The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview

REGIONALISM AND WORLD ORDER

RONALD J. YALEM

THE proliferation of regional organizations since 1945 is one of the most significant developments of contemporary international relations. Centainly it was not foreseen by the framers or the United Nations' Charter who believed that regionalism must be subordinated to the universal approach to peace and security. What then is the relationship between such organizations and the United Nations in terms of the maintenance of peace and security? Is regionalism a symptom or a cause of international disorder? Assuming the continued growth of regional organizations, what possibilities are there of eventually promoting world order? Do regional organizations reflect a movement away from exclusive reliance on the nation-state as the basic unit in international relations?

These questions are suggested by the increasing prominence of regional groups in world affairs today. This article attempts to suggest tentative answers by examining the reasons for the growth of contemporary regionalism, the lines of compatibility and conflict between regional and universal forms of international organization, and the relationship between regionalism and the concept of a world order; and these answers are based on the assumption that the growth of regionalism has been more a pragmatic response to the changing dynamics of international politics than the outcome of a conviction that regionalism was theoretically superior to universalism as a form of international cooperation.

Regionalism as an institutional form of international cooperation is often identified with the number of security agencies that have developed since 1945 such as N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., and the Warsaw Pact. But there are numerous examples of regional economic and social organizations, especially in Western Europe. The European Economic Community, European Coal and Steel Community and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are important regional agencies. In the Latin American area a new Inter-American Development Bank has recently been formed as well as a Free Trade Association between nine of the republics.1 In South Asia the Colombo Plan organization, comprising both economically advanced and under-developed States, serves to channel important economic aid and technical assistance into the area. It seems

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1
Lincoln P. Bloomfield, 'The United States, the United Nations, and the Creation of Community,' International Organization, Vol. XIV, No. 4, 1960, p. 511.

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