Public Lecture by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans, AC, QC
Chancellor and an Honorary Professorial Fellow of the Australian National University; and 2016-2017 Simons Visiting Chair in International Law and Human Security at Simon Fraser University
Simon Fraser University
September 15, 2016
Abstract: Why should Canadians, Australians or anyone else care about human rights atrocities, health epidemics, environmental catastrophes, weapons proliferation or any other problems afflicting faraway countries when they do not have any direct or immediate impact on our own physical security or economic prosperity, viz. our traditionally defined national interests? Are concerns about ‘value’ issues of this kind just optional add-ons in the conduct of states’ foreign policy? Gareth Evans will spell out in this lecture his long-held belief, which has its origins in the Pearsonian liberal tradition, and on which he acted as Australia’s foreign minister, that in the contemporary world there is a third kind of national interest which every country should pursue – that in being, and being seen to be, a good international citizen. His argument – which he will illustrate with reference to issues such as nuclear disarmament, aid policy, the treatment of asylum seekers, and the responsibility to protect populations against genocide and other crimes against humanity – is that acting as a good international citizen wins hard-headed reputational and reciprocal-action returns, and as such bridges the gulf between idealism and realism by giving realists good reasons for behaving like idealists.