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Politics of Regional Integration Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021

Since the 1970s there has been a liberal shift towards international relations since the end of World War II. Some of the predisposing factors that have influenced the need to have regional integration include security concerns, economic issues, a rise of many non-state actors, the decline of economic, improved transport and communication improved technology. Anarchy actually is viewed as the distribution of power.

The neo-realists believe that anarchies area self-help systems where authority and collective security are absent. It is characterized by the competitive dynamics of the security dilemma. By self-help mean it is not considered to be an institution. Most states have refused to subscribe to the self-help system rather than have opted to focus on issues of an international nature. Some liberals believe that anarchy constitutes states with self-interested identifies.

No authority can function efficiently in the international arena alone. For this reason, there is a need for international institution to integrate their powers that can be of an international nature. These powers should go beyond the limits of realism.

Some liberals have been known to want more of this, for instance, Joseph Nye speaks of complex learning and Robert Keohane mentions the sociological conceptions of interest. Each of them is mainly concerned with the role of transformation of identity and interest in the liberal world. In contemporary society the political systems and international systems are no longer focusing on the state systems rather they are giving much emphasis on a pluralistic approach to international relations.

This time of globalization it has become imperative for the world states to work as an integrated group. This is because globalization eliminates the physical boundaries that exist as a result of improved technology. It is for this reason that most of the states in the world have resolved in the formation of regional integrations. Since the early 1980’s there has been an influx of very many regional institutions that support regional integration in the process of achieving a common political-economic. (Lipson &Cohen, 1999)

Keohane and Nye observe that the international system is no longer simply a states system; rather it is becoming increasingly characterized by a plural. This is what they call a Plurilateral structure. The state plays a very important role in defining the global character depending on the way it nurtures its citizens. This means that domestic and international politics should work in unity so as to achieve positive international relations. (Keohane & Nye, 1997)

Realism has dominated the world since World War II. The realists observe that anarchy fosters international competition and conflict among states. This is because anarchy hinders the free will of these states to co-operate even in matters of common interest. The international institutions have been unable to decrease the negative effects of anarchy among the states. The realists are therefore pessimistic about the possibility of achieving international cooperation. They also accord the minimal role of the international institutions in bringing international cooperation.

The liberals believe that international institutions can help states create international cooperation. For the liberals, there is a great optimism of creating cooperation through regional integration. In the early 1980s, international relations took a positive paradigm in world politics.

The newest liberals accept that the states are the major actors in achieving international cooperation. Robert Keohane’s observation of world politics is that there is no common government to enforce rules and by the standards of domestic society, international institutions are weak. Keohane bases his arguments of international cooperation on the assumption that states are atomistic actors. He adds that the states in an anarchical context are smaller order or micro cooperation. This means that their interdependency is very crucial in achieving cooperation. The realists emphasize the five major aspects:

  • The major actors in world affairs.
  • The international environment severely penalizes states if they fail to protect their vital interest or if they pursue objectives beyond their means hence states are sensitive to costs and they behave as unitary rational agents.
  • International anarchy is the principal force shaping the motives and actions of states.
  • States in anarchy are preoccupied with power and security, are predisposed towards conflict and competition, and often fail to cooperate even in the face of common interests.
  • International institutions affect the prospects for cooperation.

The European unity is of an institution that has succeeded in altering anarchy in a positive way. The EU has transformed the community by enhancing integration among the European countries. The EU has created multilevel governance in which national government has reduced their anarchy in favor of multi-level governance and the sub-national actors are playing a very vital role. (Keohane & Nye,1997)

According to Stephen Krasner regimes are a set of rules, norms, and procedures around which the expectations for actors’ coverage in a certain issue area especially in arms Control international trade, and environmental cooperation. The current trend towards international relations has shown that mutual participation has improved, many of the states integrate for the common goal through a well-defined framework. These set rules, norms, and procedures guide international behavior. The guide for international behavior can be reinforced by the states and international institutions. (Krasner, 1983)


It is the step to achieve good international relations various states should put in place rules, procedures that promote international interests. Actually, there is a need t promote good international relations despite the drawbacks such as wars. Both domestic and international institutions have a role to coordinate to enhance international relations. It is evident that many of the schools of thought if combined rationally can be achieved international integration.


Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye (2000), Principal source of the liberal approach: Power and Interdependence. World Politics in Transition.

Stephen D. Krasner (1983) International Regimes. Cornell University Press.

Charles Lipson, Benjamin J. Cohen (1999) Theory and Structure in International Political Economy. MIT Press.

Robert O Keohane and Joseph S Nye (1997) power and independence. Little Brown, Boston.

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