Global Politics in the 21st Century

Between Regional Cooperation and Conflict

by Andrzej Mania (Volume editor) Marcin Grabowski (Volume editor) Tomasz Pugacewicz (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 310 Pages


This book focuses on the problem of regionalism, the crucial phenomenon in international relations at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Regionalism is analyzed both in terms of regional economic and political integration, as well as regional competition and conflict. The book is divided into three parts, based on the functional and geographical criteria. The first part is devoted to the theoretical setting, including brief introduction to regionalism problems and classical theories of integration, as well as new approaches to regionalism, which are followed by the analysis of regions in the context of regional security complexes concept. The second part of the book focuses on Asian and African challenges to regionalism and the third, and final, part is devoted to the most developed subregional order, namely the European region.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction: Regional Problems of Asia, Africa and Europe
  • Part I: Regions and Regionalism
  • 1 Regionalism: Cooperation and Conflict
  • 2 Rethinking Regionalism in the 21st Century1
  • 3 Between Realism and Social Constructivism: “Region” in Regional Security Complexes Theory and Security Communities Theory
  • Part II: Challenged Regionalism in Asia and Africa
  • 4 Regional Integration in Central Asia in the Shadow of Sino-Russian Rivalry
  • 5 Transformation of the Middle East Security Complex Structure: The Role of Outside Powers and Non-State Actors
  • 6 The MENA Area in the Shadow of Conflict – The FTF Phenomenon
  • 7 The Iran-Syria Alliance in the Regional Order
  • 8 The Importance of Home-Grown Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Part III: Challenges of European Integration
  • 9 With Whom to Cooperate in Brussels? The Effect of Coalition-Building with the Three Seas Initiative, Visegrad Group and Germany on Poland’s Success in EU Lawmaking
  • 10 The Main Determinants of the European Union’s Influence in the United Nations
  • 11 The EU as a Global Player in Times of Crises – Challenges and Limitations
  • 12 Tariff Preferences of the European Union for LDCs (the EBA Scheme) – Importance to System Beneficiaries
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index

Andrzej Mania, Marcin Grabowski, Tomasz Pugacewicz

Introduction: Regional Problems of Asia, Africa and Europe

Problem of globalization and regionalization in political and economic international relations has evolved substantially since the end of the Second World War, but definitely more rapidly since the end of the Cold War. Globalization seemed to dominate in the 1990s, but the early 21st century has led to an increasing role for regionalization in its different emanations, both in terms of regional economic and political integration, and regional competition and conflict.

This was the reason the Polish International Studies Association (PISA) decided to devote its annual convention to the problem of regional systems in the perspective of international studies. Annual conventions of PISA have become the main platform for the International Relations community in Poland and interested foreign scholars to meet and discuss crucial issues emerging in the contemporary world. Every year a new main theme associated with the issues critical for the development of the academic discipline or a pivotal international phenomenon has been chosen. Those topics have included: International relations interdisciplinarity, the level of analysis problem, realism as IR theory, norms and values, liberalism and neoliberalism and finally, foreign policy.

It was not an accident that the PISA meeting in 2017 was focused on regional and global studies in International Relations as the previous year the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement involving 12 states was signed, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal between 28 European Union countries and the United States was approaching its final phase of negotiations. Simultaneously, the academic studies on regionalism reached new heights in the 21st century as approaches to regionalism were developed and the up-to-date achievements of regionalism studies and their interconnectedness with International Relations were summarized in the book Rethinking Regionalism published at the end of 2015 by Fredrik Söderbaum.1

Around 150 researchers took part in the meeting with Fredrik Söderbaum invited to deliver a keynote speech. In more than 40 panels scholars discussed such topics as regional issues (e.g. regional conflicts and cooperation) in Central and Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia, ←7 | 8→Africa, Indio-Pacific, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. Beyond CEE affairs, special emphasis was put on the state of the European Union integration process and the EU’s external relations, and on factors shaping U.S. foreign policy as a global hegemon. Additionally, separate panels were committed to regional migration, regional hegemony, global economy, international order, global and regional governance, and regional security (especially energy security and maritime security). At the level of theoretical deliberations, regional complex security theory, in addition to regionalization and regionalism, especially from the perspective of constructivism was discussed. Chapters of this volume were based on selected papers presented during the abovementioned conference in Krakow on regionalism and globalism, and is supplemented by an article written by keynote speaker, Fredrik Söderbaum.

Structure of the Book

The volume is divided into three parts, based on functional and geographical criteria. The first part is devoted to the theoretical setting, including a brief introduction to regionalism problems and classical theories of integration, as well as new approaches to regionalism, followed by an analysis of regions in the context of the regional security complexes concept. The second part focuses on Asian and African challenges to regionalism. The third and final part is devoted to the most developed subregional order, namely the European region.

Regions and Regionalism

The book opens with a short introductory chapter by Marcin Grabowski, focusing on the problem of regionalism and classical theories of regional integration and regions, especially from the second half of the 20th century.

It is followed by a chapter by Fredrik Söderbaum, trying to show a new perspective on regionalism, based on his famous book Rethinking Regionalism,2 and focusing on the fact of problematic, narrowly understood regionalism, suggesting a rethink in four areas. Those areas to be rethought are regional history, regional comparison, regional space, as well as regions in a global perspective. Such an approach allows deeper analysis of the evolution of regionalism, including its comparative version, as well as its significance in areas like security, trade, development, and environment.

←8 | 9→

The third and last chapter of this part by Magdalena Kozub-Karkut focuses on the region as an additional level of analysis in international relations, situated between national and global levels. It is based on two theories, namely the regional security complex theory (RSCT) of Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver and Karl Deutsch’s security communities theory (developed further by Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett). Regional security issues are more important in these theories, and analysis of the juxtaposition of realist and social constructivist approaches within those theories is conducted in the context of their enrichment and usefulness.

Challenged Regionalism in Asia and Africa

The second part of the book is focused on regional challenges in Asia and Africa. Broadly understood, the Asian region has been somehow underdeveloped in terms of regional integration, with an exception in Southeast Asia, having already created ASEAN in 1967. Additionally, exogenous factors, especially the Soviet Union and the United States, played a crucial role in Asian regionalism, and great powers are still significant actors in the region, with the U.S. dominating. Looking at the Middle East and Africa we may find also truncated regionalism.

Opening the second part, the fourth chapter by Marcin Grabowski and Jakub Stefanowski focuses on the institutional structure of Central Asia, especially institutions like the Commonwealth of the Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with reference to the theoretical paradigms of neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism. The authors conduct their analysis looking at institutions as a battle field between two dominant state actors in the region, namely the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation, and referring this competition especially to the power transition theory by Abramo Organski and Jacek Kugler, with the addition of the regimes theory of Stephen Krasner.

The fifth chapter by Artur Skorek refers to the regional security complex theory of Barry Buzan and Ole Weaver, applying this theory to the Middle East, a region experiencing many challenges in the 21st century. These challenges are connected especially with the civil war in Syria, rivalry between Sunni and Shia communities, problems caused by ISIS, as well as external powers’ engagement in the region. The author is not only trying to assess the explanatory power of the RSCT in the 21st century Middle East, but also proposing a revision when necessary.

In Chapter six, Magdalena El Ghamari focuses on the problem of foreign terrorist fighters in ISIS/Daesh. This phenomenon of more than 42 000 foreign fighters, including more than 5000 from Europe, is explained by the propaganda of the organization built on the themes of identity, crisis, and solution construct. ←9 | 10→The author analyzes interplaying narratives of value, dichotomy and crisis and looks at different themes prevailing in different forms of propaganda encouraging foreigners to join ISIS.

This chapter is followed by Rafał Ożarowski’s piece focusing on the Iran-Syria alliance in the Middle East regional order, analyzing especially the reasons shaping the alliance, mutual relations and interests leading to its perpetuation, as well as Iran’s involvement in the conflict in Syria. The hypothesis driving Ożarowski’s paper is stating that the longevity of Iran-Syria alliance is determined by the instability and hostility of the political environment, but surprisingly also by differences in types of governments and the ideological backgrounds of these regimes. Additionally, Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict is explained not by alliance obligations, but by Iran’s efforts to maintain a regional power position in the Middle East regional system.

In the next chapter, Monika Różalska focuses on Sub-Saharan African issues, namely problems of development, with a special emphasis on so-called home-grown development based on indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions in both development policies and practices. Such an approach is in contrast to the traditional approach to Sub-Saharan Africa by external institutions, like the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, designing and imposing development strategies in the region, without taking local conditions into account. Such strategies, focusing mostly on GDP/GNP growth, have been failures, as they have not brought improvement the living conditions of local people. Therefore, home-grown development initiatives were initiated in 1990s.

Challenges of European Integration

The third part of the book focuses on the most developed regional integration institution, namely the European Union, especially on the European role in global politics. The European Union, established on the basis of European Communities in 1993, has gone through virtually all stages of economic cooperation, being also a source and a testing site of different regional integration theories described in Chapter 1. At the same time, Europe has become an ever more important actor in global politics, initially within its second pillar of Common Foreign and Security Policy and since 2010 actively using the European External Action Service. This policy is based mostly on political and economic instruments, and such areas are to large extent analyzed in the third part of the book.

Chapter 9 by Adam Kirpsza analyzes the internal EU setting, namely problems of coalition-building and their effects on the success of certain political endeavors. The analysis compares the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrad Group, ←10 | 11→and cooperation with Germany in order to assess the efficiency of Polish goals in EU lawmaking in the case of building coalitions in selected settings. In the article, the author questions whether coalitions in selected configurations are feasible due to the similar preferences of actors, and which of the aforementioned coalitions increase Polish bargaining power in EU legislative decision-making. In the resulting the analysis, the author concludes that coalitions with Germany and Visegrad countries are more useful for Poland, and it is counterproductive to collaborate with Three Seas Initiative countries.

In Chapter 10 Joanna Strzyk-Sulejewska assesses the influence of the European Union in the United Nations, searching for determinants of its influence. The author aims at explanation of the EU’s cooperation with a global intergovernmental organization (UN), trying to understand the complex nature of their relations. The analysis refers to the period before and after the Treaty of Lisbon, attempting to explain the complicated structure of relations of sovereign member states and the EU itself with the UN. This chapter is driven by the hypothesis identifying core determinants of EU influence in the UN, including the ability to maintain a consistent and coherent approach towards UN’s issues, the extent of coherence and divergence among EU member states, and the ability to negotiate with non-EU UN member states in order to win their support.

In Chapter 11 Paula Marcinkowska analyzes the role of the European Union as a regional and global player. The analyzed role results from external factors, including the economic, institutional and political situation in the world, but also from internal EU factors, especially cohesiveness. The latter to a large extent determines EU external actions, especially in times of crisis. Hence the hypothesis that the role of the EU as an effective global player is limited by the internal problems of the Union is the main driver of the chapter.

The final chapter of the book by Małgorzata Czermińska focuses on the role of tariff preferences of the EU for the Least Developed Countries. These countries face serious difficulties in development and access to global markets; therefore numerous initiatives are created in order to improve their position and chances for development. The author of this chapter assesses the European Union’s initiative of providing duty-free and quota-free access to its market within the Everything but Arms system (hence to all products excluding arms) and the initiative’s role to its beneficiaries.

The regional perspective taken by authors of chapters published in this volume fits the novel approach to global politics, focusing on this additional dimension of international relations, located between global and national level, especially in the 21st century. Such an approach is definitely a useful analytical tool both in terms of regional cooperation, and conflicts.

←11 | 12→←12 | 13→

1 Söderbaum, Fredrik: Rethinking Regionalism. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, 2016.

2 Cf.: Söderbaum, Fredrik: Rethinking Regionalism. Palgrave Macmillan: London-New York 2016.

Marcin Grabowski

1 Regionalism: Cooperation and Conflict

Abstract: The first chapter of this book has two main goals. On the one hand it is a brief introduction to the competition between globalization and regionalization in the international system, visible especially at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, with initial dominance of globalization and gradual retreat towards regionalism, or even the nation-states. On the other, it briefly introduces the main theories of regional integration, especially classical theories, including functionalism, neo-functionalism, transactionism, as well as the theories of regionalism of Joseph Nye, Louise Cantori and Stephen Spiegel, William Thompson or Björn Hettne and Fredrik Söderbaum. The analysis concentrates on classical theories of integration and regionalism, as contemporary theoretical developments as well as regional security complex theory are discussed in subsequent chapters.

Keywords: regionalism, regional integration, globalization, functionalism, neo-functionalism, transactionism


Regionalism, as a phenomenon in international relations, as well as a framework for analysis in IR scholarship, has been gaining prominence in the discipline, especially since the end of the Cold War. However, there are substantial differences in the regional approach of the early post-Cold War period and the early 21st century, as the 1990s were still dominated by thinking from the perspective of globalization but the beginning of the 21st century may be characterized by the rising role of regionalism or inter-regionalism. At the same time, we should remember that the term ‘regionalism’ has been understood in multiple ways, hence theories and definitions of region and regionalism may differ substantially.

The main goal of this chapter is a brief description of the competition between regionalism and globalization in the international system, observed especially at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the characteristics of the main regional integration theories and approaches to regionalism. The analysis in the second part will focus on classical regional integration theories, with just a brief description of contemporary ones, as 21st century theories of regionalism and regional integration, as well as regional security complexes, will be discussed in subsequent chapters.

←15 | 16→

Regionalism and Globalization

Regionalism was not a new phenomenon in the 1990s, but optimism about the future, exemplified by pundits predicting ‘the end of history’,1 as well as theoreticians of globalization definitely prevailed. The latter published many prominent books at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, including The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization by Thomas Friedman,2 and Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture by David Held, Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt, and Jonathan Perraton,3 or Why Globalization Works by Martin Wolf,4 to a certain extent responding to rising concerns expressed by Joseph Stiglitz in his Globalization and Its Discontents.5

But despite this optimistic approach towards globalization, focusing on global integration, cooperation, and sometimes challenges, we could already observe the growing role of regional issues in international relations in the 1990s. This was connected, as described by Louise Fawcett and Andrew Hurrell, with a set of reasons, including: firstly, significant growth in the number, scope, and diversity of different regional institutions, including micro-regional schemes for economic integration, and macroeconomic regional blocks; secondly, the fact that regionalism and different regional endeavors were observed in all parts of the globe, actually to some extent concurrent with globalization, understood in the form of the blurring of borders between nation states and the increasing role of transnational links; thirdly, the borders between developing and developed worlds were vanishing, including regional projects; fourthly, new regionalism has somehow removed distinctions between political and economic regionalism, creating a multidimensional phenomenon; fifthly, the new problem of international order, with regionalism as a principle ordering the system, has appeared.6 Regionalism ←16 | 17→(understood as international relations regionalization, hence increased regional links and regional institutions building) may also be perceived as a transmission belt between global politics and domestic constraints, and recent analyses take into account regional orders as an important level for analysis (within the three-level concept of domestic, regional and global). Such an approach, having regional orders as jointly influenced by globalization and domestic politics, and influencing domestic politics at the same time is promoted in the model introduced by Etel Solingen and Joshua Malnight.7

The post-Cold War era, but especially the early 21st century, may be characterized by the growth of regionalism, understood twofold, as regional integration, but also regional rivalry, including regional conflicts. Moreover, regionalism, to a large extent has been driven by selected powers, either regional or global leaders. Such approaches were somehow addressed in two contradictory publications, which play an important role for the authors of this book. In 2003 Barry Buzan and Ole Weaver published a book Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security, introducing the concept of ‘regional security complexes’, and analyzing this in reference to eleven regions of different structures (three regions with a dominant power – North America, Europe, post-Soviet Space, one region with two powers – East Asia, and seven regular security complexes). Buzan and Weaver’s analysis focuses not only on regional integration, but to large extent on regional competition and conflicts, as well as the conditions causing them.8 In 2005 Peter Katzenstein published A World of Regions: Asia and Europe in the American Imperium, focusing on the role of exogenous factors in the forming of a region (i.e. U.S.’s influence), and discussing differences between more developed regionalism in Europe juxtaposed with less advanced Asian regionalism, as well as analyzing the role of globalization in the ‘porosity’ of regions.9 In both cases we may have some doubts about how regions are constructed, and to a large extent we may say the constructivist approach was at the core of understanding the term ‘region’, followed by analytic eclecticism ←17 | 18→as a research methodology in analyzes driving those books.10 Such a multidimensional approach, as characterized by both the books of Buzan and Weaver, as well as of Katzenstein, seem to be the best analytical tool for understanding and explaining contemporary phenomena of international relations in a world struggling between regionalism and globalization, but facing more and more isolationist challenges stemming from nationalist resentments.

Theories of Regional Integration11

As regionalism is not a new phenomenon, and the first wave of regional integration dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, regional integration theories are rooted in that period. Global politics at that time was driven by great power rivalry, focusing on two blocks. The first one revolved around the United States, with regional groupings like the Rio Pact of 1947 (actually Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO of 1949, the Pacific Security Treaty (known as ANZUS, because of the membership of Australia, New Zealand and the United States) of 1951, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization – SEATO of 1954, or the Central Treaty Organization of 1955 (initially known as the Baghdad Pact12). The second one was controlled by the Soviet Union with the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance – COMECOM of 1949 and the Warsaw Pact (formally Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance) of 1955. Hence regionalism to a large extent was driven by exogenous factors. Despite those aforementioned blocks, regional integration has ←18 | 19→evolved especially in Europe, with the Council of Europe (formed in 1949) and the European Communities (formed in 1951 with the Paris Treaty and 1957 with Treaty of Rome). Other continents followed but faced more regional institutional challenges. We observed the formation of the League of Arab Nations in 1945, the Organization of African Unity – OAU in 1963, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN in 1967, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – SAARC in 1985. Those efforts resulted also in the creation of regional integration or regionalism theories that were further developed in the 1990s and the early 21st century.

Biographical notes

Andrzej Mania (Volume editor) Marcin Grabowski (Volume editor) Tomasz Pugacewicz (Volume editor)

Andrzej Mania is Professor at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations and head of the Chair of Diplomatic History and International Politics and Chair of American Studies. He specializes in American Studies and diplomatic history. Marcin Grabowski is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. His research interests focus on the Asia-Pacific Rim, American and Chinese foreign policies, theories of International Relations and International Economics. Tomasz Pugacewicz is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Political Science and International Relations of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. His research interests focus on Foreign Policy Analysis, U.S. and Polish foreign policy decision making, history of International Relations in the U.S.


Title: Global Politics in the 21st Century