International Relations in the Americas and the Future of the Inter-American System
The Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University (CLALS), the Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Estudos sobre os Estados Unidos (INCT/INEU), and the Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (CRIES) have forged a partnership to launch a multi-pronged initiative of research, publication, training, consultations and public events aimed at:
Assessing how major governments in the region, beginning with the U.S. and Brazil but encompassing as well Argentina, Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, elaborate policies with respect to the region and multilateral affairs, encompassing both their bilateral relationships and their participation in diverse regional institutions, and recognizing differences that may operate across policy domains;
Illuminating the nature of the trends underway in the inter-American system, with particular attention to the diffusion of influence among countries in the hemisphere, the proliferation of multi-lateral institutions, and the evolving competencies of those institutions;
Assessing the impact of the existing constellation of regional institutions for efforts to advance human rights and democracy, focusing on diplomatic aspects as well as jurisprudence, and exploring the compatibility of emerging alliances and institutional innovations with those that through the OAS have spawned the Democratic Charter and the inter-American system for the protection of human rights embodied by the Commission and the Court;
Exploring the emerging channels of civil society participation in regional governance, including their relationship to intergovernmental decision making processes. Central to this component of the project is the aspiration to reduce existing democratic deficits in regional governance, a challenge that takes on special relevance in a context where the past quarter century has witnessed the proliferation of consolidated democracies across the region yet where continuing shortcomings, and noteworthy cases of backsliding, are strikingly evident. Not only is there a need to better understand how individual countries and inter-governmental institutions seek to advance the protection and deepening of democratic life in the hemisphere – including through augmenting participation of actors drawn from civil society – there is also a need to explore avenues for making more robust the existing procedures for fostering meaningful societal participation at the level of regional institutions.
The effort draws on international relations scholars, diplomatic historians and political scientists from throughout the region, as well as the unique expertise at AU’s law school in the area of inter-American law and jurisprudence. In particular, foreign policy specialists at INCT/INEU and AU are undertaking systematic studies of the policy-making processes that are shaping the contours of the emerging hemispheric order. The network of researchers affiliated with CRIES is contributing its expertise on civil society participation in regional affairs, drawing on its studies from such domains as security, conflict prevention and peace-building and environmental governance, among others. This project has also recruited scholars from several other institutions located across the region to carry out studies that complement AU-INCT/INEU-based investigations of policy-making processes in the U.S. and Brazil and those of CRIES-affiliated researchers regarding civil society.
First project workshop - Washington, DC
As part of the Hemisphere in Flux project, CLALS hosted the workshop “International Relations, Multilateralism and Prospects for Democratic Deepening of Inter-American Affairs,” October 13-15, 2011 at American University. Convened by CLALS, INCT/INEU and CRIES, the workshop summoned expert scholars from seven countries in the Americas to craft a research agenda focused on illuminating key trends in inter-American relations. (Learn more)
Second Project Workshop - São Paulo, Brazil
A group of 30 scholars from six countries and eighteen academic institutions in the Americas gathered in São Paulo from November 12-14, 2012 for the third meeting of the Hemisphere in Flux project. Convened by INCT-INEU of Brazil, CRIES of Argentina, and the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, the project seeks to produce cutting-edge knowledge about the current transformations of inter-American relations. (Learn more)
Project findings have been presented in two special journal issues. In December 2013, Lua Nova: Revista de Cultura e Política released a special edition entitled Hemisfério em Transformação with articles by project participants, including CLALS Director Eric Hershberg and Faculty Affiliates Philip Brenner (SIS) and Carlos Portales (WCL), among others. In June 2014, a special edition of the trilingual journal Pensamiento Propio, entitled El hemisferio en transformación: Regionalismo, multilateralismo y políticas exteriores en un entorno cambiante, was released in Buenos Aires. Full-text articles are available for download at the links above.