Good International Citizenship: The Case for Decency
By Gareth Evans
Monash University Publishing, 2022, 96 pp.
In this inspiring and deeply reasoned book, Evans makes the case for a foreign policy that binds the interests of one’s country to the well-being of the wider world. Building on ideas first advanced during his years as Australia’s foreign minister, from 1988 to 1996, Evans argues that a state’s “good international citizenship” can be pursued in four general ways: through the generosity of its foreign aid, through its responses to human rights violations, through its reactions to genocide and its aftermath, and through its contributions to addressing existential global dangers, such as global warming and nuclear war. He is most eloquent in making the case that states should see good international citizenship as both a moral imperative and a hardheaded calculation of the national interest. A state’s enlightened foreign policy would facilitate global problem solving, encourage reciprocity, and help generate soft power. Reflecting on Australia’s foreign policy record, Evans offers a mixed assessment. Australian leaders have laudably pursued “value issues”—offering relief in natural disasters and extending humanitarian assistance. But these isolated acts of charity are insufficient; ultimately, states must understand good citizenship in the international community as integral to their self-interest and national security.