ACFID sets out framework for Australian foreign policy
Today, ACFID has published its submission to the White Paper on Foreign Policy – the first paper of its kind in 14 years. Our submission presents an analysis of the root causes of global trends which threaten to undermine Australia’s long-term prosperity and security and sets a framework to positively guide Australia’s foreign policy for the next decade.
We contend that there are truly global threats indifferent to state borders, military might and economic power and that we must radically rethink traditional principles of foreign policy to tackle them. Borders mean something to Australians, but they are not a panacea. Recognition of the great scale of economic and security costs of climate change and environmental degradation, increasing natural disasters, water and food shortages, shifting disease patterns, and pandemics is long overdue.
Cycles of insecurity and declining prosperity – common amongst nations – are spiralling and fuelling conflict. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is entrenching poverty, stifling human and economic development and creating instability.
In recent times, economically and politically disenfranchised citizens across North Africa and the Middle East have sought to assert their rights. Their subsequent repression has sparked a major geopolitical crisis and forced movement of people, leading to the rise of nationalist and isolationist sentiments. Fraying international consensus on key norms such as human rights has in turn set the stage for popular uprisings to reclaim those rights.
ACFID holds that these cycles can be broken by:
• Taking a values-based approach to foreign policy;
• Building peace and human security;
• Increasing inclusive and sustainable growth; and
• Prioritising multilateralism and human rights.
We argue that the strongest tool we can deploy to these ends is our aid and development program. It is a way of projecting our values and national character towards moral ends, and at the same time pragmatically and strategically addressing root cause problems that are undermining global efforts towards security and prosperity. Australian aid and development helps others and can tackle cause, not only effect. It can mitigate and build resilience to climate change through helping communities to adapt, meaning they do not need to flee their own homes and it can support vaccination and health programs to control disease to limit its impact.
In a period of rising isolationism, we must remind ourselves that cutting ourselves off from addressing the global challenges we face will not remove us from their effects. We see the white paper as a renewed opportunity to show that Australia will not retreat from those challenges but help lead the response in tackling them.
In setting out her vision for the white paper, the Foreign Minister called for a “comprehensive framework to guide our international engagement” with a “dynamism about it that can carry forward over about 10 years”. We have kept this at the front of our minds in building our response. We are confident that our submission is both comprehensive and dynamic and will help set an enduring foreign policy, resilient enough to last a decade or more.
Read the submission in full below, or read our five strategic priorities:
Summary of Recommendations
Strategic Priority 1 – Values Based Foreign Policy
Strategic Priority 2 – Peace and Human Security
Strategic Priority 3 – Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
Strategic Priority 4 – Promoting multilateralism and human rights
Strategic Priority 5 – Better Communicating Foreign Policy
Joanna has been the Head of Policy and Advocacy at ACFID since 2013. Prior to this, she has had a decade of experience in the overseas aid and development sector specialising in humanitarian response; women’s empowerment; sexual and reproductive health and rights; education, and; philanthropy and social justice. Joanna has a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in International Relations.