Pax Integrationem? Exploring Institutional Responses to Regional Security Challenges
The research program on regional integration in International Relations scholarship has been enriched by several generations of scholars. However, the effects of regional integration projects (RIs) on peace and conflict dynamics remain largely understudied. The literature on the theme often exclusively focuses on the positive impacts of these processes, whereas the potentially negative side-effects of regional integration on peace (such as a rivalry over regional leadership, exclusion of important regional actors, and/or competition over borderlands that may belong to more than one region) tend to be critically underestimated. To what extent and under which conditions do RIs increase and/or decrease tensions and conflicts in a given regional setting? Guided by this question, this working paper shows that there are three distinctive perspectives on peace and regional integration: the logic of conflict transformation and community-building, the logic of balancing and regional autonomy, and the logic of hegemonic leadership and regional stability. Building on these perspectives, the paper argues that regional integration is not a panacea for regional conflict transformation: RIs may have both positive and negative impacts on regional security dynamics depending on the types of specific social relationships being influenced by the development of RIs.