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.

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