“Good Citizen Europe” and the Middle East Peace Process

Authors


  • We would like to acknowledge the support of the Leverhulme Trust under Research Fellowship #2011–222. For helpful guidance and feedback, we would like to thank Nick Wheeler, Alex Wendt, Anand Menon, David Bailey, and the anonymous reviewers for this journal.
  • [Corrections added February 5, 2015, after original online publication: grammatical changes have been made to this article to improve clarity.]

Abstract

According to Evans (2007), for political actors to be “good international citizens,” they ought to recognize and promote respect for core human rights in their foreign policy, engage in vigorous multilateral cooperation, and contribute to positive change whenever possible. This study assesses this approach in the context of EU foreign policy by asking two questions: What sort of ethically oriented action should be expected of a foreign policy actor in the current global system? What are the barriers to achieving such action that naturally arise in that system, given the way it is constructed? We argue that the answer lies in recognizing not only the practical challenges or constraints, but also the normative constraints facing such actors in a foreign policy framework. First, we apply a good international citizenship framework in the case of EU foreign policy. We then assess EU actions in the context of the Middle East peace process, focusing on the efforts the union has made, and ones it might make toward “punching its weight,” consistent with good international citizenship. The assessment of the case, and the analysis of good international citizenship overall, highlight a gap between moral outcomes sought by many critics of EU foreign policy action and outcomes that should be routinely achievable in the present system. Securing much more robust moral outcomes, especially those advocated by cosmopolitan theorists, likely would require long-term movement toward system transformation consistent with “institutional global citizenship.”

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