The Gulf Cooperation Council: Its Nature and Achievements

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


When Britain decided, in 1968, to terminate its official colonial presence in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf as of 1971, this action prompted the Gulf Arab States (Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Oman) to start the search for a form of partnership that would bring them together to better cope with the insecurity and danger surrounding them and their regimes. A key problem after the British withdrawal has been the notable military weakness of these states and the inability to effectively defend themselves against aggressive action. The six states share a similar economic, social, and political system, and acquired marked geo-political importance after the conclusion of World War II as a result of the discovery of massive oil and gas reserves.

Following two years of negotiation, the states signed, on May 25, 1981 a charter creating a regional entity called the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ? which turned out to be something of a unique integrative experiment in the Arab world. Its main objectives are a customs union and political cooperation; harmonization of policies; a common external tariff; and general integration within its specified cultural, geographical, economic, and political bounds.

The present study aims to analyze the regional cooperation and integration of these states. It is an attempt to trace the nature, emergence, and development of the GCC in a primarily tribal culture. It furnishes a description and exploration of specific aspects of the GCC: its structure and charter; its economic and political achievements; the challenges facing it; the factors that either enhance or hinder its ambitions. It is also an attempt to identify and discuss the security problems the member states face.

This study additionally advances a theoretical framework focusing on certain concepts stemming from existing integration theories that have applicability to the integration of the GCC. The dissertation suggests that the GCC is in fact unique; neither a federal or confederal, it represents an elastic entity and political framework.

Empirically, the study examines the GCC during the first twenty-five years of its existence (1979-2004), with the just stated aims to explore, explain, and analyze this integration effort in its specified cultural, geographical, political, and economic settings.

To aid our understanding of this integrative venture, several important questions revolving around the very concept of integration, are raised. For instance, what are the circumstances under which the GCC emerged? To what extent is integration projects elite-inspired and forged, and to what extent, if at all, is it grass-root inspired? What challenges are the member states facing when trying to achieve their objectives? What is the significance of the existence of a ?core? within this integration? What are the local integrative and disintegrative factors, and how do they operate to hinder or enhance the integration project? What general observations can this study engender in terms of past and present integration aspects with specific focus on locally, regionally, and globally generated supports and stresses?


  • Reyadh Alasfoor
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • Political and administrative sciences, Politisk historia, Political history, Arabian Gulf, integrative and disintegrative factors, regional hegemons, integration, Tribal Structure, democracy, Peace and conflict research, polemology
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Lars-Göran Stenelo, Supervisor
Award date2007 Oct 15
  • Department of Political Science, Lund University
Print ISBNs91-88306-67-4, 978-91–88306–67–8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-10-15 Time: 10:15 Place: Auditoriet Kulturen External reviewer(s) Name: Bryder, Tom Title: Professor Affiliation: Köpenhamns universitet ---

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