Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy

By Alison Brysk | Go to book overview

10
Conclusion

“The World Needs More Canada”

We have seen that human rights foreign policy is possible, and that it matters. We have seen the power of norms to guide national interest in more constructive directions than the traditional pursuit of military dominance and economic advantage. But we can also see that the global demand for human rights constantly outstrips the supply, and that many states could do more to help. Thus, we turn to examine the lessons learned from this study about improving and expanding the network of global Good Samaritans.


LESSONS LEARNED

The record of these half-dozen states, their like-minded neighbors and friends, and the interstate coalitions they have begun to establish reinforces some overall lessons of the contemporary world order. What do we need to know about how our world works to encourage more governments to direct more attention and resources to the suffering of strangers?


Goodness Is Its Own Reward

The case for cosmopolitanism is compelling: countries that do good do well. On the whole, global Good Samaritan states are at least as prosperous, secure, and democratic as their neighbors and peers—and this follows as well as precedes the adoption of human rights foreign policies. For example, the Netherlands has thrived as an avatar of international law, surviving oil boycotts based on its principled foreign policy. Humanitarian policies rarely require pronounced trade-offs of long-term national interest, and even short-term perturbations from bilateral conditionality are usually compensated in the long run by developments such as trade diversification. The promotion of global governance yields a more predictable policy environment for all members, and collective goods in the management of global problems with spillover potential like conflict-related environmental, health, and crime crises. Moreover, the intangible resource of legitimacy gained by human rights foreign policy often delivers diffuse

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