For decades, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region continues to experience a myriad of crises and challenges that have far-reaching implications on its growth and development. The simultaneous occurrence of several catastrophic and disastrous events relates to among others conflicts, natural and man-made disasters, economic meltdowns, environment, migrations, globalization, and humanitarian emergencies. In addition, extra-regional interests (geo-strategic) and competition continue to contribute significantly (either negative or positive) to the nature of the political, economic, and security architecture in the region. A combination of these factors has led to the development of fluid inter-state and diplomatic relations among and between the regional states with far-reaching consequences on the present and future of peace, security, regional integration and development in the sub-region. It is against this background, this year’s IRSK annual conference is focused on ‘International Relations and Diplomacy in an Era of Polycrisis and Geo-Strategic Competition in the COMESA Region.’
A plethora of theoretical, conceptual and practical perspectives underlie the implications of the different developments on international and diplomatic relations within COMESA. The nature and form of inter-state and diplomatic relations has implications on the peace, security, stability and development of the region. It is therefore important to critically analyse and succinctly capture the implications of the complexity brought about by these factors influencing interstate and diplomatic relations in the subregion. The central theoretical assumption guiding the conference theme is that through a combination of a variety of theories and methodological instruments, we would be able to understand, explain and analyse the causes and consequences of the complex relations that exist among and between states in the COMESA region. It means eclectic and multidisciplinary approaches are important to analyse these factors and their implications for regional peace, security, stability, integration and development. In addition, plausible policy suggestions will be made on how to promote peace, security, stability, integration and development in the sub-region. Effective and sustainable solutions to these crises and challenges require a deep understanding of the issues, approaches, mechanisms, dynamics, and methodologies.
In this regard, the conference aims to address three distinct but inter-related questions i) How are the various political, economic, and security developments taking place globally and regionally affecting interstate and diplomatic relations in the COMESA region; ii) What should collectively or individually be done to ensure that states, regional organizations and mechanisms are able to deal with any would-be negative implication of these developments to promote peace, security, stability and development. iii) What are the consequences and/or implications of a failure to effectively address these challenges?
Based on the three questions above, the conference will critically interrogate theoretical, conceptual and methodological instruments adopted to deal with these crises and challenges and policies needed. These are to be embedded in elaborate, innovative, and empirical examination in order to spur academic and policy discourse.
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