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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: December 2009

2 - Promoting Values in Foreign Relations: Policy and Legal Issues



Foreign polices which have an ethical or principled dimension to them, or more conveniently but less accurately ‘ethical foreign policies’, are closely tied up with ideology and the desire to project a particular identity to the wider world. The decision to promote such values also stems from the desire, or at the least acquiescence, of the domestic constituency to engage in such practices. Prior to the 2004 enlargement of the European Union it was estimated, for example, that 81 per cent of the Union's population felt that the Union should promote human rights abroad. The pursuit of ideological goals that are perceived as being moral and legitimate in domestic policy, such as, for example, protecting human rights, provides an accessible and easily understood rationale in the formulation of a polity's foreign policy. Although foreign policy has many objectives, the pursuit of emotive ideological goals such as the protection of human rights in third states is newsworthy, leading to a pressure to act, whereas many other foreign policy objectives are far less visible and more abstract. Spokespersons for the European Union have made clear on numerous occasions its position on the promotion and protection of certain values in the Union's external relations.

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