Regionalism, International

Frederick John Ravenhill

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    Regionalism is a slippery concept in the study of international relations. Little consensus exists among scholars on what constitutes a region. For some writers, a regional institution is any grouping that is less than global in its membership, a definition that would include the British Commonwealth for instance. Most writers would insist however that regionalism by any reasonable definition must have a geographical dimensionthat is, a region consists of countries that are geographically contiguous, so a regional organisation would be one that focuses on a specific geographical area (unlike the Commonwealth). But even this apparently straightforward criterion raises its own problems: for instance the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) that Australia helped establish in 1989 is normally considered a regional grouping. But in this instance the geographical link between the countries is the Pacific Ocean, which all member countries border, rather than sharing land boundaries. And the geographical dimension of the regional organisation may derive from its focus rather than from its membership alonefor example various organisations that are concerned with the security of a particular region but whose membership includes countries located outside that geographical area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Companion to Australian Politics
    EditorsBrian Galligan and Winsome Roberts
    Place of PublicationOxford UK
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780195555431
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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