Ethicsin Foreign Policy have been implemented in recent years to add a new dimensionto the setting of UK Foreign Policy, by the late 1990’s Labour Government.
“Historically,the obligations and moral responsibilities of nation States were confined totheir citizens and this was reflected in the process of foreign policy making.”1 These strategies werechosen by the state to protect its own national interests by achieving its aimsin international relations. ‘Ethical Foreign Policy’ has been brought todispute by many theorists and academics alike, causing plentiful points fordebate whether foreign policy can actually be ethical, or whether it is still avery self-centred interested policy.
Thecommitment to an ethical foreign policy allows a nation to rationalise their ownself-interests, through a commitment to ease human suffering throughunderstanding, cooperation and peacekeeping missions around the globe. The viewof an ethical foreign policy derives heavily on a morality based conceptionview, taking into account our own nations interests and interests of others.Therefore, “our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must supportthe demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist forourselves”2. This statement has led tokey debate amongst academics as the ethical dimension has commonly been calledinto question, whether the foreign policy has acted on a morality approach orfor need to satisfy purely its own nation’s interest.
Usingthe refugee crisis in Kosovo as an example, in which a British Militaryintervention was actioned in spring 1999 to alleviate Serbian action againstethnic Albanians. Tens of thousands of Kosovars fled across borders intoMacedonia, which provoked NATO to launch bombing missions against Serbianinstallations and movements. The bombing campaign was successful and theKosovars were then returned back into Kosovo, avoiding a major refugee crisisinto Southeast Europe. The Government saw the military intervention as a greatsuccess, however it was criticised by the “”proportionality” – the danger ofusing a sledgehammer to crack a nut with the use of bombing Serbians.”3 Clearly action had to betaken to protect the Kosovars from persecution, although it could be arguedthat a resolution could have been used other than bombing raids. Usinga realistic approach to the nature of an ethical foreign policy you would tohave to base the interest on the other state as supposed to your own, whichcould really weaken the strength of the nation’s policy.
That alone is seriouslyunderestimating the realities of international politics. The realities ofintervention to protect others, for an ethical reason are not always viable,nor are option foreign policy makers are willing to commit to prevent atrocities.The Rwandan genocide is examples of unwillingness to intervene, the genocidetried exterminate a people in 100 days, culminating in the killing of some 800,000people. The West showed regret of not intervening admitting if they hadintervened they could of saved a vast amount of lives.
“John Major defended hisdecision not to send troops to Rwanda – he told MPs in July 1994 it was”simply not practicable” for the UN Security Council to become the”policeman of every part of the world”4. The UK has been renowned for havingan “empire mind-set” and using a Lord Palmerston who was quoted “nationalinterest above all else It used to be accepted wisdom that nationalself-interest would always be the driving factor for any country’s foreignpolicy. The distinguished nineteenth century politician Lord Palmerston oncesaid Britain had no permanent allies – only permanent interests.”5 It would be hard tocontest as a nation if our main influence of foreign policy is purelyself-interest, rather than having an unsustainable ethical foreign policy.1 Barnett,M. (2012) “Duties Beyond Borders” in Smith, S.
Hadfield, A. & Dunne, T.(eds.
) Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases, 2nd Edition, Oxford, OxfordUniversity Press pg. 2242 http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/human-rights-ethics-isn-t-on-the-foreign-office-s-map-a6678536.html3 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk_politics/2001/open_politics/foreign_policy/morality.stm4 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/britain-ignored-genocide-threat-in-rwanda-9179109.html5 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk_politics/2001/open_politics/foreign_policy/morality.stm