Why Regionalism?

For better or for worse, Europe has historically been the centre of the world from the modern era onwards, creating different peripheries that were required to adopt European faiths, social organisation and legal systems. The influence of Europe in the other continents is an historical fact that deserved to be revisited from a legal point of view. So too, ‘feedback’ from the other regions about Europe and its approach to international law, if there is any, needed to be examined.

Spain —again, for better or for worse— has had an influence on these regional perspectives. This is one of the reasons why regionalism was chosen as the theme of the Biennial Conference in Valencia. Another reason is that regionalism, from a legal perspective, revisited one of the leitmotifs of ESIL, i.e. the unity and fragmentation of current international law. We have already discussed this from a specialisation perspective, from a purely theoretical perspective and from a judicial perspective. A regional perspective was added to ESIL’s research acquis.

Rather than a ‘horizontal’ view and analysis of regionalism, the conference looked at regionalism from different viewpoints in order to assess the existence of new centres and peripheries. The focus shifts from economic development to access to technology, from new generations of human rights to the immaterial concepts of groups and ethnicity, as well as taking other variables into account, in order to foster new approaches to regionalism and its impact on international law. Hence, along with two keynote speakers, there were eight fora and eight agorae where we discussed so many different aspects of regionalism that we believed a complete 360-degree view of the subject will be provided.

In addition, the seven ESIL Interest Groups met on Thursday morning, as did the editors of leading International Law journals. On Saturday morning, ESIL held its General Assembly.