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Un futuro mondo di regioni?


The US Empire is declining and leaving a power vacuum. China will not fill the gap, nor the European Union (EU) with its recent experience of how colonialism ended. The state system is also fading, with regions gaining in importance.

There are so far four regions, the EU, African Union (AU), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Three new regions are developing: Latin America-Caribbean (LA), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC, from Morocco to Mindanao) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with China, Russia and four Central Asian Republics as members, and India, Pakistan and Iran as observers, by far the largest regional grouping, with about 40% of humanity.


The EU, being today the most mature of these regional associations after centuries of internal warfare, can first of all serve as a model for other regions with its close economic and cultural cooperation.


Second, the EU could be a useful model in sub-regions with crisis, as could also the Nordic Community (Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and three small islands), as well as ASEAN:


*a Middle East Community, bringing together Israel (in its pre-1967 borders) with its five Arab neighbors: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and an internationally recognized Palestine.


*a Central Asian Community, bringing together Afghanistan and the eight bordering countries, all Muslim.


*a West Asian Community, Turkey-Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan, all Muslim, with Iraq-Iran-Armenia-Azerbaijan, as a bridge between Islam and the West.


*a Caucasian Community, Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan, with special status for Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh, and with a lower house for the more than twenty nations in the region.


This model function of the EU is based on five positive peace factors: cooperation for mutual benefit, equality, structural similarity of the member states, cooperation in all directions and a joint organization.


Third, the crucial point, however, would be how the EU relates to the other six regions. And here the five points model could be used again, for regions rather than for states.


However, for the EU to play a friendly peace-building role it should not provoke fear but better be nonaligned, basing its security on defensive defense rather than on “Rapid Deployment Forces". Global peacekeeping is a function for a world organization, not for any regional association. The EU should give up both direct interventionist violence, and the structural violence of extracting resources from other parts of the world.


The EU would have to do what China may be steering toward: self-sufficiency in resources, for instance by becoming less oil and gas dependent. This is almost mandatory given the need to reduce carbon emissions. And the EU has to be useful to others, which comes easily for such a resourceful region that through colonialism has stimulated demand for its considerable cultural, scientific and technical resources.


The big question is how to relate for mutual and equal benefit. Any effort to squeeze resources out of the Third World should be abandoned in favor of exchange at the same level of processing, giving up all protective tariffs against processed products from the Third World. The EU will have to adjust to a decreasing role in total world trade; South-South trade is bound to increase.


And the same goes for culture: a regional system based on mutual and equal benefit would demand dialogue, mutual respect and curiosity, not one-way culture traffic. Is the EU ready to learn from others non-Western thought and languages?


One of the gifts of the EU model to other regions and sub-regions is the division between a Council for States –territorial– and a Commission for the Departments
–functional– with seven commissions working for peace by peaceful means. A dream worth dreaming, and acting upon.


And with the rapid growth of civil society regionally and globally, other regions are now approaching the “underbrush” condition so fruitful when the former “European Economic Community” came into being. African, Latin American and Asian NGOs are lobbying in Brussels, so are European NGOs in Nairobi and Addis Abeba. There is nothing utopian in what is written here, rather, it is amazing how quickly the world evolves.


But, a key test is the fifth factor: a joint multilateral organization at the center of a regional world. A UR, United Regions? Why not, with no veto power given to a few regions, but maybe decisions by consensus to start with. There would be a United Regions People’s Assembly, maybe based on regional parliaments where they exist, and in the future on direct elections. And the secretariat could rotate from one region to the other, as has been done successfully in the EU. No need to repeat such United Nations errors as veto, no popular mandate and permanent location in a very biased environment.


The challenges are there. Will the response be creative? (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)


(*) Johan Galtung, professor of Peace Studies and Founder of TRANSCEND, a peace-development-environment network. His most recent book is “The Fall of the US Empire–And Then What?”

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