Conference Reports

Current Trends in Global Politics & Diplomacy: an ethical perspective

Date: 28-Nov-2002

"Current Trends in Global Politics and Diplomacy: an ethical perspective"

Prof Joseph A. Camilleri, La Trobe University, Australia

Nov 28 2002


Organized by Institute of Diplomacy & Foreign Relations Malaysia


Prof Camilleri said the continuing unequal distribution of wealth & income remained the major concern. 80% of the world’s wealth were in the hands of the 20% world’s wealthiest people. However, insecurity & transnational crimes were no longer concentrated on the poor south, but was penetrating the rich north. Terrorism, which could not be avoided for the last 20 years beginning with the attack on US personnel in Lebanon in 1983, has acquired particular significance in the present global politics. The events of Sept 11 were neither new nor surprising considering the pattern of terrorism targeting the US and its allies. "What was different was that the US lost its sense of invulnerability and joined the world of insecurity."

Camilleri saw two political trends:

  1. the rising of the movements in the name of Islam as well as fractions within the Muslim community in the Islamic world, which was dogmatic and ritualistic, and
  2. the tracking down terrorists especially targeting at Islamic world by the US administration whose self-confidence was only at face value. The US was weaker than most of the world understood. Sept 11 gave it a new sense of direction. Its grand strategy was to "consolidate its strategic economic & political crime scene" with the divisive notion of "you are either with us or against us." The US wanted to hold the key while advocating world coalition.

Camilleri was also not impressed with the amount of support the US had in its war against terror. He noted that the countries which had pledged support did so only for their own national or regional interests, and that very few would make dealing with Bush’s "Axis of Evil"- North Korea, Iraq & Iran – a major policy goal. He believed that if US conducted a military strike against Iraq, the bill was going to be very high for the superpower, adding that the US could be expected to delegitimize the work of UN inspection team presently in Iraq if its intent was going to war.

Finally, in order to face the challenges of global insecurity, negotiable multilateral approaches & decisions were the only hope. International institution & law must be extended to cultural approaches, and the Asian and African’s understanding of law must be considered. He said Asean remained the only effective and viable regional grouping operating at a political level that stood the test of time. It must consolidate its energy and therefore ASEAN + 3 (Japan, Korea & China) was important for a more coherent voice in the global stage. In addition, civilizational dialogue was also significant.

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