Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How #Brexit & #Grexit Unleashed the Integration Monster from Me

Let me be clear: no longer exists, but still does, probably as a testament to my commitment to the continuous study and research of regional integration systems worldwide.

Even before 2003 when I graduated from my M.A. in International Politics, I had spent between 2001 and 2003 combing through studies on integration, and having the immense priviledge of time to be able to produce weekly pieces on regional trade for an international development newsletter. Thursday was "Regional integration" day -- a day I always looked forward to. At the age of 24, everyone looked at me funny when I started extolling virtues of integration.

When I left my tertiary studies with deeper understanding of comparative regional integration (still very new back in 2002/2003), I felt both victorious for the accomplishment...but lonesome, too.

It was going to be almost a decade before the rest of the world caught up with seeing beyond the EU as a global model. ASEAN always looked up to it, and when the AU became the AU in 2002, the very name-change was too similar to the EU to NOT give vent to comparisons with the EU. You could almost hear a scoff from Europe as if to say who do the Africans think they are replicating us.

Well...times have changed.

Even as I was comparing ECOWAS and ASEAN in my dissertation, few knew in Europe of what ECOWAS had done in circumventing Chapter VII approval to intervene in Liberia in 1989. Fewer, still, knew of ASEAN(established 1967), and how they had tried to fashion out a regionalism unique to them.

To cut a long story short: those very close to me will know that on regional integration, I am a closet academic. I was surprised to see this is my 15th year of research, exploring, writing about the discipline.

It isn't as attractive as economics, but gets me high enough!

Grexit, last year, came close to unleashing the integration "monster" out, but Brexit has clearly done it.

The desire to live, breathe, appreciate ECOWAS and the AU has unecessarily confined me. Couple this with the fact that the non-sexiness of other regionalisms doesn't get a look-in in Ghana, and one may understand why I make so much noise about ECOWAS and the AU combined.

Global regional integration is far from dead.

BREXIT and GREXIT must offer us lessons, and those of us with a passion for diplomacy and international relations must continue to interrogate regional integration like never before.

And please note: the integration "monster"... has been unleashed: RegionsWatch has staged a comeback!

Back to offering critiques of progressive and constructive regionalisms.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thoughts on #Brexit...& #Grexit

To all the IR students out there: if you are missing the point on #Brexit and #Grexit(July 2015), then you probably have yet to connect the dots on what regional integration is.

For those interested in the impact on the African Union, pls hold your breath. It will not collapse it. Neither will it collapse countries like Nigeria who are going through a bad economic patch.

Both #Grexit & #Brexit offer opportunities to reflect seriously on the qualitative nature of regional integration dynamics, and its relatability to ordinary people.

The shocking news (apocryphal or not) of Brits googling about the...EUROPEAN UNION after the deed is done is frightening, even chilling, to the bone to think that a model of global integration worldwide was that UNKNOWN to citizens.

As human beings, we falter and get complacent when institutions appear to be working almost automatically by default. Some may not have known how paid leave and whatnot for European citizens were a product of EU law; how free movement remains the most fundamental of freedoms in an integration project and how a Brexit would deny UK citizens of those easy freedoms. Double visas must be a nightmare for any non-European contemplating travelling to the UK and EU.

Gone! like the wind...

Simply put: the impacts on Africa's integration will be minimal. In fact, there will be new vistas...that may seek to elevate the UK into a new world order that was emerging -- one predicated on regional poles.

Some of us saw the light on regional poles a decade ago. It was Belgian European Parliamentarian Guy Verhofstadt who, at a Seminar on Globalization in Brussels in 2001, also talked about regional representation at the UN Security Council (the AU;Asean, etc would be represented at the table in New York).

I would hope the new dynamics will spawn regular and edifying conversations on the power of regional integration to uplift people from poverty, sustain fundamental freedoms, and build bridges towards a more peaceful world.

The inevitability of integration as a conduit to a more peaceful world must be one we must begin to discuss with the urgency it requires!

My two cents!