Regional Organizations

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Regional Organizations

Regional organizations are, under some perspectives, international organizations, as they are members of the international community and encompass geopolitical entities that, in their operations or activities, transcend a single state or country. However, its membership is characterized by boundaries and demarcations characteristic of a defined and unique geography, such as the continents, or of a specific geopolitics, like the economic blocs. Regional organizations have been established to foster political and economic cooperation and integration, hence the term regional integration, or dialogue between States or entities within a given geographical or geopolitical boundary, sometimes With clear limits.

Both types or modes of organizations reflect common patterns of development and history that have been producing since the end of World War II, as well as have been favored by the inherent fragmentation of globalization. Most regional organizations tend to carry out their activities alongside well-established multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations. It can be said that, although in many cases a regional organization is simply conceptualized as an international organization, in many other cases it makes sense to use the term Regional organization to highlight the scope or most limited area of its membership.

Regional Cooperation Organization and the GATT Policy Negotiations

In relation to the GATT Policy Negotiations, Christopher Mark (1993) provided the following explanation and/or definition of Regional Cooperation Organization: A group of countries that have established a mechanism for trade-related discussions and negotiations with outside countries and regional groupings, and for ongoing consultation and cooperation on economic and trade issues of mutual concern. Such organizations sometimes serve as a forum for negotiating trade liberalization or policy harmonization among members.

List of Regional Organizations


  • European Union (EU); see also Western European Union (defunct)
  • Council of Europe (CoE)
  • Central European Initiative (CEI)
  • Energy Community
  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
  • European Patent Organisation (EPO)
  • European Science Foundation
  • European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL)
  • Group of 9 (G9)
  • International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS)
  • Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR)
  • Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS)
  • Baltic Black Sea Union (BBSU)
  • Assembly of European Regions (AER)
  • Eiroforum: including CERN, European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA JET), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), European Space Agency (ESA), European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), European Southern Observatory (ESO), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), European x-ray free electron laser (European XFEL), and Institut Laue–Langevin (ILL).
  • Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission
  • Benelux
  • Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union
  • British–Irish Council
  • Nordic Council
  • Nordic Investment Bank
  • Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being (NDPHS)
  • Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation(OCCAR)
  • Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC)
  • Visegrád Group (V4)
  • European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
  • Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations (Commonwealth of Unrecognized States)
  • European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)
  • West Nordic Council


  • Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD)
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
  • East Asia Summit (EAS)
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
  • International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR)
  • Mekong–Ganga Cooperation (MGC)
  • Mekong River Commission (MRC)
  • Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA)
  • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
  • Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)
  • Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS)
  • Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Transcontinental: Eurasia

  • Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
  • Central Asian Cooperation Organization
  • Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
  • Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
  • Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)
  • Eurasian Economic Union (EEU or EAEU)
  • GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development
  • Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
  • Turkic Council (TurkKon)
  • Union State


  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone (ZPCAS)

Transcontinental: Mediterranean

  • Union for the Mediterranean

Transcontinental: Indian Ocean

  • Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)
  • Indian Ocean Commission (COI)

Transcontinental: Arctic Ocean

  • Arctic Council

Transcontinental: Pacific Ocean

  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
  • Colombo Plan
  • Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)
  • Pacific Islands Forum
  • Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Transcontinental: African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

  • Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA)


  • African Union
  • Conseil de l’Entente
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)
  • Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
  • Arab Maghreb Union
  • Regional Center on Small Arms in the Great Lakes Region, Horn of Africa and Bordering States (RECSA)


  • Organization of American States (OAS)
  • Union of South American Nations (USAN): see Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations
  • Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA)
  • Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Association of Caribbean States (ACS)
  • Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
  • Central American Parliament
  • Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA)
  • Rio Group
  • System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA)
  • Central American Bank for Economic Integration(CABEI)
  • Central American Integration System
  • Organización Latinoamericana de Energia (OLADE)
  • Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
  • Zicosur

Regional Organizations

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on regional organizations explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.


See Also

  • International Organization
  • Foreign Relations
  • Intergovernmental Organization
  • Regional Organization
  • Regional Integration


Further Reading

  • The entry “regional organizations” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press

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