GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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How national identity will shape the future of liberalism: The consequences of Brexit in the EU and the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
The UK’s decision by referendum to leave the European Union calls into question the future of liberalist institutionalism, and the practical implementation of the liberalist school of International Relations theory, in general. It is the liberalist argument that worldwide institutions are vital in ensuring cooperation between states. By contrast, the constructivist approach, which takes into consideration strategic cultures, and the importance of norms and identities, provides a better explanation for why BREXIT happened, because it allows us to appreciate the motivations and anxieties that swayed the public vote. This in turn sheds light on the possible consequences of the vote for other international institutions of the kind. One of the earliest responses, the official statement of Oman, a representative of the Gulf Cooperation Council, described Brexit as ‘a courageous historical decision’ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oman, 2016), raising concerns about their future membership of the GCC. It is for this reason that some may see Brexit, and its political aftermath, as a threat to the development of liberal institutionalism internationally.

Considering national identity as a key contributing factor to the Brexit vote, this paper will focus on the question of how the concept of national identity helped to weaken or strengthen relations between the members of the EU and the GCC. Focussing on the GCC as a case-study, it will also demonstrate the limitations of liberalism. Drawing on an examination of liberalist and constructivist theories about how collaboration and peaceful relations between states are built and maintained, this paper argues that the liberalist school of thought does not adequately describe the development of international organizations such as the EU and the GCC. Though both the EU and the GCC can be seen as ‘liberal’ institutions, they have very different historical/cultural contexts, and it is unlikely that the future of these institutions will be the same. This is because the future of liberalist institutions depends on national identity. The GCC states were formed in 1981 by the following six states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE. These states have a similar historical heritage, and share Arabic as their official language for communication. By contrast, it is arguable that after 2004, a coherent ‘EU identity’ might not have been possible as the EU was joined by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia; states that had developed very differently, and whose cultures and historical heritage contrasted starkly from the existing EU members.