I’m the ‘Church of England’s’ foreign policy adviser, a post that I have held for over ten years. It is a fascinating job and one that I still feel privileged to occupy. It takes me from refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon to G20 civil society forums in Toronto, Canada. It brings me into contact with some of the most interesting people around, whether they be civil society activists in Tehran, Iran or arms control experts in Bogotá, Colombia.
This blog is a personal reflection on and exploration of the many places that I travel to and the issues that I advise on. I hope to provoke debate and conversation about the shape of international affairs today. The aim is to try to make sense of the breathtaking transformations that have occurred since the end of the Cold War. Many of these changes have caught us by surprise – 9/11 and the global financial crisis. These events have shaken our convictions and belief systems such that we live – or feel we live – in an age of insecurity and uncertainty.
Within this state of flux there is only one certainty: the future will not be as we imagined. The norms of the post Second World era are disappearing fast while the institutions of global economic governance seem incapable of addressing fundamental imbalances. Pressing issues such as climate change, population growth, migrations and natural disasters, along with wars, revolutions and state collapse are piling extraordinary pressures on governments and across the international system. The world appears increasingly complex, interconnected and potentially dangerous.
Set against these transformative changes, the blog gently explores the contribution that ethics can make in helping to think through the new complexity and dynamics of our international environment. It is not an academic exploration of ethics or of foreign policy but rather a loose conversation between the two. It will try to examine ethical dilemmas – both the topical and the obscure – in current policy issues as we experience them in real-time. In the process it will reveal the hidden complexities facing governments and the inherent insufficiency of simplistic solutions to these same interconnected problems.
This is the first blog by an ecclesiastical civil servant, but it is not an official Church of England blog. From time to time it might explore particular policies of the Church of England or comments by bishops in the areas of defence or development. If, however, you are looking for comprehensive or authoritative Church statements on particular foreign policy issues, it’s probably best that you take a deep breath and read one of the many policy papers that can be found on the official website of the Church of England.