A COMPARATIVE APPRAISAL OF THE WESTERN EUROPEAN UNION AND OTHER EUROPEAN REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS BY ODERINDE MOSOPE* The saying that no entity in existence is an island unto itself is one that is indeed very pertinent; the symbiosis of nation states within the international order lends credence to this assertion. Thus a rapport is established among members of this community in order to survive as evident in agreements of friendship, trade and commerce which they contract with one another.
Also worthy of note, is the fact that these states are considered as the major players in international politics and international organisations provide the platform for their activities. 1 A lot of opinions on what ‘Regional Organisation’ means have been put forward but one cannot undertake an examination of the term without initially having an idea of what an international organisation is since regional organizations are international too (they involve different nations), though restricted to a particular region.
_________________________________________________________________________________ * International Law and Diplomacy Post-graduate Student, University of Lagos. 1 Solomon O. Akinboye and Ferdinand O. Ottoh, A Systematic Approach to International Relations, (2005), (Concept Publications, Lagos) p. 165. According to Plato and Olton (1988), an international organization is a ‘formal arrangement transcending national boundaries that provides for the establishment of an institutional machinery to facilitate cooperation among members in security, economic, social or related fields’.
2 Palmer and Perkins (1969) defines international organisations as any cooperative arrangement instituted among states usually by a basic agreement, to perform some mutually advantageous functions implemented through periodic meetings and staff activities. 3 Such organisations possess a structure established by agreements (a charter) among the sovereign states that make up the forum, with the goal of achieving the aims and protecting their common interests.
In the same vein, as said from the outset, there is a trend for sovereign states to form regional movements or groupings, which are deemed more vital and important than the independent sovereign states in order for an effective integration and mutual relations among such sovereign units. ____________________________________________________________________________2 J. C. Plano and R. Otton, The International Relations Dictionary, (4th ed. 1998), (ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA) p. 416. 3 Norman D. Palmer and Howard C. Perkins, International Relations: The World Community in Transition (1969), (Houghton Miffin Company, New York) p.299.
Within the domestic discourse, a region refers to an area in a sovereign territory i. e they are smaller than states e. g the defunct Western Region of Nigeria while in the global sense, it an area encapsulating the territories of three or more states. Such states are bound together by ties of common interest as well as geography. However their attributes may vary. They may not be found in the same continent e. g. NATO and the Commonwealth or possess the same political systems but they may share certain obvious traits, like language, common interest, historical, spiritual and cultural activities.
4 In consequence, there is a joint responsibility for the amicable settlement of disputes when they arise in order not to truncate the peace and security in their respective regions thereby jeopardizing their interests economically and culturally. 5 Thus a regional organisation is a type of international organisation which is an association of a segment of the world bound together by a common set of objectives based on geographical, social, cultural, economic and political ties possessing a formal structure.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ 4 Supra note 1 p. 168. 5 Supra note 3 p. 559. Undertaking a comparative appraisal of the WEU and some other few European regional institutions (Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) calls for an indepth examination of the nature and peculiarities which each possess(ed) using some yardsticks: (A) RELEVANT TREATY, YEAR, FOUNDING MEMBERS and AIMS.
For the WEU, the organisation was a defensive alliance which grew out of the Brussels Treaty, a cooperative agreement signed by Britain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg on 17 March 1948. However, the treaty was amended and modified on 23 October 1954, to give birth to the institution.
6 From the outset, the treaty of mutual assistance and economic cooperation (Treaty of Brussels) aim was to :(i)preserve the principles of democracy, personal freedom, political liberty, the rules of law and constitutional traditions (ii) to coordinate their efforts so that a firm basis for European Economic Recovery (Marshall plan) might be created in Western Europe (iii) to afford assistance to each other according to the UN charter in resisting a policy of aggression ; and (iv) to take such measures as might be _________________________________________________________________
6 Microsoft Corporation, Western European Union, (2008) Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA. determined to be necessary in the event of a policy of aggression by Germany.
7 Nevertheless, the incorporation of Germany into the organisation in 1954 meant that there no longer exists the threat of a Nazi Germany thereby necessitating the exclusion of the provision of checkmating Germany as a cardinal aim, and incorporating the promotion of the unity and progressive integration of Europe as evident in the preamble of the modified Brussels Treaty. 8 On one hand, there was a call for a ‘United States of Europe’ and the creation of a Council of Europe by the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill in 1946.
9 It came to fruition on 5 May 1949 by the Treaty of London signed by ten States: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. _________________________________________________________________ 7 Microsoft Corporation, Archive article 1948: Western European Union, (2008), Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA. 8 Western European Union, 23 July 2012 cited at http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/westerneuropean 9 Council of Europe: Archiving and Documentary resources, Council of Europe, 23 July 2012 cited at www. coe/int/tldgal/dit/ilcd/fonds/themes/churchill
The organisation promotes cooperation between all countries of Europe in the areas of (i) legal standards (ii) human rights (iii) democratic development (iv) the rule of law and (v) cultural cooperation. 10 Article 1a of the statute of the CoE states that “The aim of the of Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress”.
11 Thus membership is open to all European states which seek European integration, accept and abide by the rule of law and are willing and able to democratize and pledge human rights and personal freedoms. 12 In the same vein, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stemmed from the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) which was formed in 1948 to oversee the implementation of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. 13 _________________________________________________________________10 Council of Europe: 23 July 2012 cited at http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/councilofeurope 11 Council of Europe: 23 July 2012 cited at http://www. coe.int/statute.
12 Council of Europe: 24 July 2012 cited at http://en. wikipedia. org/councilofeurope 13 Christopher Warren, In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era, (1998), (Stanford University Press, Stanford) p. 165. By September 1961, it was transformed into what is now known as the OECD by the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The founding members include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the USA.
14 The organisation describes itself as an assembly of countries committed to democracy and the market economy, comparing policy experiences, seeks solutions to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies. 15 Its area of concern is the economic, social and environmental fronts. The body promotes policies designed (a) to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in member countries, while maintaining financial stability, and thus to contribute to the development of the world economy.
(b) to contribute to sound economic expansion in member as well as non-member countries ________________________________________________________________________________________________________
14Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 23 July 2012 cited at en. wikipedia. org/organizationforeconomiccooperationanddevelopment 15 About OECD 23 July 2012 cited at www. oecd. org/pages/0,3417,en_36734052_36734103_1_1_1_1_1,00. html in the process of economic development and (c) to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis in accordance with international obligations.
16 (B) HEADQUARTERS AND STRUCTURE. The headquarters of the WEU was in Brussels, Belgium and the principal administrative body of the institution was a council divided into two parts – The Council of Ministers which comprised foreign and defence ministers of the ten-member nations and the Permanent Council made up of representatives from member states, responsible for the day to day running of the organisation.
17 Other bodies/agencies within the structure include the Western European Armaments Group established as a forum for armaments cooperation and the Western European Armaments Organisation which was a research cell that provided support services in defence research and technology. Others include the Institute for Security Studies and the Satellite Centre. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16 Supra note 15 17 Supra note 6.
In the same vein, The Council of Europe has its seat in Strasbourg, France and comprises two main bodies – the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly which are the bodies saddled with the responsibility of making decisions for the organization and making recommendations to the Committee of Ministers respectively. The Committee of Ministers comprises the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all 47 member states while the Parliamentary Assembly consists of national parliamentarians from all member states led by a President.
A third body, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) established in 1994 to oversee the strengthening of ties between the council and its local and regional authorities. 18 The Council of Europe is led by a Secretary General elected for a term of five years. Another important entity within the organization is the European Court of Human Rights which is a regional protection of human rights (an offshoot of the UDHR). Like-wise, the OECD’s headquarters is in the city of France and its structure comprises three main elements.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 18 Microsoft Corporation, Council of Europe, (2008), Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009 [DVD], Redmond WA. i) The OECD Council – The member countries each represented by a delegation led by an ambassador. These member countries act collectively through this council. ii) The OECD substantive committees that specialize in work areas of the OECD. Members are typically subject matter experts from member and non-member governments. iii) The OECD Secretariat led by the Secretary General.
It is organized in Directorates and Centres which include but not limited to Centre for Entrepreneurship, Tax Policy and Administration, Development Cooperation Directorate, Directorate for Education, Economics Department and Trade and Agriculture Directorate. 19 (C) MEMBERSHIP While in existence, the WEU had 10 member countries, 6 associate member countries, 5 observer countries and 7 associate partner countries. The breakdown was as follows: Member countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Observer countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, Poland, Turkey. Associate Partner countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. 20 In respect of the Council of Europe, membership of the international body is drawn from 47 countries. However, the body has a working relationship with non-member states that are sent invitations to sign and ratify some conventions that emanate from it. Such countries include South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, Uruguay, Israel, Japan, Syria and Tonga to mention a few.
21 The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development is currently made up of 34 members which include and not limited to Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Israel and the USA. 22 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________
19Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 23 July 2012 cited at en. wikipedia. org/organisationforeconomiccooperationanddevelopment 20 Western European Union, 23 July 2012 cited at www. weu. int 21CoE Conventions.