Friday, November 24, 2006

Former UK Diplomat Critical of UK foreign policy

Carne Ross, a former high flyer at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, has heavily criticised the government in his Testimony to House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: Commentary on FCO White Paper "Active Diplomacy" earlier this month. In his conclusions he says:

"In "Active Diplomacy" and in general, the FCO and government proclaim their knowledge of the world and ability to deal with its challenges: here is the world, they say, and here is how we intend to deal with it. It is an illusion comforting to those in government and the public alike. The evidence however suggests that parliament - and indeed the public - is unwise to accord them this responsibility unquestioned. The last few years have been disastrous for British foreign policy, and no one is held to account[3]. The edifice of human rights law and norms, which took half a century of careful work to construct, has been undermined by those who claim to defend it...

14. We are so inured to the rhetoric of anti-terrorism and macho posturing about building democracy while fostering chaos, that it is hard to imagine an alternate direction for British foreign policy. But it is available, as it always was. This alternative lies in consistency of application of international law and a robust defence (including intervention when necessary, as in Kosovo and Sierra Leone) of those under assault or oppression. It lies in remedy to the "diplomatic deficit" whereby those affected by our - and others' - foreign policy have no capacity to influence it while those in whose name policy is carried out - us, the public - also have scant means to affect it. Together, such changes will produce a more just and therefore more stable world...

...the world needs an international system that gives a legitimate voice to all those affected by others' foreign policy... The Prime Minister himself has claimed that Britain stands by the oppressed, wherever they are. It is not too late for the policy reality to match that rhetoric, but it does require change, perhaps even a revolution."

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