The Gulf Cooperation Council : a study in integration
The Gulf Cooperation Council was established in May 1981 by the heads of state of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At the time, Western observers declared security to be the prime consideration of its founders, yet security is not mentioned in the Council's foundation charter. This emphasizes the intention to promote "close coordination in all spheres, especially the economic and social" between the member states; throughout the charter the terms "coordination", "integration", " cooperation", "closer relations" and "ties" repeatedly recur. In consequence, as the Council began to make its existence felt in the international community, its activity raised the question as to whether this demonstrated the development of integration as understood in the West notwithstanding references in the preamble to the charter to concepts of Islamic and Arab unity which predate Western theories of integration. Accordingly, this study looks at the Gulf Cooperation Council in the light of theories of integration initially elaborated in the light of Western experience in order to establish whether the Council in fact constitutes a fresh attempt to promote Arab unity. It concludes that analysis of its achievements establishes the Council as a cautious and pragmatic instrument to the achievement of Arab unity while at the same time reflecting favourably on Western theories of integration based on the concept of the security community.