Regionalism in the Post-Cold War Era




Regionalism in the Post-Cold War Era:

1. European Union (EU):

The Second World War followed by the Cold War gave rise to constant instability which has always motivated the European countries to come together. It is on this basis that the European Union was established. The European Union began as an organization which wanted to foster economic cooperation. The idea being that countries that trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) were created for this purpose in 1951 and 1957 respectively.

Later these various organizations merged together and were referred to as the European Community. In 1973 an agreement was signed to create a European Parliament. The process of creating a single market for the European Union began in the 1980s and was completed in 1993. The ‘Maastricht’ Treaty was signed on 7th February 1992 to create the European Union (EU). This treaty led to the expansion of spheres of cooperation which now included internal affairs, judicial matters, etc.

The treaty led to the creation of an economic union which had a common currency, the Euro. The euro (€) is the official currency of 19 out of 28 countries of the EU. These countries are collectively known as the Eurozone. The creation of the Schengen Area is one of the greatest achievements of the EU. The Schengen Agreement – covering the abolishment of the internal borders between countries was signed in 1985. The Agreement was signed by the five European countries France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Netherlands, in Schengen, a small village in Southern Luxemburg. The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. The Schengen Area is an area without internal borders. In this area, nationals of EU and even non-EU nationals including business people and tourists can travel from country to country freely and easily. They do not have to go through checks and controls when they pass from one country to another. Today 22 out of the 28 countries of the European Union are part of the Schengen Area.

The Eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.


The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. SAARC comprises of eight Member States: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987. Originally, SAARC had seven members, namely India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. In 2007, Afghanistan was added as the eighth member. Meanwhile, China, the USA, the EU along 9 other nations have been conferred with the 'observer status'. The main aim of SAARC was to establish a dialogue in South Asia. With this context, the South Asian Association for Preferential Trade Arrangement (SAPTA) came into existence in 1993. Later in 2006, SAARC's free trade arrangement was activated through the South Asian Association Free Trade Area (SAFTA) which replaced the earlier regime of SAPTA.


The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi- Sectorial Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization founded in 1997. It is an international organization of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia, housing 1.5 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion (2018). The BIMSTEC member states – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand  – are among the dependent on the Bay of Bengal. BIMSTEC acts as a bridge between South and Southeast Asia and mainly aims to facilitate rapid economic development and promote collaboration on matters of common interests.

4. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS):

BRICS is an association of major emerging national economies created in 2009. Its original members were Brazil, Russia, India, and China. South Africa joined in 2010. Originally the first four were grouped as "BRIC" (or "the BRICs") before the induction of South Africa in 2010. The BRICS have a combined area of about 27% of the world land surface and 41% of the world population. Four out of five members are among the world’s ten largest countries by population and by area, except for South Africa, the twenty-fourth in both. BRICS members are all developing countries or newly industrialized countries. They have large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. All of them are members of G20.

5. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Charter was signed during the St. Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document that outlines the organization’s goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.

The historical meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held on 8-9 June 2017 in Astana. On the meeting, the status of a full member of the Organization was granted to the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The SCO's main goals are as follows: strengthening mutual trust and neighborliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology, and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security, and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

6.  G-20

G-20 is an international forum established in 1999 for governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union. It was formed with a primary aim to discuss policies relating to financial stability. Since 2008, the G-20 Summits are attended by the heads of the government or head of the states along with their finance ministers and foreign ministers. Developed countries like the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Japan among others are a part of the G-20. It thus acts as a platform for discussion between the developed and developing countries. India plays an active part in G-20.

If you would like to contribute notes or other learning material, please submit them using the button below.

      Forgot password?
Use app×