The Revival of Regionalism: Cure for Crisis or Prescription for Conflict?

  • Timothy M. Shaw


The continuing continental crisis, of underdevelopment rather than drought, highlights the distance between rhetoric and reality in African regionalism. It also draws attention to the distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ regionalisms, that is, between formal and comprehensive declarations on the one hand and informal and specific arrangements on the other. If the crisis led to re-evaluations of development direction — the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and self-reliance4 — it also generated reconsiderations of regionalist doctrine — from free trade areas and common services to sectoral and infrastructural agreements. In short, the future of Africa’s development policies in general and regional proposals in particular has led over the last difficult decade to a redefinition of both, in which national and collective self-reliance are taken to be the criterion of development. Regionalism remains an imperative but it has been largely restated to fit current needs, experiences and contexts. As Sam Asante laments:

By 1980 — when the LPA was adopted — almost all the economic cooperation schemes optimistically launched in the 1960s — the halcyon years of African integration — had become largely moribund.5


Foreign Policy Regional Integration World System Regional Cooperation African State 
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Copyright information

© Ralph I. Onwuka and Timothy M. Shaw 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy M. Shaw

There are no affiliations available

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