[Article] Regional Organizations in International Peace Building and Economic Development.


Westphalian arrangement[1] is regarded as the first civilized premeditated international effort to bring peace through coordination. It was first global attempt after ancient system of international governance as provided by Chanakya[2] that how state should behave with its neighbour. Due to change in time and advancement in science and technology has led to era globalization and industrialization transcended the traditional system of governance which was limited to territorial boundary and only few transboundary connection with regard to trade and diplomacy was allowed as state were reluctant to create more international ties. With advent of economic liberalization and rise of post colonial new states compelled new state to enter into regional integration in order to become self relient. On the other hand the approach of multilateral cooperation and changing approach of traditional system of recognition jumped to allow the role of non state actors and international civil societies adding impetus towards formational of regional organizations. This 20th century experienced vast range of changed[3].

Era of globalization, advancement of technology and trade has increased the global political challenges. As in international governance we can easily draw inference from single question that if regional intergovernmental organization existed before first and second world war can we imagine about peace and tranquillity which had not given rise to use of force or war or what would have happened if we would have established such regional intergovernmental regional organization in pre-colonial era than present system of international governance and relations among states would have different nuances. Anyway neither research nor academics can change history if we will see the legal validity of all international intergovernmental regional organization after the advent of UN system of international sovereign governance by respecting the principle of sovereign equality of all the countries. We will find that all international regional organizations enjoys support of United Nations system.

Legal validity to International Regional organizations

Charter of United Nations under chater-8 promotes regional cooperation among the states. The only reason behind this legal recognition is to achieve regional peace and economic prosperity. The other prime cause is UN system is overburdened with international crisis situation across the globe. It makes ii impossible for any single institution to negotiate directly.

Secondly, regional problem of conflict, economic discrimination can be solved rapidly with regional participation rather than participation of third party or other institutions which may be questioned for intervention which violates international rule of law.

Thirdly western influence and divide between the developed and developing countries has increased reliance on regional participation rather than going trans-regional because of its close geographical impact as well as democratic , culturally intact origin supports regionalism which is not a wrong perception.

The above mentioned reasons and circumstances has refined the wesphalian and neo-liberal practice which seems fit into changing geopolitical structure where rgo’s has played vital role in preventive diplomacy.


THOMAS ADOUMASSE (Benin) at United Nations meeting in 2015 presented his view that associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, he said regional organizations were key instruments for confronting contemporary security challenges, with the Charter tasking them with first response in certain situations. Several regional organizations had acquired competence in that regard. The role of regional and subregional organizations must be considered when tackling such challenges as terrorism and violent extremism. Cooperation between the United Nations and African Union had “proven its worth”, allowing AMISOM and UNAMID to register remarkable progress, especially in dealing with Al-Shabaab. Greater cohesion in action had been achieved through regular consultations between the Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council, amid more flexible use of the Charter’s Chapter VIII. It was important to address pending issues. The European Union was in the forefront of cooperating with regional and subregional organizations, especially in settling conflict and creating the conditions for peace and security[5].

DENIS RÉGIS (Haiti), expressed his view by saying that noting is expanding and evolving threats to international peace and security, said that the place of regional organizations in addressing them had often been ambiguous and badly defined. However, such organizations remained essential. Due to national interests, the Council was frequently constrained from urgent intervention in emerging conflicts and in such cases regional organizations could often provide early assistance to the peaceful settlement of disputes. Regional organizations could better integrate peacebuilding with efforts to address root causes of conflict, such as extreme poverty. 

MR. JOON (Republic of Korea) who joined the speakers and praised the “courageous insight” embedded in Chapter VIII of the Charter, which foretold the need for the organization to establish deeper cooperation with regional organizations. Compared to 70 years ago, the international community was facing a vastly different set of security challenges and threats. In coping with those challenges, regional organizations were increasingly playing an important role, including in such places as Somalia, Mali, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi. Furthermore, the successful response of the African Union to counter the Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlighted the convening power, political leverage and regional outreach of a regional organization that could swiftly bring together expertise from around the affected region. The Republic of Korea was one of the co-sponsors of Council resolution 2167 (2014) and maintained the belief that it should serve as the guide for future relationships between the Council and the various organs of regional organizations. In its own region, the country had put forward the idea of the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, which sought to build consensus on softer, yet critical issues such as climate change, environment, disaster relief and nuclear safety, and to develop a habit of cooperation among regional players.

Regional intergovernmental organizations like ECOWAS(Economic Community of West African State),which has played important role in maintenance of peace with help of United Nations peace keeping operations, ASEAN(Association of South East Asian Nations)[6], SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation), AALCO(Asian African Legal Consultative Organization), OECD(organization of economic cooperation and development) etc. has played vital role in preventive as well as economic diplomacy which has eased the un system of governance. By focussing on regional compatibility the next reason why international regional organizations has gained importance because of the trust, accountability and system of governance which directly consider regionalism which is automatic as well represents the persisting problems of regional communities which is to larger extent is not vibrant in un system of governance because of manifold international crisis that un system of governance look after simultaneously. This makes the un system less effective whereas regional organization agenda is directly and limited to issues prevailing in the region, example OAU has issues of regional conflict in Somalia, Sudan Nigeria along with issues of poverty, hunger. Another example is SAARC, which looks after wide range of issues such as trade, disaster management, food security and maintenance of peace and security in the region. This has boosted peace in the area, capacity building and economic ties in the region. Regional organization like ASEAN has outperformed and credited to contribute in economic prosperity of the region. 

Here in this paper, I have included two aspects of intergovernmental organizations. First is its role in maintenance of the peace building and second is role of international organizations in achieving economic prosperity in the region. In 21st century function of governance has transcend international boundary because of globalization and privatization. This has resulted to rise in conflict of laws adding more disputes among the individuals and government institutions. Now an important question is that which institution can give best result in conflict resolution through effective power that can be obeyed by all. The answer to this problem lies with modern international intergovernmental regional organization which has all power and validation by act of treaty making consensus among the regional nations, this is the logic how number of regional or geographically similar or closed nations entered into treaty to form international regional organization based westphalian principle/ UN charter principle (sovereign equality, amicable settlement of dispute). Further Signing of memorandum of understanding has increased sphere of influence on diverse range of issues of trade, energy to meet the demands of common people, climate change, terrorism, extradition, humanitarian and disaster linked programme.

Regional organization and sustainable development goals[7]

Regional organization has expended its pivotal role in increasing the effectiveness of world action plan for sustainable development (post 2015 SDG’S). Secretary General of UNs realising the role of regional organization has encouraged intergovernmental regional organization to adhere to the un charter principle and to work for world peace to negotiate for conflict resolution. Further it can also contribute to economic cooperation and trade.

Regional organization in promoting Economic cooperation

WTO (GATT, Article –XXIV), encourages nations to enter into regional arrangement. WTO acts as the repository to all regional trade agreement which establishes regional trade areas in consonance with the regional organizations like SAFTA. NAFTA, BIMSTEC. After rise Brettonwood institutions to beat economic slowdown and Marshall plan of united sates for upliftment of Europe. In one way or other way it can be said that rise of regional organizations has replied to developed countries that developing countries through its regional cooperation can become self relient in trade and commerce to escape WTO discriminatory attitude on wide range of issues such as food stocking and agreement on agriculture related to subsidy and public rationing system which is important ingredient in economy. Rise of new banking system in region such as New Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank etc. are results of regional organizations effort to fortify economic condition in the region which is primarily controlled by US and European countries.


International scholar’s view on regional intergovernmental organization and united nations system is divided in two distinct ideology. First ideology, supports and give primacy to UN system and is of the opinion that regional organizations have very little role to play. They consider regional organization as incidental to regionalism which is leading to fragmentation of international law and adding complexity to international relations. Second ideology, conveys that although regional organization’s role is limited but equally important as it is the geography, community and cultural links that attracts regional organization to look after and to resolve regional crisis amicably and peaceful manner.

Modern approach towards regional organization is preferential and it suggest for formation of regional organizations in order to give quick and instant solution to regional issues by collaborative effort and mutual cooperation. Presently regional organizations are extending its membership to transregional countries example SCO has added india and Pakistan as observer members. Further INDIA-ASEAN meeting, India –East Asia summit is also encouraging trans-regional behaviour of international regional organizations.

Universalism vs. Regionalism

United Nations system supporter gives primacy to approach of universalism, which likes to cover UNs mandate and reject regionalism theory. But real practice is that united Nations system also promotes regionalism and it says that regionalism or rise of regional organizations itself have the validation from united nations system subject to compliance of UN charter objective and principle. This means that regionalism itself flows from the universalism. It is need of present system of governance or in other way formation of international regional organization is itself is process of decentralization in international governance under the umbrella of United Nations mandate. Now actual debate between the universalism and regionalism is danger of division of world into regional blocs which may be detrimental to world peace as happened at the time of world war, but in present system of United Nations it is not possible because of charter provision[8] of United nations are very clear which negates the probability of any such danger to world peace due to regionalism or rise in intergovernmental international regional organizations.


From the above mentioned points it is clear that international regional organizations is the requirement of present day system of international governance and solution to wide range of issues. to in the era of globalization and for the establishment of peace, security and economic prosperity the regional cooperation is only feasible option for third world countries where they can present their issue fearlessly without sovereign distinction and discrimination. Regional organizations like OAS, SAARC, ASEAN has been able to resolve many issues of conflict and established amity among the nations to move in the path of economic prosperity. It has created new banking system such as new development bank, Asian infrastructure investment bank, ADB etc along with FTA’S such as NAFTA, SAFTA etc. these all development are result of negotiation among the regional intergovernmental organizations which has played everlasting role in maintenance of peace and economic prosperity to serve mankind in the region in best possible manner. As regional organization too have some demerits and being criticized to promote regionalism or use of region against developed countries on the issue of food security, trade etc. which is not absolutely correct as third world countries needs special attention at WTO. Still regional organizations are doing fairly smart work to reduce tension between the power blocs by playing neutral role which must be praised. As most of the regional organization enjoys observer status in UN mandate system which means that they basically decentralised hands of united nation which has to be made strong such that these regional organization can perform more. As United Nations financial assistance and financing for development programme has encouraged the capacity of regional organization to work towards attainment of sustainable development to achieve intergenerational equity and make world a better place to live. It may be done by the effort of United Nations or by international regional organization or by both should not be pondered but what counts is peace and economic prosperity in the world.

Mr. Ashutosh Kumar is former Legal officer of inter-governmental organisation AALCO, New Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]

[1] Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, principle of sovereign equality.

[2] Chanakya’s Arthasastra, Ashoka’s principle of governance that how a state should behave with its neigh bour provided in ancient treatise.

[3] R.P Anand, New states and International Law, Quoted General Assembly Resolution indepenedence of stated from colonial subjugation

[4] //www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12011.doc.htm

[6] //www.un.org/press/en/2015/sc12011.doc.htm

[7] Post-2015 sdg adopted by united nations after expiry of millennium development goals( 2005-2015)

[8] Article 103 of UN charter says that in case of any conflict with other treaty or arrangement it is charter of united nations which will prevail over any other instrument

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