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Biography & Autobiography Political

Navigating a New World

Canada's Global Future

by (author) Lloyd Axworthy

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2004
Political, Security (National & International), General
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    Publish Date
    Aug 2004
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In Navigating a New World Lloyd Axworthy charts how we can become active citizens in the demanding world of the twenty-first century, to make it safer, more sustainable and more humane. Throughout he emphasizes the human story. As we meet refugees from civil war and drought, child soldiers and landmine victims, the moral imperative is clear: this is a deeply compassionate appeal to confront poverty, war and environmental disaster.

Before Lloyd Axworthy entered global politics, "human security" -- a philosophy calling for global responsibility to the interests of individuals rather than to the interests of the nation state or multi-national corporations -- was a controversial and unfamiliar idea. When put into action, human security led to an international ban on landmines, initiatives to curtail the use of child soldiers, and the formation of the International Criminal Court. Today, with conflict raging across the planet -- and building -- the need for a humane, secure international governance is more vital than ever. So how can Canada reject a world model dominated by U.S. policy, military force and naked self-interest? How can we rethink a global world from the perspective of people -- our security, our needs, our promise, our dreams?

Lloyd Axworthy delivers recommendations that are both practical and radical, ranging from staunch Canadian independence from the U.S. to environmental as well as political security; from rules to govern intervention when nations oppress their own citizens, to codes of conduct on arms control and war crimes.

Arresting and provocative, Navigating a New World lays out just why Canada has the skills to lead the world into a twenty-first century less nightmarish than the last, and help make the world safer and more just for us all. This is a call for action from one of Canada's most eloquent statesmen and thinkers, and is essential reading for all Canadians.

Where is the line we draw in setting out the boundaries for being responsible for others? Is it simply family and close friends? Do we stop at the frontiers of our own country? Does our conscience, our sense of right or wrong, take us as far as the crowded camps of northern Uganda, surrounded by land mines, attacked repeatedly by an army made largely of child soldiers? I believe we in Canada have a special vocation to help in the building of a more secure order. We need not be confined to our self-interest. -- from Navigating a New World

From the Hardcover edition.

About the author

The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy is currently Director and CEO of the Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues at the University of British Columbia.

Lloyd Axworthy's profile page

Excerpt: Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future (by (author) Lloyd Axworthy)

Conflict is our actuality. Conversation is our hope. -- David Tracy, The Analogical Imagination

Prologue: Canada and the World

Canadians are on the road to global citizenship. Increasingly in work, travel, education and in personal and political engagement the world is our precinct, with international trade, finance, technology and business driving much of our global interests. But there is also a political, cultural and even moral dimension to our emerging role in global society.

Canadians take pride in what we do in the world. Our sense of identity is often tied up in such achievements as peacekeeping, placing in the top rung of the United Nations Human Development Index of best places to live, and winning a gold medal in Olympic hockey or a Man Booker Prize in literature. The values we express internationally help define who we are when other distinctions are being erased. Equally, our welfare is closely tied to international rules and practices. Daily while at Foreign Affairs I saw how little separates what we do inside our border from what happens outside and vice versa. We occupy the global village that Marshall McLuhan prophesied we would half a century ago. What this means is that we win in a stable, equitable, cooperative world. We lose when it is turbulent, divisive and unfair. It only makes sense, therefore, to examine carefully what we can do to tip the global system in a constructive way. That is what I would like this book to achieve.

I don’t feel we yet fully understand the responsibilities and obligations that come with being a global citizen or make the full connection between the need for well-resourced international initiatives and our domestic interests. Too often we try to do things on the cheap, and avoid the tough commitments. In the federal election of 2000, I watched with some dismay how the entire campaign unfolded with nary a word about foreign policy. There was great discussion of domestic economic priorities, but nothing on how to strengthen our capacity for effective international action–and this despite growing disenchantment with a variety of global developments, expressed most notably in protests and demonstrations.

My own years at Foreign Affairs were very much occupied with the effort to define a distinctive international place for Canada. When I arrived there in 1996, a decided shift was taking place in the perceptions and calculations arising out of the end of the Cold War and the surge of globalization in economics, technology and information. In the early nineties there had been fond hopes of a new era of prosperity based on the liberalization of markets, deregulation and the global movement of capital. Poverty in the Third World would be whittled away by the powerful forces of the marketplace. By the middle of the decade, though, that tide of optimism was on the wane. Inequities were growing, not receding. The value of global trade and investment agreements was under challenge by Southern countries, and there was growing skepticism from civil-society groups. The spectre of ecological disaster was creeping into prominence.

Similarly, President George Bush Sr.’s bold claims for an emerging system of security based on international cooperation -- the “New World Order” -- had already run aground in Somalia and Bosnia. The United States was increasingly shy of exerting direct leadership in the security requirements of an era of messy internal ethnic conflicts. The United Nations was discredited by its inaction in Rwanda and impoverished by the nonpayment of dues by the world’s superpower and other financial shirkers. There was a definite vacuum in defining security needs and responses.

This was especially so in scoping out answers to the dark side of globalization -- the increasing threats from international terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, small arms traders, illegal-diamond merchants and people smugglers. The same networks of information that allowed capital to move around the world in seconds, or brought scenes of suffering into living rooms around the globe, gave these predators the capacity to exploit the vulnerable and establish international connections that could overwhelm the capability of individual nations to protect their citizens. Drug trafficking, for example, had become a multi-billion-dollar business and confronted police forces with the most sophisticated tools of communication, transportation and organization. Ugly signs of dangerous terrorist networks were being detected. Already in 1996 I was calling for a starvation policy to deny criminal perpetrators access to money and arms.

There was an obvious demand for more effective international teamwork to meet all these challenges. Halting steps were being organized at the UN, the G-8, the OECD. But there was an opposite pull. The strong hold of beliefs in national sovereignty, and anti-internationalist feelings, meant that many governments resisted multilateral cooperative ventures. The philosophy of go-it-alone was alive and well even in the face of a shared risk. Traditional notions of national interest were stoutly defended even while they simply didn’t match the tempo of interdependence that was under way.

Complicating the efforts to govern this global interdependence was the pre-eminent position of the U.S. The collapse of the Soviet Union had confirmed the dominance of American power and influence as the reality of the global system. With this came increasing U.S. claims that its dominant position carried special responsibilities and therefore prerogatives to act unilaterally. The Clinton administration generally set its actions inside the framework of international institutions and laws. But not so the government of George W. Bush. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, launched an aggressive U.S. effort to assert U.S. interests, repudiate multilateral, collaborative governance, and follow a radical security doctrine that prescribes the use of U.S. military supremacy to establish the U.S.’s unchallenged right to determine the character and shape of the world -- what might be called imperial ambitions.

From a Canadian point of view, the U.S.’s reluctance to submit to international treaties and agreements, and its new doctrine of pre-emption, are cause for great concern. While over the past decade most agreements in arms control and environmental or human rights have not been ratified by Congress, now the Bush administration is not just a reluctant signatory but also a ferocious opponent of any agreement that does not directly serve specific ambitions of the U.S. -- hardly a promising atmosphere in which to construct a new global architecture.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“Axworthy is well known for his innovative ideas on foreign policy. He promoted a ‘human security’ agenda that focused on humanitarian crises around the world…. He called for an international criminal court, brokered a ban on landmines and drew international attention to the plight of war-affected children. In December 2000, he received the Sen. Patrick Leahy Humanitarian Award from the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation for his leadership in ‘the global effort to outlaw the use of child-soldiers, to bring war criminals to justice and to end the human tragedy of landmines.’”
—Princeton University, citation for the James Madison Medal for outstanding public service

“In Navigating a New [World], Axworthy draws together experiences from his life and the give-and-take of domestic and foreign politics as he threads an eloquent argument about Canada’s vocation as a middle power — one working towards a humane and just world. It’s a must read for a number of reasions, most particularly because it presents a mainstream politician who still thinks in terms of justice, compassion, and global responsibility.”
See Magazine, Book Guide

Navigating a New World is not the memoir of a statesman who retires to the farm to reflect and remember…. A passionate reformer, [Axworthy] remains at the ramparts today, which makes his book as much about the present as the past. … His voice is critical, triumphant, self-assured, arbitrary, angry and anguished. In his stubborn belief in the world’s possibilities, it is also wonderfully romantic. … [Axworthy] framed a new internationalism for Canada. … His account is thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate, like the man himself.”
Literary Review of Canada
“[Lloyd Axworthy] has been the best foreign minister that I can remember in my active life in international affairs…. His work on everything from landmines to child soldiers has been exemplary.”
—Stephen Lewis

“Axworthy…charted Canada’s place in the world in the latter [decades] of the 20th century, and in so doing defined new possibilities for [our] country…. Axworthy’s signal contribution [as foreign minister] was to revive the sense of Canadian internationalism that has always been the core of an immigrant nation, to foster the sense that we are part of a global community…. There is no doubt that under his direction, Canada once again aspired to the heady reaches of global leadership…. The Ottawa protocol banning anti-personnel landmines seemed like a Utopian dream. Yet under Axworthy’s leadership, it became an international treaty. So did the International Criminal Court.”
Edmonton Journal
“[Axworthy] provides useful insights into the national and international political process….Navigating a New World is not simply a memoir. It is also an attempt to advocate a new direction for Canada….Axworthy’s assessment of past, present and future is a well-articulated presentation of the dominant set of beliefs that have guided Canadian thinking for decades.”
Winnipeg Free Press
Navigating a New World presents a blueprint for a Canadian foreign policy… Axworthy may be a peacenik but he’s no pacifist….He makes a compelling case that Canada’s political culture of compromise offers a model for settling the world’s disputes….[Navigating a New World is] that kind of penetrating overview you might expect from a former foreign affairs minister who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to ban land mines. It’s also a brave minorty-report sort of book, fitting for someone who was once Western Canada’s only Liberal MP.”
The Vancouver Sun and the Times-Colonist (Victoria)

“In Navigating a New World, Axworthy provides a detailed account of his experience at the helm of Canadian foreign policy. It reveals the portrait of a crusading idealist, a man passionately committed to creating a better world — and his own ideas about how to do it. … This is the vision of a populist and radical thinker. … There is much in the Axworthy analysis one can applaud. … One cannot read Axworthy’s book without being convinced of his sincere commitment to a better world.”
The National Post
“In his four years as foreign affairs minister, …Axworthy has remade Canadian foreign policy, introducing the buzzwords “soft power” and “human security” into Canada’s political lexicon. He has become the darling of aid agencies and human rights crusaders for giving a voice to the poor, the hungry and the embattled victims of war in international politics.”
—Ottawa Citizen
Navigating a New World is a challenge to Canada and its citizens to help map a future world that emphasizes human security, not corporate profit, a world that confronts and bests poverty, war and human privation. The former cabinet minister…urges Canada to promote a world dominated by human compassion. He makes a compelling case and it’s hard to dismiss this book as simply a soft power plea.”
The Calgary Herald
“Axworthy’s book…makes a serious contribution to debate about Canada’s role in the world, and should be read by anyone interested in…the shape and challenges of the modern world. It’s a book eminently worth reading for its passion and strengths, and arguing with for its absences.”
The Globe and Mail
“Mr. Axworthy has redefined diplomacy. He has shaped a global society where the safety of the individual is at the center of international priorities. His vision has focused the attention of the world on the innocent victims of human conflict. He has been a leader in the global effort to outlaw the use of child soldiers, to bring war criminals to justice, and to end the human tragedy caused by landmines. Mr. Axworthy’s steadfast resolve and extraordinary leadership initiated and inspired the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty to ban landmines…the exemplary work of [an] extraordinary man.”
—Citation from the Senator Patrick J. Leahy Humanitarian Award 2000

“Richly detailed and forcefully argued…. Axworthy…demonstrat[es] how Canadian influence can make a tangible difference in people’s lives around the world…. Axworthy’s case that we really can and should be doing more to advance human security around the world is compelling, and that is more than enough to make this a very valuable book.”
The Gazette

“Axworthy’s book proposes a coherent idea, or set of interconnected ideas, for Canadian foreign policy as no one has since [Lester] Pearson did with his notions of peacekeeping and of Canada as a ‘helpful fixer’ between the U.S. and Europe. More soft power and human security, of course. But Axworthy magnifies those concepts and gives them a new purposefulness that’s expressed in his opening sentence: ‘Canadians are on the road to global citizenship.’ … . His vision deserves a careful hearing by Canadians, by Ottawa — and by Paul Martin.”
The Toronto Star
“The former cabinet minister makes a compelling case, rejecting an American-centred view of the world and urging Canada to promote a world dominated by human compassion.”
Truro Daily News
Praise for Lloyd Axworthy, winner of:
• the Princeton University James Madison Medal
• the Senator Patrick J. Leahy Humanitarian Award
• the CARE International Humanitarian Award
• the Thakore Award

“Canada’s outgoing foreign minister is one of the best in memory.” -- Toronto Star

“He has become the darling of aid agencies and human rights crusaders for giving a voice to the poor, the hungry and the embattled victims of war. In his four years as foreign affairs minister, [he] remade Canadian foreign policy.” -- Ottawa Citizen

“Axworthy. . .charted Canada’s place in the world in the latter half of the 20th century, and in so doing defined new possibilities for [our] country.” -- The Edmonton Journal

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