In my last article in this magazine, I referred to the structure of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and its system of decision-making as being antiquated. This was on the basis that PIF’s type of regionalism is voluntary. Members are not legally bound to the decisions they make at the regional level. I suggested the prospect of its reconsideration as a means of enhancing the benefits to members.
I also pointed to the deficiencies in regional cooperation, regional integration for example, in the last 49 years of PIF’s existence, as areas to be redressed for greater benefits to members.
The direct implication of that hinted at a decision-making process that would be a reversal of the status quo: Involuntary regionalism, which would mean binding decisions at the regional level. Furthermore, that would necessitate derogation of sufficient state power to the region to enable the latter to make those decisions.
From my perspective, as one schooled in the classical Barassa model of regionalism – linear, with regional economic integration—advanced economic union, for example—and having worked 14 years in the European Union that exemplifies such a model, my assumption of eventual derogation of power from the states to the region was one I had thought to be a natural progression for Pacific regionalism. But it is not to be.
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