In Monday’s edition of The Herald, we carried a story cementing the view that most Western governments that claim to practise ethical foreign policy actually lack legitimacy, as they are mainly driven by national interest and not “saving” the world from “big bad monsters” as they claim.
The passing of a Bill by US lawmakers paving way for diplomatic action and economic sanctions against China for responding to the national threat of anti-government riots in Hong Kong is one action, which at face value, could pass as ethical foreign policy.
Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade defines the foreign policy of a country as a set of goals that seek to outline how that country will interface, at an official level, with other countries.
Ethical foreign policy, on the other hand, is defined by scholars as a policy which defines the principles and practice of international relations based on “the respect for human rights, international obligations, transparency and accountability”.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is, therefore, made to appear as part of an “international obligation” in the quest to promote the observance of human rights.
Our story headlined “China slams Western meddling”, debunked this wrong perception.
In the first instance, the US is one of the countries that instigated the riots.
Secondly, there is nothing ethical about meddling in the internal affairs of another state.
Lastly, as witnessed in Zimbabwe, there is nothing ethical about the imposition of sanctions, as such measures hurt ordinary people the most.
Western states that have adopted ethical foreign policy on paper, in reality, are major violators of human rights in their countries and outside, making them lose both domestic and international legitimacy.
An example of this is the United States’ total disregard and threat of sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The US last year, threatened sanctions against the ICC if it went ahead with prosecutions against Americans.
The court was considering prosecuting US servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan.
This is the same US which funds the ICC and considers it a major actor on the international scene when the heads of state of other countries are on trial. But when it was the US’s turn to be on trial, the ICC immediately became a national security threat.
The US has been imposing sanctions on developing countries as a way of forcing them to adopt its own version of liberalism.
The philosophy is that US security will be heightened when there are more nation states in favour of liberalism (or at least what it perceives to be liberalism).
This philosophy exposes the true nature of the US, which will promote its version of liberalism at any cost.
The largely condemned Arab spring uprising quickly comes to mind.
Libya and Egypt were left in ruin and conflict became the order of the day.
The US, working with the UK and France, left the locals to face the music alone after having assisted in the destruction of their countries. The cost of liberty in Libya, Egypt and Syria outweighs the suffering locals experienced at the hands of so-called autocratic leaders.
To the US, world leaders are measured according to how they promote American or Western interests and not how they treat their people. Surely, this is not ethical.
According to Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun, there is “gross interference in China’s internal affairs” and the sanctions imposed by Western powers are a “tool” for meddling in the internal affairs of developing countries for “furtherance of own interests”.
Likening the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) Ambassador Guo said: “Though China and Zimbabwe are geographically apart, what is happening to Hong Kong is not unfamiliar to Zimbabweans. It reminds people of the notorious Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. Sanctions have become a tool of some Western countries to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in furtherance of own interests.
“This is blatant hegemonism and also shows that some countries are still intoxicated with the old dream of colonialism.”
The declaration by Sadc of October 25 as solidarity day against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe is a historic event that will forever be remembered as a rebuttal of pseudo ethical foreign policy.
As Sadc said in a communiqué of the 39th Sadc Summit of the Heads of State and Government, the sanctions are “militating against economic growth in both Zimbabwe and the region”.
Sanctions have no place in “ethical foreign policy”.
In fact, they are a gross violation of human rights.