Wednesday, 7 June 2017

NZIIA Seminar: 'Recalibrating New Zealand's Small State Foreign Policy.'

With factors such as a rising China, Brexit and the Trump presidency, New Zealand’s future is come into question with all these signals of change. New Zealand’s independent foreign policy has served the country well, but may now require some modification. Which was the focus of last night’s seminar presented by Professor Alan Tidwell (director of the Centre for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University).

Using the three Bs (Bandwagoning, Balancing, and Being Neutral), Professor Tidwell "pitched" his ideas and views on New Zealand’s challenge is to create a foreign policy response while maintaining foreign policy independence with the changing and challenging environment they are in. In his words, New Zealand is somewhere between Bandwagoning and Balancing, as they ally themselves with the United States and China (in a somewhat minor capacity), as well as being able to maintain its own interests such as its relations with its indigenous populace and the rest of the Pacific. Professor Tidwell emphasized that an important element of New Zealand’s stance and independence is maintaining access and relevance to great powers. Strengthening New Zealand’s peace-making capacity may provide the best way forward in adjusting to the international changes while keeping true to New Zealand’s foreign policy goals. He suggested that New Zealand could achieve a higher and more important position by continuing to be a successful player in indigenous policies and maintain its relations. Despite problems in trying to maintain and being a successful player in that game. In addition, New Zealand needs to step up its game in trying to gain a prominent stance by paying more attention to more international issues and gaining stronger relations with China and U.S., whilst reducing its efforts in the Pacific. Finally, New Zealand needs to play more of the intermediary role like its Scandinavian role models such, Switzerland and Norway (both of whom played the role very well).

To those who are curious to gain better insight into last night’s speaker, prior to becoming the director of the Centre for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Professor Tidwell was a program officer with the United States Institute of Peace, where he specialized in conflict resolution and capacity building in Southeast Asia. His work focused particularly on the peace processes in Mindanao and Aceh. Tidwell collaborated with scholars from these conflict-affected regions to develop conflict resolution curriculum programs. In 1992 Tidwell, a Washington D.C. native, moved to Sydney, Australia where he was a lecturer in the Centre for Conflict Resolution at Macquarie University. Later, he moved to Sydney University where he became the research director of the Australian Centre for American Studies. At Sydney University Tidwell focused on enhancing the Australian American relationship through research and public education. He returned to Macquarie University as a senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Management, specializing in conflict resolution and negotiation. He holds a PhD. in international relations from the University of Kent, a Masters in professional ethics from the University of New South Wales, and a Masters degree in conflict management from George Mason University.

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