chapter  14
Functional cooperation and joint development
A way ahead in the South China Sea
ByRommel C. Banlaoi
Pages 13

This chapter describes the principle of functionalism, and discusses how functional cooperation can help facilitate the creation of a joint development regime as a way ahead for the peaceful management of the complex nature of territorial conflicts in the South China Sea. Claimants can escape the abyss of possible armed conflicts if they are willing to traverse an alternative path offered by the functional theory of international relations. Functionalism is the reverse of ethnocentrism, irredentism and primordialism; it pays more attention to common or shared interests than to the selfish interests of players in international politics. Rather than focus on competition and conflict as exemplified by realist theory, functionalism privileges cooperation and collaboration among states as promoted by liberal theory. According to David Mitrany, the complexity of governmental systems in the twentieth century has increased the technical/functionalist tasks facing governments. Highly trained specialists or experts other than politicians can best address these tasks.