Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Analysis: Cameroon in CEMAC; Theories on Regional Integration and UN Regional Commissions

Since my absence for the past two weeks, I have been cogitating and ruminating over the future of regional integration. Not so much what I want to do with RegionsWatch as much as how better to make it.

Let us start with THEORIES. No concept or idea is worth its salt without a theory. So I have resolved to use at least one entry a week to look at some of the theories on regional integration out there that one can touch on. These include "neo-functionalism", attributed to American scholar Ernest B Haas, which is basically a Eurocentric view on regional integration theory that propounds the theory of "spillover" effect as one of the many elements that make up European regional integration. There are the cases of liberal intergovernmentalism--applied to the work of international organisations like the EU and the UN. Today, I came across the theory of "historical institutionalism"--a theory I definitely need to look into more closely before my head explodes!

Bottom line is that regional integration does not exist in a vacuum, and understanding the theory, in my view, is a good and sure way of ensuring that one gets a better appreciation of where this fascinating discipline of international affairs is going. Besides, I see that if I can master the theory, I stand a better chance of not being caught napping over the discipline.

Who's Daniel Bach?
Then there's DANIEL BACH, author of "The European Union's Strategic Partnership with the African Union." In my view, he makes some bombastic claims about the decision by the AU to name economic communities "regional economic communities", and wonders why the more "advanced" RECs like CEMAC, UEMOA, and SACU are not part of the UNECA-mandated eight regional organisations. As much as I see where he is going, he totally isolates the very important element of no less than the UN Regional Commission for Africa--UNECA--having conducted commendable research on regional integration for Africa in a way that some of the regional commissions have not. Neither does Bach touch on the 2006 meeting in the Gambia that "rationalised" the RECs. For a scholar of his standing, I find it self-serving and unacceptable.

Still, there's a lot of terminology I liked: "morphology of regional organisations"; "scramble for REC status": "pick and choose approach to regional economic integration"; "scramble for pre-eminence among regional groupings"...

When I am fully done with the paper, I shall be here for a review.

Quo Vadis UN Regional Commissions?
Speaking of which--I have talked about the UN Regional Commissions many a time, and I am yet to establish the very role they play in the facilitation of regional integration in places other than Africa, where it is crystal-clear UNECA has done great work in spurring debate on aspects of regional integration. Seeing as the jury remains out on where they're going in Latin America(ECLAC), Asia(UNESCAP)and Europe(UNECE)--to name but three regions--I can only promise to get back to you on them. In fact, I am particularly quizzed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe. Given how advanced the EU is in its regional integration, I cannot for the life of me see how it can facilitate EU integration processes. Like I said, jury's still out!

Hegemonic Cameroon--Not!
If Cameroon is featured here in the title, there's a reason: CAMEROON seems to suffer from hegemonic-deficiency in the sense that in the context of CEMAC, I continue to read that it is not pulling its weight in asserting itself in the way Nigeria has done so in ECOWAS, and South Africa naturally in SADC. What could be pulling it back?

I guess the jury's also out on that one! Whatever the case may be, better things are promised for RegionsWatch. To name but a few: a reader of recommended reading, the re-emergence of "BIMANORI", which is likely to come out twice a year in 2010, and four times in 2011.

I am also in the process of developing parameters/indices to "test" the "validity" of regional integration initiatives, which would include things like "imperatives" and what I call "institutional distribution".

Lost? Don't be!

It's all to enhance the experience of being a valued follower/lurker/of Regionswatch Observatory on ""!

Incidentally, to my friends in Abuja who regularly have their page set on August 2007. I am clueless as to what is so great on that page, but thank you anyway! I do appreciate comments--helps me improve!

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