Publication Date: 

Regional integration has become more important in a world increasingly characterised by globalisation, complexity and uncertainty.  In the past decade there has been an increase in the number of regional integration agreements, together with a renewal and strengthening of many existing integration arrangements.  Regional integration is no longer concerned with trade but also with cooperation along different dimensions such as culture, politics, security and diplomacy.  Therefore, we can see that regionalism presents new challenges to governance models all over the world.

UNU/CRIS wants to develop a prospective approach to regional integration that focuses on the multi-level characteristics of regional integration and upon the embedding of any given regional integration scheme in ongoing changes in the world order system.  Also, we need to deepen our understanding of how regionalisation can help developing countries to benefit from the processes of globalisation and to protect themselves from the dark sides of globalisation.

This report offers information on the start-up of UNU/CRIS, a research and training programme of the United Nations University focused on comparative regional integration studies.  2002 was an exiting year for UNU/CRIS as the number of researchers and research projects increased and first results became available.

UNU/CRIS in 2002; some facts and figures…

  • 14 workshops and conferences were organised;
  • 10 projects in collaboration with more than 30 partners started;
  • more than 30 papers and publications were produced;
  • 16 % of the budget came from external contracts.

The mission of UNU/CRIS is to contribute towards achieving the  universal goals of the UN through comparative and interdisciplinary  research and training for better understanding of the processes and  impact of intra- and inter-regional integration.  Our aim is to build policy-relevant knowledge about new forms of governance and co-operation, and to contribute to capacity building on issues of  integration and co-operation particularly in developing countries.  In the pursuit of this aim, we will work in partnership with initiatives and centres throughout the world that are concerned with issues of integration and cooperation, and that share our concerns and values.

In 2002 we have built up the internal capacity and external networks to realise this mission. We also developed a strategic plan for the next two years. I hope this report will demonstrate that UNU/CRIS is well on track.

We look forward to this future phase with enthusiasm and energy, and express the hope that our work will bring benefit to both students and practitioners in the area of regional integration, in every part of the world.

Luk Van Langenhove, Director