- Date published:
9:50 am, September 30th, 2015 - 32 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, International, peter dunne - Tags: actions speak louder, fine words, foreign policy, Peter Dunne
Peter Dunne seems to be having an attack of conscience:
Our foreign policy lacks any commitment to human rights. A bold conclusion maybe, but the most realistic one to be drawn from a couple of recent events where New Zealand appears to have been caught on the hop.
First was the appallingly tardy response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Even though the mounting tragedy had been filling our television screens for some days, our government appeared to miss its significance and any sense of obligation on New Zealand’s part to assist. Indeed, it seemed to be only the strong public reaction that finally jolted it to take any action at all.
Now, this week there been the saga of the New Zealanders being held in Australian detention camps prior to deportation here. Our response has been to send a text to the Australians about what is going on. I am not standing up for Australian criminals who happen to have been born in New Zealand, but the treatment being meted out to them is excessive and out of line with the vaunted special relationship between our two countries.
However, these two incidents are not isolated cases. They are symptomatic of a general malaise when it comes to standing up for human rights internationally.
While the pursuit of enlightened self-interest is a legitimate foreign policy goal, it needs to be balanced by some objectivity. In recent years though our foreign policy has become too craven and trade-focussed and lacking a moral compass. In short, we have become too silent, lest we cause offence.
But relying on quiet words in diplomatic ears; nods and winks; pull-asides; text messages, or whatever, is not the way to conduct foreign policy. We have a right to expect our foreign policy to be evocative of our independence and nationhood by upholding human rights and dignity, and to stand up for New Zealanders when and where necessary. It is time to abandon the chin-dripping subservience we are lapsing into.
Fine words Peter Dunne, very fine indeed. But our foreign policy is the creation of our government, and you are part of that government. Why are you propping it up? Actions speak louder than words…