Regional Challenges to Multilateralism

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This international conference is about regional and intra-regional challenges to multilateralism and global governance. We invite papers that study the on-going changes in the regional, intra-regional, and global dynamics of cooperation. This broad theme should not be analysed merely through the perspectives of politics, economics, law, or cultural studies. Nor can it be understood solely within the ramifications of Anglo-American political philosophy and IR that is dominated by foreign policy interests of some great powers. Instead, pluralist perspectives and multidisciplinary research is necessary to study and evaluate the nature and implications of the ongoing changes at the regional, intra-regional, and global levels. The conference is thus based on the realization that in the post-hegemonic world the formation of regions and the process of globalization might be disconnected from the orbit of the US.

European integration is a classic example of the former dynamics between regionalism and multilateralism. It was launched as an integral part of the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe. The Marshall plan was one key element of the post-war construction of the international order, accompanied by founding of multilateral financial institutions and the (failed) attempt to launch an International Trade Organization. US influence in both regional and multilateral processes was thus direct and strong ensuring institutional conformity on both levels. As European integration grew deeper and broader the Union itself became an active agent in multilateral institutions. Together with the US, Canada, and Japan, the EU promoted the deepening and broadening of economic integration at the multilateral institutions. Thus, the case of European regionalism evidences US hegemony as a decisive feature of the 20th century dynamics between regionalism and multilateralism. In 21st century the rise of Asia in general and China in particular have changed this basic setting. Plurality of power and worldviews has replaced US hegemony.

We wish to invite participants who – with different perspectives – can contribute to this broad research problem. At a more specific level, we invite papers addressing one or more of the following questions:

  •     How does trade regionalism relate to trade multilateralism? How steep are the differences in this relation between, for example, RCEP, the CETA and TTIP?
  •     How does financial regionalism relate to financial multilateralism? How steep are the differences between, for example, NDB and World Bank?
  •     To what extent (if at all) do competing worldviews manifest in the institutional variety of regionalism in the 21st century?
  •     Do cultural or civilizational traditions have a role in region-building and intra-regional cooperation?
  •     How could the resilience of multilateralism be increased? What can major powers in general and the EU in particular do to become more constructive actors?