by The Center for Binational Institutions *
Over time the ties between Mexico and the United States have become more interdependent, complex, and relevant for both nations, which has increased the reliance on institutions to maintain a stable and positive relationship. Moreover, the Covid-19 global pandemic confronted us with the reality of a vastly interconnected world. In a matter of months, trade, travel, healthcare systems, and social customs experienced a shock. One of the lessons learned from the pandemic was the impracticality of over-reliance on overseas countries for critical products and services. Therefore, the pandemic heightened the opportunities for deeper and stronger collaboration between Mexico and the United States.
In January 2020, twelve former Mexican and American ambassadors met in Blanco, Texas, to discuss the current state and the future of the bilateral relationship. One of the main recommendations that came from this meeting was to review, update and improve some of the main existing dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. As a result of this recommendation, the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, a binational nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the bilateral cooperation between Mexico and the United States, established the Center for Binational Institutions (CBI) Program.
The CBI’s mission is to promote a better understanding of bilateral institutions. Other organizations and programs that focus on the Mexico-U.S. relationship succeed at addressing specific binational issues, such as trade, energy, infrastructure, migration, border security, economic development, etc. But what distinguishes the CBI Program is its analysis of those issues through bilateral institutions like agreements, organizations, mechanisms, and programs. Binational institutions provide the rules that shape, limit, and channel binational behavior. Addressing binational institutions will allow for the parallel development of political institutions alongside economic growth and social change.
The timing of this program is relevant with the start of the Biden-Harris administration and the halfway mark on the Mexican President’s term. During 2021, the CBI Program is creating a Binational Institutions Digital Repository (BIR), a tool that will serve as an open knowledge platform; produce policy-oriented reports and its first scorecard to evaluate the current institutional framework of collaboration between the two countries; and organize its first annual seminar on Thursday, September 30th, 2021, that will convene scholars, researchers, entrepreneurs, government officials, and leaders whose work revolves around the binational relation between Mexico and the United States.
By strengthening and updating the existing institutions, both nations can formulate policies that penetrate both societies and can avoid falling into institutional rigidity. We need policies based on mutual knowledge, respect, and recognition. As former President Barack Obama said, “in this relationship, there is no senior partner or junior partner. We are two equal partners, two sovereign nations that must work together in mutual interest and mutual respect”.
* The Center for Binational Institutions’ mission is to promote a better understanding of the bilateral institutions between Mexico and the United States. It is a program by the U.S. – Mexico Foundation. The U.S.-Mexico Foundation is a binational non-profit organization dedicated to fostering bilateral cooperation and improving the understanding between the United States and Mexico by activating key people in the relationship that once were dormant. Twitter: @usmexicofound