Introduction The current conjuncture of intense crisis in neo-liberal economic globalization – in the fields of finance, food, energy and the environment – is fuelling what some commentators call the phenomenon of ‘Globalization in Retreat’ (Bello 2007). The key institutions at the epicentre of neo-liberal economic globalization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organization (WTO), are likewise experiencing an ever deepening crisis of legitimacy. While the credibility of the WB and IMF continues to unravel, the WTO has been held in stalemate by broad resistance from many governments of the South as well as the ‘alterglobalization’ movement. The new generation of ‘bilateral’ free trade agreements, proposed by both the US and the EU, and being pursued at the national and regional level, are also confronting strong resistance. From Mar del Plata, to Costa Rica, to Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa and from Chiang Mai to Seoul, national and region-wide mobilizations protest and reject the aggressive neo-liberal trade and investment agenda being imposed on the South. In this chapter we focus on the regional social movements which have emerged in the context of confronting the global neo-liberal agenda as it is being pursued in the South in the guise of ‘new regionalism’. These movements are imagining and reclaiming a different people-centred regional integration. In particular, we analyse the regional coalitions of social movements and civil society organizations (CSOs) which have emerged in three regions of the South: the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) in Latin America; the Southern African Peoples’ Solidarity Network (SAPSN) in Southern Africa; and the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) and Solidarity for Asian Peoples’ Advocacy (SAPA) in the South East Asian region. As noted by Hettne (2006: 141), ‘Civil Societies are still generally neglected in the description and explanation of new regionalism’. This view is shared by the few scholars who have made attempts to address this gap (Grugel 2006, Söderbaum 2007). This chapter, therefore, seeks to further contribute to the debate on the role of civil society at the regional level. It will argue that social

movements have been able to establish their role as a counter-hegemonic force and as key protagonists in challenging the dominant paradigm. In the second section of this chapter the trajectory and current development of neo-liberal regionalisms in the Latin American, Southern African and South East Asian regions are analysed. The third section deals with the conjunctures and struggles against neo-liberal regionalisms in which a new generation of regional social movements have emerged. In the fourth section, the role of regional alliances and coalitions in advancing proposals for alternatives to the dominant neoliberal paradigm will be discussed. Finally, the concluding section draws some overall conclusions and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that are currently available to social movements and CSOs in terms of articulating an alternative vision of regional integration and of promoting the concretization of projects that place the social dimension and the interest of people at its centre. This chapter argues that regional integration as originally conceived in the 1950s and 1960s was premised on a more encompassing vision and intended to pursue political and security as well as development objectives. It was during the 1990s that the earlier processes got hijacked by neo-liberalism and the goals of regional formations became very narrowly defined in economic terms and centred on markets under the free trade and investment paradigm. The new generation of social movements and CSOs in Latin America, Southern Africa and South East Asia, shaped particularly over the past ten years by their strong resistance to trade liberalization and privatization and by the development of alternatives from below, are positioning themselves as key agents and players in regional integration processes. They have asserted the need to reclaim regional integration from the forces of neo-liberalism and to shape future regional integration processes that are responsive to the interests of the people.