have become new and/or expanded targets of Latin American foreign policy, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Despite the substantial amount of scholarship that has accumulated over the years, a unified theory of Latin American foreign policy remains elusive. Future research should therefore focus on the development of a theory that incorporates the multiple explanatory variables that influence foreign policy formulation and takes into account their relative importance and the effects on each other.

Article

Trade governance rests upon certain economic assumptions and the ensuing political compromises made possible by the growth of an incremental legal consensus. The main economic assumptions are that trade will deliver upon the objectives of socio-economic development, stable, long-term employment opportunities and poverty reduction. These assumptions are theoretically sound, but are increasingly challenged by the complex political realities of global trade. The study of trade in the field of international political economy (IPE) has deep roots in the postwar disciplines of economics and political science. The literature on the history of trade regulation places the current system, with its emphasis on the legitimizing imprimatur of political power and the significance of binding treaty, into a more nuanced context in which present practices, while sometimes novel, are frequently older than most policy makers realize. In the two decades since the finalization of the Uruguay Round and the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a host of significant issues have arisen as scholars and policy makers attempt to implement the WTO’s mandate and navigate the political waters of trade regulation as it relates to domestic law and policy. These include the set of issues raised by the broadening of trade regulation post-Uruguay Round to include trade related intellectual property rights and trade in services, the contentious issue of trade and economic development, and the issue of WTO reform.

Article

Katarzyna Kaczmarska

The essay discusses the origins and development of the idea of international society in the discipline of International Relations (IR). It locates the concept in the English School tradition, providing a summary of the classic statements as found in the writings of Wight, Bull and Manning. It engages with more recent writing, including Buzan’s reconceptualization of international society and explaining the pluralist-solidarist distinction. The essay traces key debates surrounding the concept, such as the expansion of international society, humanitarian intervention and the standard of civilisation. The final part presents the main criticisms of the concept and explores the ontological status of international society.

Article

Jason E. Strakes, Mikhail A. Molchanov, and David J. Galbreath

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationships of elite/citizen preferences and strategies—and its consequent impact on the perceived role of their countries in the greater international system—it is necessary to put an emphasis on interactions within and across contrasting areas of the formerly communist world. Until recently, the systematic investigation of foreign policy-making processes has been a relatively neglected dimension within the general domain of post-communist studies. During the mid-to-late 1990s, various scholars addressed ideological redefinition in post-communist states. Other scholars have addressed the foreign policy trajectory of the newly independent states from the perspective of governance, institutional structure, and state capacity. Among the analytic tools that have been adopted to evaluate the international activities of post-communist states in recent years is the burgeoning concept of “multi-vector” foreign policy. However, due to the vast cross-regional scope and complexity of the former Soviet region, it has become more analytically useful to identify this group of countries in terms of their location in separate and respective geographic subregions. Two regional overviews provide a synthesis of the four analytic foci: national identity, political transition, rationality, and regionalism. The first offers an assessment of the foreign policy decisions and strategies of the Baltic republics since 1990–1. The second evaluates the foreign relations between the Russian Federation and the five independent republics of Central Asia.

Article

Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner

Despite the near-absence of studies of the Caribbean within the mainstream of international relations (IR) theory and foreign policy analysis (FPA), as well as a tendency to subsume this diverse and unique region within the larger Latin America, a focus on Caribbean international relations offers several interesting implications for the wider fields of both IR and FPA. Realist, liberalist, constructivist, and critical approaches all can be incorporated into the study of Caribbean foreign policy in unique ways, and the subfield of foreign policy analysis can also be enriched by focusing on the particular domestic sources of foreign policy in small, culturally diverse, developing countries such as the Caribbean states. Among the unique characteristics of foreign policy in these states is the important role played by external forces in both the economy and the polity, leading to constraints on decision-making autonomy. The external factor also explains why the idea of “inter-American relations” has long been viewed as providing the necessary backdrop for explaining Caribbean foreign policy. Related to this is the important role played by the main regional actors, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as well as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which has thinned the boundary between state and region. As for the prioritization of military-security issues seen in the more powerful countries of the globe, these Caribbean states (apart from Cuba) have eschewed military adventures and traditionally defined their foreign policies in terms of the prioritization of economic development. Finally, to study Caribbean foreign policy means that the scholar must exercise creativity in borrowing from perspectives not normally included in traditional foreign policy studies. Sociology, anthropology, historiography, political economy, and public policy are complementary tools for understanding the Caribbean. Moreover, situating the study of foreign policy within general currents of thought on the role of small states and global south states is also recommended.

Article

Brad K. Blitz

Evidence shows that international flows of highly skilled workers are increasing, both between advanced states and between advanced and developing regions. The movement of skilled people around the globe is driven by a variety of political forces, including governments’ continued efforts to address domestic labor shortages and restock through preferential immigration policies and international recruitment drives. For social scientists, the unprecedented movement of highly skilled labor across the globe calls into question earlier approaches to the study of migration. Where international highly skilled workers were treated in the classical sociological literature on migration as a small population that reflected both the potential for human capital transfers between states and, more controversially, a corresponding “brain drain” from source countries, the realities of transnational migration now complicate this picture. The expansion of the European Union and other forms of regional cooperation have given rise to important trade liberalizing agreements, producing a truly global migration market and the policy context for much contemporary research. More studies are needed to tackle issues relevant to the study of skilled migration, such as estimates of skilled migrants, longitudinal studies of circular migration, and analyses of the differentiation of migrants by occupational group and country of origin, along with the relative access that such groups enjoy in the receiving state.

Article

The issue of human rights presents a dilemma for the discipline of international relations (IR) in general and the literature on international institutions in particular. Since international human rights institutions are primarily, but not exclusively, concerned with how states treat their own citizens, they seek to empower individual citizens and groups vis-à-vis their own governments. A major concern is whether such institutions make a difference for the protection and promotion of human rights. This concern has spawned a series of research questions and some major lines of enquiry. The study of human rights regimes has developed at the interface between IR and international law, along with the norms and practices of global human rights institutions. In addition, human rights has been institutionalized globally through the United Nations system and the connections between the development over time of international human rights institutions on the one hand, and their relative effectiveness in shaping human rights behavior on the other. The development and impact of international human rights law and policy have also been influenced by regionalism. While the research on human rights regimes has provided important insights into the role of institutions in narrowing the gap between the rhetoric and practice of human rights, there are crucial areas that need further scholarly attention, such as the domestic actors and institutions that act and could potentially act as “compliance constituencies” and conduits of domestic implementation linking international human rights norms to domestic political and legal institutions and actors.

Article

Valeria Marina Valle, Caroline Irene Deschak, and Vanessa Sandoval-Romero

International migration flows have long been a defining feature of the Americas and have evolved alongside political and phenomenological shifts between 2009 and 2018, creating new patterns in how, when, and why people move. Migration is a determinant of health, and for the nations involved, regional changes create new challenges to defend the universal right to health for migrants. This right is repeatedly guaranteed within the global agenda, such as in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations; the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 3 regarding health and well-being, and SDG 10, which aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries. The 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration confirms a worldwide partnership highlighting protection of migrants’ right to health and services. The literature reviewed on migration and health in the Americas between 2009 and 2018 identifies two distinct publication periods with different characteristics in the Central and North American subregions: 2009 to 2014, and 2015 to 2018. The first period is characterized by an influx of young adult migrants from Central America to the United States who generally traveled alone. During the second period, the migration flow includes other major groups, such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, disabled people, people from the LGBTIQ+ community, and whole families; some Central Americans drew international attention for migrating in large groups known as “caravans.” In South America, the 2010–2015 period shows three defining tendencies: intensification of intra-regional cross-border migration (with an 11% increase in South American migrants from 2010 to 2015 and approximately 70% of intra-subregional migration), diversification of countries of origin and extra-regional destination, and the persistence of extra-continental emigration. Social determinants of health have a foundational relevance to health and well-being for migrants, such as age, housing, health access, education, and policy environment. Guiding theories on migration and health include Push-and-Pull Theory, Globalization Theory, Transnationalism, Relational Cultural Theory, and Theory of Assimilation. Migration and health was analyzed through the lens of five disciplines (Management, Social Work, Communication, Education, Information Science & Library Science, Law): clinical medicine, social sciences, health (general), professional fields, and psychology. There is an overrepresentation of literature in clinical medicine, demonstrating a strong bias towards production in the United States. Another gap perceived in the literature is the minimal knowledge production in South America and the Caribbean, and a clear bias towards publication in the North American continent. At the regional level, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)’s agenda serves to highlight areas of success and opportunities for future research, particularly in two areas: strengthening partnerships, networks, and multi-country frameworks; and adopting policies, programs, and legal frameworks to promote and protect the health of migrants. As these strategic lines of action aim to provide the basis for decisions regarding migrant health in the region, they should be considered two important avenues for further academic exploration.