Monday, 3 October 2011

CFP: From Strangers to Partners? The Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union

From Strangers to Partners? The Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union

23 March 2012 - Strasbourg

One-day conference organised by the Institut d'Etudes Politiques (IEP), Strasbourg, and Université Paris Diderot

The early history of relations between the Commonwealth and Europe is to be read in the light of Britain's own relations with the European Economic Community. As Britain twice applied and twice faced the French veto in the 1960s, the Commonwealth of Nations evolved radically. From an association essentially defined through its relationship with the ex-imperial power, the Commonwealth expanded as decolonisation gathered pace, was given a Secretariat in 1965 and Arnold Smith, the first Secretary General, contributed greatly to the assertion of an independent Commonwealth voice, determined to mark its relevance in a rapidly changing world.

The Commonwealth of Nations issued its first declaration of principles in January 1971, as Britain finally progressed towards EEC membership and officially joined in January 1973. For British foreign policy, the Commonwealth and Europe had long represented conflicting attractions and the determination to conciliate both sets of partners had initially been a seemingly insoluble dilemma. While the two spheres retained their specificities, they now intersected, not only through Britain, but through the association of a number of ex-British territories in the 1975 Lomé Convention and the later joint membership of Cyprus and Malta. Is the EU one of the "strategic partners" of the Commonwealth in its actions for development and democracy? To what extent do values converge? To what extent does the Commonwealth have any influence on EU development policies? How can the past and present framework for consultation between the EU and the Commonwealth be understood - and is there scope for improvement? At a time when tensions between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat partners of the coalition government in London have hit the headlines on European issues, and when Foreign Secretary William Hague has called for the reinvigoration of the Commonwealth, understanding current cooperation networks and possible ventures seems an essential undertaking.

The work of the conference will be articulated around two major themes:

1) Connecting institutional pasts

Possible topics for papers include:

- British foreign policy and diplomacy in Commonwealth and European circles: mutual influences, evolving interests and shifting identities
- The impact of Britain's application to the EEC, and membership of the EEC/EU on Commonwealth ties
- The role of Cyprus and Malta in bringing both organisations closer together and as vehicles for common understanding
- Intra-Commonwealth divisions on European relations

2) Present Dynamics and Future Cooperation

Possible topics for papers include:
- Lobbying and co-operation in multilateral organisations
- The articulation of Commonwealth policies and EU policies outside Europe (in the Pacific and the Caribbean where some territories are part of the EU, but also in Africa)
- European and Commonwealth approaches to development
- The scope for cooperation in democratic processes, from election observation to institution building
- Commonwealth and La Francophonie cross-influences in the EU, and the impact of Britain and France's imperial past on EU policies in developing countries.

This conference follows two previous conferences held at Université Paris Diderot in 2009 (The Commonwealth of Nations: a force for democracy?) and 2010 (The Commonwealth@60: identity and relevance in perspective).

Proposals (max. 500 words) and a short biography should be sent to the organisers, Ron Leask, Virginie Roiron and Mélanie Torrent ( no later than 15 November 2011.

Participants are expected to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.

No comments: