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Bringing social cohesion into the equation of regional integration

The case of Southern Africa

Ndangwa Noyoo

Social cohesion is a powerful force that has helped to change and reshape the political landscape of southern Africa in the last four decades. However, social cohesion is rarely factored into regional integration endeavors in this part of Africa, which are in the main, geared towards economic imperatives. With economic development as the primary objective of nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the assumption here seems to centre on the notion that once the region has been economically integrated, then human development would follow. This thinking is in line with the neo-liberal paradigm of “trickle down” economics which has not been very helpful to states of this region. Nonetheless, this lop-sided view of regional integration has a history.

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Rights, mobility, and cohesion as building blocks for regional integration

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Regional integration is generally discussed in terms of supranational political cooperation and the integration of economic markets. Since its inception, this journal has noted that political and academic discussions of regionalism focus more on the integration of territories and markets than on the role that people play in these processes. This issue of Regions & Cohesion directly addresses this by “bringing the people back in.”

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Arab Spring as a sign of continuity and change

Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

In the editorial note of the first issue of Regions & Cohesion, we directly asked ourselves and our readers: What role do people play in regional integration processes? Regions have, indeed, developed in different ways and for different reasons. One of the main questions behind the mission of this journal asks: Are territories serving their citizens, or do citizens serve the needs of expanding territories and interconnected markets?

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Fostering peace through dialogue

The international social democratic movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pentti Väänänen

The Socialist International (SI), the worldwide forum of the socialist, social democratic, and labor parties, actively looked for a solution to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in the 1980s. At that time, the Israeli Labour Party still was the leading political force in Israel, as it had been historically since the foundation of the country. The Labour Party was also an active member of the SI. The Party’s leader, Shimon Peres, was one of its vice-presidents. At the same time, the social democratic parties were the leading political force in Western Europe. Several important European leaders, many of them presidents and prime ministers, were involved in the SI’s work. They included personalities such as Willy Brandt of Germany; former president of the SI, Francois Mitterrand of France; James Callaghan of Great Britain; Bruno Kreisky of Austria; Bettini Craxi of Italy; Felipe Gonzalez of Spain; Mario Soares of Portugal; Joop de Uyl of the Netherlands; Olof Palme of Sweden; Kalevi Sorsa of Finland; Anker Jörgensen of Denmark; and Gro Harlem Brudtland of Norway—all of whom are former vice-presidents of the SI. As a result, in the 1980s, the SI in many ways represented Europe in global affairs, despite the existence of the European Community (which did not yet have well-defined common foreign policy objectives).

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La primavera de las rebeliones populares árabes

Gilberto Conde

*Full editorial is in Spanish

Las rebeliones populares árabes de 2011 constituyen uno de esos raros acontecimientos que sacuden al mundo y de los que se seguirá hablando durante décadas. A menudo nos acostumbramos a situaciones cómodamente cotidianas olvidando que el cambio, lo impermanente, es lo único continuo. Los recientes movimientos árabes son una prueba de ello. Quizás se popularizó llamar “primavera árabe” a estos sucesos por lo refrescante y agradable que resultaba ver desde fuera lo que acontecía en una región en la que se pensaba que el tiempo se había congelado, en sociedades que se pensaban inmutables. Todos los autores aquí reunidos, especialistas en estudios del Medio Oriente, consideramos importante estudiar, entender estas rebeliones, y analizar qué es lo que cambia y lo que permanece. ¿Una región pulsante, activa, es una región cohesionada? Queremos averiguarlo; por ello este número especial de Regiones y Cohesión y mis siguientes reflexiones a manera de introducción.

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Law, Politics, Justice, and Society

Israel in a Comparative Context

Gad Barzilai

Law is an important ingredient in politics, and politics is an important layer in law. Law is always being shaped, formed, articulated, and enforced in the context of socio-political power relations. This is true regarding any political regime, and it is also true in Israel. While the number of publications on law and society in Israel is vast and multi-disciplinary, edited volumes on law, politics, and society in Israel are relatively rare. Hence, the initiative of the Israel Studies Review to dedicate its first guest-edited issue to the topic “Law, Politics, Justice, and Society: Israel in a Comparative Context” is certainly an encouraging move as part of a more general effort to promote research on the multifaceted aspects of Israel’s society, nation-state, law, and political regime.

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Unraveling the Syrian revolution

Michael Provence

Since March 2011, Syrian citizens have challenged their government through street protests and, more recently, armed confrontations. Both the protest movement and the government’s response to it have their roots in the recent past. This article examines the contours of the last decade, and events in Syria since 2011, to understand the origins of popular protest and the origins of the Syrian government’s largely military response. Protest and dissent appeared after Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. The government’s response to such protest was not predetermined, but was rather the result of specific governing structures and political choices made by state elites.

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Comments on the Zero Draft of Rio+20 outcome document

Caritas Luxembourg and Norry Schneider

The first version of the declaration (“Outcome Document”) for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or ”Rio+20”), the “Zero Draft”, was released by the UNCSD Secretariat in January 2012. The 19-page document is based on a compilation of inputs received from United Nations (UN) member States and other stakeholders, and it outlines a vision for building a sustainable world. This piece is part of a Caritas Luxembourg position paper sent early February 2012 to the Ministry for sustainable development and infrastructure of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures, or MDDI), in order to inform Luxembourgish government’s position on sustainable development prior to the Rio+20 conference.

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Editor's Note

Yoram Peri and Paul L. Scham

From time to time we are reminded that Israel is a paradise for scholars, particularly in the social sciences. It serves, not just as a laboratory with easy access to virtually any research field, but also as a sort of societal particle accelerator within which processes are speeded up and lengthy periods of incubation are not required for researchers to study their development.

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Index of Previous Issues

Fall 1985 to Winter 2011

Index of Previous Issues: Fall 1985 to Winter 2011