Friday, October 31, 2014

History in Motion

Gareth Evans

Are hypocrisy and double standards a necessary part of diplomacy? When and how should military force be used to stop or prevent mass atrocities? Can a sustainable peace and balance of power be built in Asia? Is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East unavoidable?

History lies at the heart of many of the disputes that are sowing fear and conflict in today’s world: Russia’s bullying of its neighbors, fierce clashes over sovereignty from Kosovo to Taiwan, and explosive national and ethnic movements from Turkey to Tibet. Some of these historical quarrels are unfamiliar to outsiders, while others – morally complex and seemingly intractable – are inconvenient. Small wonder that only a few diplomats have the breadth of vision to tackle them.

Gareth Evans, Australia’s foreign minister for eight years and President & CEO of the International Crisis Group for another ten, has spent his career addressing such challenges. As foreign minister, Evans was among the first leaders to recognize Asia’s geopolitical shift, recasting Australia’s diplomacy and economic policy to deal with the region’s rising powers - China, India, and Indonesia. At the same time, he deepened Australia’s alliance with the United States; played a leading role in bringing peace to Cambodia and in the negotiations on the International Convention on Chemical Weapons; and was a founder of both the Asia/Pacific Economic Cooperation and ASEAN regional security forums.

Out of office, Gareth Evans has been just as active. Currently Chancellor of the Australian National University, and a professor of international relations at the University of Melbourne, he was a principal architect of the new “responsibility to protect” doctrine adopted by the United Nations to ensure that the horrors of Rwanda and Bosnia were never repeated, and has been a leading international voice for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

From the Far East to the Middle East, from Brussels to Bali, Gareth Evans stands out as one of the most experienced and innovative statesmen of recent decades. Every month, History in Motion, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, brings his lucid brand of practical wisdom to bear on problems that others prefer to avoid.

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