by Kennedy Graham
Following the Greens’ new caucus retreat this week, the list of MP portfolios was announced. I have relinquished the Musterer’s role and the Justice and Energy portfolios and taken on, inter alia, the new Global Affairs portfolio.
This is a new development that builds upon, and refines, the previous foreign affairs portfolio. It focuses on the same reality, but from a different, updated, worldview.
From the mid-17th to mid-20th centuries, the nation-state emerged, waxed, and waned as the principal political unit in what theorists call the Westphalian age.
With the United Nations, however, the sovereign state has been joined by the individual as an entity under international law – initially through the universalisation of human rights, more recently through international criminal law. From Göring and Hess to Milosevic and Karadzic.
Also since the mid-20th century, we have been confronting problems that are truly global in character and impact – weapons of mass destruction, ozone depletion and climate change.
And since the late 20th century, we have acquired a global consciousness, through deep-space exploration and moon-shots of Earth, along with a planetary interconnectedness through the ITC revolution.
We are today in the post-Westphalian age – a fast and dynamic transformation towards a global society of some form. Ours is a transitional age, in which the international community of states is now joined by a global community of peoples. The global civil society ranges alongside the global corporate sector, acting as the not-so-still voice of conscience in our changing world.
In this unfolding scenario, nations have become integrated in myriad ways into the global scene. A country’s attitude towards the world and its actions are now less a matter of foreign policy – ‘us’ v. ‘them’; more a matter of ‘us’ as part of the broader ‘us’.
We are now an integral part of the global community. What we do and say – our policies towards, not ‘the world’, but ‘the rest of the world of which we are a part’, is the subject of global affairs.
Within this new paradigm we do not seek to maximise a competitive national advantage to excess, indifferent to the consequences elsewhere. We collaborate in identifying the global challenges before humanity. We agree on the global solutions, and then we agree on our legitimate national interests, and then we carry them out.
It is a matter of global responsibility. This is not moral handwringing – it is an imperative of collective survival. Our global responsibilities and our national interests become one and the same.
Thus, a country’s portfolio for dealing with the rest of the world is most appropriately described now, not as foreign policy, but as ‘global affairs’.
The Green Party will henceforth pursue this approach in the Parliament, in the country, and around the world.