Regional integration organisations (RIOs) renegotiate the boundaries of socio-political membership when they confer social, economic or political rights on non-nationals. The author of this article examines how access to socio-political membership intersects with regional community building in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Economic Community of West African States and the Southern Common Market. Whilst the promise of people-oriented integration is common to all three organisations, they deploy different political and legal tools to advance regional community building. These choices reflect the diverging visions of belonging in contemporary RIOs. However, the comparative analysis in this article shows that people-orientedness remains an unattainable normative goal unless the focus of regional membership politics moves from fostering regional belonging and unity to recognising intra-regional differences. A revised theory of regional community building must therefore vindicate, rather than suppress, differences within RIOs.
Päivi Johanna Neuvonen, Transforming Membership? Citizenship, Identity and the Problem of Belonging in Regional Integration Organizations, European Journal of International Law, 2019.