Modern Papua New Guinea

By Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi | Go to book overview

Norrie MacQueen


NATIONAL IDENTITY AND THE
INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM
The Search for a Foreign Policy

THE QUESTION OF NATIONAL FOREIGN POLICY has been regarded with ambivalence by successive governments in Papua New Guinea since independence in 1975. In this they have shared an attitude common to many ex-colonial territories in the first years of statehood. On one hand, the formulation of basic objectives and the regulation of interactions with other international actors, whether states or organisations, are recognized as obvious indicators of national independence. On the other hand, though, the process of foreign policy-making frequently illuminates the limitations of the very sovereignty which it is supposed to confirm. The new state is required to act in an international system already established according to rules which it has had no influence in formulating. Its diplomatic voice is, moreover, likely to be faint through lack of both experience and resources, compared with other, longer established players.

In the face of these disadvantages new states tend to adopt particular strategies to increase the impact of their foreign policies. A strong regional focus is attractive as it offers at least the impression of significant national influence. The favoured vehicles of diplomacy will often be multilateral rather than bilateral as activism in intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) is much less demanding of scarce economic and human resources than an equivalent range of bilateral interactions. Additionally, the collective nature of institutional diplomacy can have

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