The United Nations University is an international community of scholars engaged in research, postgraduate training and the dissemination of knowledge aimed at furthering the principle of the Charter of UN.
Within the UNU family, UNU-CRIS conducts research and policy-oriented analyses and undertakes capacity building in the area of regional integration.
The present document is the second annual report of UNU-CRIS. We are thus still a very young organisation and in 2003 our activities have been focused upon further developing the internal expertise and upon positioning ourselves both in the academic world as within the UN system. And gradually a number of key areas and focuses are emerging as well as a common vision on our aims and aspirations.
Regional integration is a complex and multi-faceted process that is related to many different policy areas. At this stage, we are focussing upon four major thematic aspects of regional integration:
(i) Peace and human security;
(ii) Economic and social development;
(iii) Governance of regional and global problems and
(iv) Regional identity.
These thematic aspects are approached in function of contributing to the following goals:
• Contribute to the visioning of how to realise multi-level regional integration;
• Contribute to a better understanding of the relations between micro- and macro regionalisms;
• Monitor the implementation and impact of regional integration;
• Strengthen the capacity at local, national and regional levels of governments, industry and civil society for handling regional integration.
This annual report starts with a presentation of some major activities undertaken in 2003 and summarises the different projects and programmes that are running. A complete list of the publications and of the meetings and events organised is also included.
To give the reader a feel of our subject, we also included a brief overview of the main 2003 regional integration events in the world.
Regional integration, like globalisation, has the potential to enhance welfare, promote growth, and foster peace and security. Overall, UNU-CRIS is driven by the idea that regional integration can possibly help shaping effective and efficient global governance systems and help realising the UN millennium development goals. But regional integration can also have unintended negative implications and its benefits might be unevenly distributed. This is why we also adopt a critical perspective in analysing regional integration!
Luk Van Langenhove