Monday 27 Jun 2022 | 05:33 | SYDNEY
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Diplomacy

Australia is one of the most highly globalised nations on the planet and therefore extremely dependent on an effective and active diplomacy.  In a region undergoing rapid and transformational change, where shifting power balances are creating uncertainty about the existing regional order, Australia’s security and prosperity rely heavily on its international networks and relationships with both near neighbours and geographically-distant allies.

The Lowy Institute has conducted ground-breaking comparative research on Australia’s diplomacy and that of like-minded nations. It focuses on public diplomacy and Australia’s soft-power capabilities, leading-edge research on ediplomacy, consular affairs, international broadcasting, leadership, and resourcing of Australia’s international policy infrastructure and its overseas network. The Institute’s work has been instrumental in shaping a parliamentary enquiry into Australia’s diplomatic network,  providing independent, non-partisan policy options to steer Australia’s diplomatic future.

In 2016, the Lowy Institute released the Global Diplomacy Index, an interactive web tool which maps and ranks the diplomatic networks of all G20 and OECD nations. The interactive allows readers to visualise some of the most significant diplomatic networks in the world, see where nations are represented – by city, country, and type of diplomatic mission – and rank countries according to the size of their diplomatic network

Our man in Washington

Book review: Diplomatic: A Washington memoir, by Joe Hockey with Leo Shanahan (Harper Collins 2022) In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott as leader of Australia’s Liberal party, and consequently as the country’s prime minister. Turnbull immediately told Joe Hockey that he

Knowledge is power: A small investment for a big return

Amid regular expressions of concern about the growing influence of autocratic nations in Asia and strategic competition in the Pacific, Australia should look at investing more in democracy and human rights initiatives. The best way to bolster democratic systems is to provide more support to the

A strategy for uncertain times

It seems obvious that the next government will need a national security strategy. In the election campaign foreign policy debate last week Marise Payne and Penny Wong agreed that Australia’s national security environment was more complex than ever and seemed to concur that this demanded a more

Looking for a little sizzle from the 2022 election campaign

Bipartisanship no refuge for patriots It was notable how last Friday’s relatively buttoned-down debate between Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Labor opponent Penny Wong was greeted as two patriots maintaining a disciplined bipartisan approach to foreign policy. It is obviously better that

Getting the most from Australia’s regional engagements

Depending who wins the election this Saturday, either Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese will attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo on 24 May as Australia’s Prime Minister. Prior to last year, Quad Leaders’ meetings weren’t on the calendar – now they’re happening virtually or in-person twice

The case for rejuvenating DFAT

A number of experts have argued for change at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure it is match fit for the major geopolitical challenges facing the country. Some criticism of DFAT’s performance – for example, that it is insular and that it spends too much time analysing

Imagining Labor’s first 100 days in foreign policy

With new leadership and a fresh mandate, a Labor government could take significant steps in foreign policy in its first hundred days in office under the leadership of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Though more substantive differences (namely on the Pacific) have

A silver lining to DFAT’s budgetary woes

The 2022 federal budget was handed down on Tuesday night, and it appeared mostly bad news for Australian foreign policy. Amid all the talk of an international order deteriorating before our very eyes, government will reduce spending on diplomacy and overseas aid by as much as 19 per cent in the

Australian cricket’s soft power opportunity

Like it or not, the Australian cricket team are some of the nation’s most conspicuous representatives on the world stage. And right now, both the women’s and men’s teams have the opportunity to achieve historic successes. That’s good news for Australian soft power. Australia’s cricket

Why isn’t Australia putting diplomacy first?

Reading the coverage following the AUKUS nuclear submarine annoucement might have given the impression that diplomacy is not an Anglo-Saxon pastime. But, in fact, both the United States and United Kingdom have an explicit “diplomacy first” agenda. It is Australia that is out of step. What is

Do Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships matter?

When Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne landed in Kuala Lumpur at the weekend, she notably lauded the meeting with her Malaysian counterpart as “the first since our relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. The last year has been particularly fruitful for

Sinking trust

Last week in Australia news headlines brimmed with emotive accusations about a betrayal of trust levied against Prime Minister Scott Morrison. French President Emmanuel Macron had already said Australia’s decision to scupper the $90 billion submarine deal “broke the relationship of trust between

Zooming out of digital diplomacy

We’re firmly entrenched in an era of hybrid diplomacy, floating between in-person and videoconference diplomacy. In speaking to those in the game, three facts have come to light: there’s no turning back; videoconferences are inadequate; and the only way out, is forward. Foreign ministries have

Dankeschön Frau Merkel

Angela Merkel had already been Chancellor for about six months when I commenced as Australian Ambassador to Germany in April 2006. Her tenure as Germany’s head of government has seen four further Australian heads of mission take up residence in Berlin, and the Australian prime ministership change

AUKUS: France’s strategic outcry

Last week Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced a new security partnership (AUKUS) and, in the process, put an end to the Attack class submarine program negotiated by France and Australia in 2016. After calling the decision “a stab in the back”, French Foreign Minister

Beyond Fortress Australia

The reality of living in a pandemic has dawned on Australia. Covid cases at the time of writing are high and still climbing. The virus is here to stay. Equally clear is that ring-fencing the country from the world — the ‘Fortress Australia’ policy — is no longer viable

Australia and LGBTQI rights

Less than a month into his term, US President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Persons around the World. Biden’s foreign policy focus on LGBTQI rights confirms that it is now time for Australia to step

Rules Based Audio (Episode 1): In Conversation with John Ikenberry

In an increasingly contested world, basic questions about how the world works, and how it should work, are being asked anew. In Rules Based Audio we will be posing those questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. This podcast series is part of the Lowy Institute’s Rules

Keeping PNG connected by investing in radio

News that Australia’s Telstra could be a buyer of the Pacific Island region’s prominent mobile network and media player Digicel has put communications technology in the spotlight. The Australian government is set to underwrite the deal which some reports suggest could be worth up to A$2 billion

Economic diplomacy: Going for gold in 20 years and counting

Silver medal winner Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week became the latest national leader to bank the immediate short-term political benefits from the projected long-term economic and soft power value of hosting the Olympic Games. Morrison declared after Brisbane won a competition against no

Far more world leaders visit China than America

In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. Suga’s trip marked the return of leader-level travel to Washington after the Covid-19 pandemic. Suga told reporters that his team was so excited to meet their

The changing face of Australia’s diplomatic network

“Pale, male, and stale” has been a consistent lament when looking at the roll call of ambassadors from most Western nations. There have been frequent calls to include more women, more people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Indigenous communities, and to avoid plum

Lowy Institute Diplomat Database

This Lowy Institute interactive uncovers the changing face of Australia's diplomatic network, tracking 47 years of Australian diplomatic appointments overseas. The data reveals the way issues such as political affiliation, gender, family background, and education have shaped Australia’s

Personality in foreign policy

Readers with long memories might recall the fleeting controversy about the time that a then freshly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stopped, propped and saluted a deeply unpopular US President George W. Bush during a grand global summit. It was a NATO meeting, April 2008, one of the early trips

Australia’s China politics heats up

After a long period of uber-bipartisanship in the handling of China relations, Labor has opened a clear line of attack on the Morrison government.   Last month, at the Canberra launch of Nine columnist Peter Hartcher’s new book, The Red Zone, shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong said

China overtakes America in presidential diplomacy

Joe Biden is about to fly to the United Kingdom on his first foreign visit as US President. Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11–13 June, head to Belgium for summits with NATO and the European Union on 14–15 June, then meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland the

PNG can’t turn a blind eye to the conflict next door

A video recently surfaced on social media in Papua New Guinea, featuring a group of about 20 men, gathered around their apparent leader, declaring war on Indonesia. “People of East Sepik,” the leader says, referring to one of the two provinces which stretch along PNG’s northern coastline

ASEAN’s huge gamble on Myanmar

It has been a month since the ASEAN Leaders met with Myanmar junta Leader Min Aung Hlaing on 24 April in Jakarta to discuss the situation in Myanmar. The meeting itself and the outcome of it – the Five-Point Consensus – has been applauded by some as a rare win for ASEAN, given its limitations in

A rare test of China diplomacy

The term “political science,” as many have observed, is somewhat of an oxymoron. Of all fields of scholarly pursuit, politics is comparatively ill-suited to the processes of the scientific method. Political systems and policies cannot exactly be isolated in a laboratory. The “data sets” of

Andrew Peacock’s Timor legacy

Since his death on 13 April, tributes to former Australian foreign minister and leader of the federal opposition Andrew Peacock have flowed from across the political divide. He has been remembered as a huge figure who left an “indelible” mark on Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. Former Liberal

Economic diplomacy: Patent politics and trade deal twists

Biden’s jab First it was new carbon emission cuts, and then a global minimum corporate tax. But it is hard to beat the Biden administration’s move to shaft the pharmaceutical industry lobby over vaccine patents for putting the US back at the heart of global public policy. The devil will be in

China’s climate pivot could reshape the economic future

Diplomacy is not always diplomatic. This fact of international life was on full display during the recent meeting of top US and Chinese diplomats in Alaska. It has also frequently characterised the long-running United Nations climate negotiations – often with the same protagonists. A Chinese

Indonesia raises ASEAN’s bar on Myanmar

For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded

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