Regional System in International Relations

The fifties and sixties of the twentieth century witnessed vigorous attempts to develop a scientific basis showing the various sources of interpretation within the framework of what was known as the profound revolution that touched the fields of study related to the analysis of international relations, whether in terms of concepts, or in terms of the approaches and theoretical frameworks in circulation, so a new concept emerged from this revolution adopted by the behavioral school and taken as the scientific basis in international interactions analysis and is what is known  as the level of analysis – the Levels of Analisis , and is both  Kent Waltz – Kinneth Woltz  and  David Singer – Dived Singer  and  Morten Kaplan – Morten Kaplen  of the most prominent thinkers , which is due to two credit entry The concept in the analysis of international situations, but they differed over what level of analysis should be relied upon ?, Waltz focused  At the level of the international system, that is, the necessity to focus on the interactions that occur between the major powers. As for  Kaplan  and  Singer,  they preferred to focus on the state level (unity), while  Barry Bouzen  emphasized the “regional level” as a logical component of the analysis which is the subject of study in This article.

The concept of territorial system:

The word “ system  ” means a group of units that are linked by relationships and are considered as pillars, and the relationships between units are distinguished by the possibility of communication and mutual influence within the organizational structure.

And it has been defined  by Charles McClelland – Charles Maclellen  that: ” the structure of its elements linked to and interacting with each other and have boundaries separating them from their environment and their surroundings.”

As for  Hofman, he  defines it as: “The model for relations between base states”.

Whereas Holsti defined   it as: “a group of related political units – whether tribes, states, or empires – interacting with one another regularly according to ordered paths.”

In general, we can say that the system in its general meaning or in its simplest sense is a group of units that are linked with each other to form a coherent and interacting whole that is difficult to divide, since if a defect occurs in a part, it results in the imbalance of all the parts.

As for the term   Régional System,  there are no clear and precise criteria for its definition, as Joseph Ney previously    mentioned that many hours were wasted at the United Nations in San Francisco in 1954 in an attempt to develop an accurate definition of the region, but to no avail.

But this does not mean that there are no endeavors and attempts by researchers and academics to define a regional system, and before addressing the various attempts we must first distinguish between two perspectives to deal with this concept. First, the term  Sub System is used,  which refers to the dismantling of the international system into systems. And this is based on the hypothesis of  Oran Yong,  on the grounds that some regions are characterized by a degree of  discontinuity and  privacy that distinguishes them from other regions, and the second of them, the regional system is used that deals with the grouping of neighboring countries that belong to a specific geographical region and share common interactive characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the regions. .

Therefore, the subsystem is the dismantling of the international system into subsystems, while the regional system is concerned with the grouping of states into regional systems.

Hani Elias Al-Hadithi defined   it as: “A group of countries belonging to one region and linked by factors of interest and loyalty, so that they provide the basis for their regional dealings on a sense of distinction and integration, in the areas of security and economy. It is a method of practice if and dealing between different countries that belong to one region. “.

As for  Brous Rousite,  he gave five criteria for defining the regional system, namely the necessity of cultural and social homogeneity, geographical convergence, political positions and external behavior, political institutions, and economic interdependence.

Louis Cantari  and  Steven Speige  (the two professors who are credited with developing regional studies) defined  it as: “A system consisting of two or more states that are close and interact with each other and have common ethnic, linguistic, regional, social and historical ties. Actions and the position of countries outside the system contribute to an increase in the sense of its regional identity.

As for  Thompson,  he defined it as: “a relatively regular and intense pattern of interactions, which is recognized internally and externally as a distinct course, and is being constructed and maintained by two or more neighboring parties”.

Accordingly, based on the various definitions presented, we can say that the issue of defining the regional system accurately is a very complex issue due to the difference in visions among researchers, while Hani Elias Al-  Hadithi focused   on the necessity of geographical convergence and considered it the basis of regional differentiation, we find  Bruce Rosset  focusing on the need for economic symmetry As for  Louis Kantori  and  Spiegel,  they drew attention to the aspect absent in the rest of the definitions, which is the cultural aspect through a sense of cultural awareness, while  Thompson  stresses the necessity of political, economic and cultural interactions between countries as a vital factor for every regional system.

From it, based on the aforementioned definitions and based on the difference in the thinkers ’views, we can enumerate the most important determinants of the regional system, through which we can describe a system as a regional system in the following:

  1. The necessity of the presence of one or more actors.
  2. Geographical proximity, meaning the necessity of belonging to a specific geographical area.
  3. The intensity of the interactions between units and their difference from the interactions of other regions, that is, they must contain a degree of privacy.
  4. The power of social, economic and cultural homogeneity, i.e. regional awareness and the formation of a regional identity.

The importance of the regional system as a level of analysis:

Oran Young has answered   the question: What is the role of the regional level in analyzing international situations? By saying: “Because regional societies remain stronger than human society,” after the Cold War it became clear to researchers in global politics that the number of factors and the diversity of their nature increased due to the ongoing transformations at the global level. In the regional order, as Katzenstein answered the   question of how international politics should be viewed after the Cold War? By saying as a scientist regions.

Therefore, the study of regional systems seeks to achieve three (3) basic objectives:

  1. Help the researcher to develop an interactive framework for political units within the subsystems.
  2. It helps the researcher to conduct a comparative study between two international subsystems.
  3. It helps the researcher to study the relationship between a subsystem and an international system.

Regional systems also include five dimensions that must be relied upon to understand and analyze the various internal and external interactions that are called structural features of the system:

  1. Units of the system:  They are the active forces in the region, that is, the important actors in the region.
  2. Interaction: the  degree of interaction between units of the system, whether it is conflict or cooperative.
  3. Environment:  Every system has an environment in which it is created, nurtured, and interacted within its framework.
  4. Boundries:  They are the boundaries that separate one regional system from another.
  5. Structure of the system: the  properties and components of the force and how to distribute them. Or distributed to all countries of the region?

Sources and references:

Abdul-Qader Dandan, Rising Regional Roles in International Relations, (Amman: Academic Book Center, 2015).

Jihad Odeh, The International System _ Theories and Problems_, (Lebanon: Dar Al-Hoda for Publishing and Distribution, 2005).

Jassas Lubna, The Role of Regional Groups in Achieving Regional Security, Case Study: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Unpublished Master’s Degree in Political Science, (Biskra University: Faculty of Law and Political Science, 2009_2010)

Ayad Mohamed Samir, The Chinese Role in the Regional System of South Asia between Continuity and Change 1991_2006, Unpublished Master’s Degree in Political Science, (University of Algeria: Faculty of Law and Political Science, 2003_2004)

 Hani Elias Al-Hadithi, Pakistan’s Regional Politics 1971_1994, (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1998)

Bruse Russett , Regional or Global : what can international organization do ?.

Michelle Pace, The politics of regional identity :medding with medditterran, (london : routledge, 2006)

 Nassif Youssef Hitti, Theory in International Relations, (Beirut: Arab Book House, 1985).

 Fawaz Gerges, The Arab Regional System and the Five Big Powers: A Study of Arab-International and Arab-Arab Relations, (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1998)

Ali Al-Din Hilal and Jamal Matar, The Arab Regional System, A Study of Arab Political Relations, (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1986)

James Dorty and Robert Balstegraf, Conflicting Theories in International Relations, translated by Walid Abdel-Hay, (Kuwait: Kazma Publishing, Distribution and Translation, 1985)

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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