Essay Example about Chretien's Foreign Policy

Published: 2019-05-15
Essay Example about Chretien's Foreign Policy
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Politics International relations Personality Cold War
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1834 words
16 min read

Canada's foreign policy has been geared towards finding a new role for itself in the aftermath of the conceptual and military stalemate between the Soviet Union and the United States since the end of the Cold War. Some people argue that the Cold War left policymakers in Canada without an explicit sense of plans or direction. Its search for a new role in international affairs in which to partake and play has dominated debates about which direction the government of Canada should take. One of the directions proposed was that Canada should follow some of its historical trends ingrained in peace support operations and multilateralism. Another suggested that it should focus on economic diversification to new markets in Latin America and Asia, or refreshing both economic and political relations with the United States, or some combination of all these.Critics have censured the variations in mandate since 1989 as an indication of policies without direction where clear strategic considerations are left out of the process of decision-making. One of Canadas most conspicuous foreign policy agendas that has been leveled by this critique is human security.

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Canadas role in promoting the idea of human security has retained a considerable amount of academic debate. The definition of Human Security was coined in 1994 by the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP)and expanded upon in the Commission on Human Securitys Human Security Now report in 2003. Human Security not only includes the traditional protection offered to people by securing borders but also protection offered as a result of many types of threats. These other threats include environmental degradation,poverty, transnational terrorism, massive population movements, health-related harms, infectious diseases as HIV/AIDS and others caused by oppressive governments and internal civil conflicts. The commission thus broadened the definition of Human Security.

The human security agenda in Canada developed in the in the aftermath of the successful conclusion of the Treaty to Ban Anti-Personnel Landmines in 1997.This success was attributed to Lloyd Axworthy, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1996 chosen by Joseph Jacques Jean Chretien. Chretien was the then Prime Minister of Canada. The focus of Canadas foreign policy after 1996 was on human security. Chretien has supported Axworthy in his campaign against anti-personnel landmines (Hampson, 2000). Having successfully garnered the agreement with a speed that was unprecedented within the United Nations Convention on Certain Weapons (CCW,this momentum began to change the tides in favour of more comprehensive agenda.Faced with a need to develop a new role for Canada in the world in the post-Cold War, Lloyd, began to advocate a reorientation of Canadian foreign policy. It was premised upon a broadened understanding of security that placed the idea of civilian protection at the heart of international affairs. This shift in conceptual understanding and referent of security from the state to the individual was met with skepticism within policy circles and academia (Hampson, 2000).

This human security approach marked a significant change in Canada on how national interests were henceforth to be pursued. Before the Cold War, the government of Canada had pursued peace through order exemplified in collective security alliances within NATO and NORAD. The country was thus able to assert its sovereignty and autonomy through participation in international organizations such as the G8 and the United Nations. The country, though only with middle-level capabilities could take the lead in international normative issues, partner with other states and non-state actors and sometimes even work outside the sanctity of the UN (Hampson, 2000).

Some policymakers and scholars dismissed the idea of human security as too broad to be applicable. The successful attainment of the Rome Statute for the Creation of an International Criminal Court in 1998, however, supported the notion that human security was achievable in practice, despite the critiques. This success of the Rome Statute made many more policy makers and scholars began to support the human security agenda. They began to advocate for the human security approach in its ability to deal with contemporary transnational and intrastate threats to people. DFAITdeveloped its first policy document on human security in 1999 called Human Security: Safety for People in a Changing World. DFAIT isthe Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Lloyd wrote:

As is often the case in public policy, practice has led theory. Efforts to promote greater human security including the Ottawa Convention on Anti-personnel Landmines and the Rome Treaty creating an International Criminal Court have attracted overwhelmingsupport. As the momentum gathers around the idea of human security, greater clarity on the meaning of the term is needed (Axworthy, 1999).

Lloyd and his team sought to provide a definition of human security. They argued that human security ought to refer to safety for people from both violent and non-violent threats while centeringessentially on the human costs of violent conflict. While Lloyd directed this policy to the Canadian public, they also attempted to attach this domestic policy with foreign policy. They did so by promoting it abroad that human security constituted as an alternative way of looking at the world where governments place people at the center of security concerns. It promoted this idea internationally through coalition building and close cooperation with like-minded countries, NGOs, and international organizations. It thus utilized the concept of soft power which is a tool that enhances a states attractiveness to other states and creates its influence and increases its decision-making power without using coercive measures.

Though the Commission on Human Security had earlier defined the term human security, the government of Canada was probably the first government to embrace and use it extensively. Lloyd and his team further broadened the definition in the following ways (Heinbecker, 2007).

Lloyd wanted to shift the focus of protection from that of states to the protection of individual human beings and their communities.

Human security was not intended to replace national security but rather to complement it. It acknowledged that the security of states was necessary, but it was not sufficient to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals.

It regarded the safety and well-being of individuals as imperative to the attainment of international peace and security.

It addressed threats from both military sources and non-military sources. For example, intrastate war, massive human rights violations, small arms proliferation, crime, and drugs.

It also brought about innovations to the practice of diplomacy. For instance, the direct cooperation between states and the civil society.

This idea of human security was promoted to promote the protection of people and not just of states. It was a concept intended to stand alongside national security as a basic public policy purpose. The government would accept it as a valid reason for military investment.

Canada promotes this new idea of human security because of its values and interests. They believe that they are their brothers keeper and should do unto others what they would like these others to do unto them. They also understood that their security was ultimately affected by the security of others, directly or indirectly. They were also fortunate to have creative diplomacy and enlightened leadership through people. One of them was General Gard. He was not aware at the time that his writings were crucial in persuading people that anti-personnel land mines really were military unnecessary (Heinbecker, 2007).

This Ottawa Treaty is also referred as to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. The convention aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines across the world. Anti-personnel mines are designed for use against human beings to injure them and not to kill them. They are triggered when somebody steps on them. Their chief purpose is to blow the victims leg or foot off thus disabling them. Combatants use them during wars and are preferred as they increase the logistical burden including of medical and evacuation on the opposing force. These mines also cause secondary injuries. Material torn loose by the explosion of the mine causes these secondary injuries like stones and other materials on the soil where the landmine is placed injure the victim.

Combatants using these anti-personnel land mines place them in small holes dug up for them and then cover by them with soil. They cannot, therefore, be seen by both the enemy that is being fought as well as by civilians walking in an area where the land mines have been placed. They are thus dangerous to not only the combatants but also the innocent civilians consisting of women, children and men searching for safety. They are also dangerous to children playing on such grounds unaware of the looming danger.

The landmines explosions leave their victims without one or both feet or legs causing pain and suffering that lasts the victims lifetime. The victims are left with costly medical bills to pay, and a disabled body, yet they are expected to continue with their daily routine of going to work to meet their needs and those of their children. It also leaves them traumatized and makes them live in fear of more explosions that could cause them more harm. They also have to live with the stigma present in some countries associated with disabled persons. Some laws and people in some countries discriminate against disabled persons, and such people would be more unlucky if there are no rights activists that advocate for their rights.

The Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention was a success for Axworthy as it focuses its attention to threats to individuals. It sought to protect them through banning the use of land mines. Civilians around the world are increasingly at risk of internal conflicts within states yet tradition foreign policy instruments have failed to prevent violence many times. They have also failed to protect civilians when conflicts break out. The human security agenda of Canada tackles all these issues. It describes how governments can adapt foreign policy instruments in order to be able to deal with the challenges facing the international community in this century and others to come. The initiatives suggested in the human security agenda revolve around how to retain peace in states, contributions to peace building, and humanitarian intervention during wars and the emergence of a global civil society. Human security is a public policy principle on which law makers should base all other laws in all states of the world. Governments should implement all its tenets as put out by Axworthy and his team.

Axworthys work in making Canada play a role concerning human security internationally resulted in a debate concerning what the role of states should be on the international stage. What is the place of our country in the world order? is a question my people were left to ponder about. His critics say that other former prime ministers like Brian Mulroney, who was actively committed to promoting human rights. They also say that the broader definition of human security was not his idea but that of United Nations Development Programme. The UNDPs report of 1994 extended the definition to include challenges of the environment, climate change, income dispa...

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