|dc.description.abstract||The Central American Integration System (SICA) is the latest integration enterprise in a long line of regional governance arrangements in the Central American region. SICA was founded in 1991 as a manifestation of a broader political movement to leave behind the region’s dictatorial regimes and gross human rights violations that marred the previous decades. The fundamental objective of SICA is to transform Central America into a region of peace, respect for democracy and social development, through the protection of human rights. It was therefore created to support the region’s states in their quest to promote social justice and deal with inequality, which was recognised as the source of violence, war and human rights violations. Yet, it has been unable to fulfil its objectives and purposes due to a series of challenges arising from its history.
Since colonial times, Central American governance, at both domestic and regional levels, has displayed two characteristics: first, executive state-led dominance and, second, susceptibility to external ideas and influences. These historical characteristics, or legacies, have manifested themselves in various ways in the many reunification and integration efforts of Central American states, and in their failure. These historical legacies continue to burden the latest Central American integration enterprise in various ways which have become inherent features of Central American governance. Today, they are reflected within the SICA legal regime at the conceptual, institutional and judicial levels.
To solve these challenges faced by the SICA legal regime, this thesis turns to comparative regionalism. This thesis draws on comparative constitutional law and comparative international law to determine a methodology for the emerging field of comparative regionalism. In this thesis comparative regionalism is used both as a critique and a solution to the current analytical approaches to Central American regionalism, which neglect the context of Central American governance within which regionalism operates. Thus, it offers a new approach to comparison across regional legal systems. The approach to comparative regionalism developed in this thesis draws on insights from other integration regimes around the globe. It takes the European and Southeast Asian integration experiences as case studies, which represent opposite spectrums of governance models, respectively. While Europe is the quintessential supranational model, Southeast Asia takes an intergovernmental approach to integration. In comparative terms, Central America represents a middle point between them, with a model driven by intergovernmentalism with certain supranational features and institutions. As such, Central America is well placed to gain insights from both comparative case studies for integration governance.
This thesis shows how the study of SICA, and Central American regionalism more broadly, contribute to a new field of comparative regional studies, not only to address shared problems among regional arrangements, but also to understand the complexities and contest Eurocentric concepts of integration from a global perspective.||en_US