Foreign Policy and Public Opinon

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Workshop organized by Prof. Véronique Dimier, REPI-ULB

Introduction & Conclusion

Prof. Véronique Dimier, REPI - Université libre de Bruxelles

Competition and Co-imperialism: the political rhetoric of Franco-British colonial rivalry

Prof. Martin Thomas, University of Exeter

Abstract: As imperial nations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, successive British and French political leaders claimed unique skills as rulers of empire. But what happened when their interests clashed, and what new arguments did they make to their domestic publics to rationalize sordid struggles for global power between rival ‘civilized’ nations? We may equally ask what happened when their interests appeared to coincide. How did the two countries’ respective elites justify their mutual collaboration as ‘co-imperialists’ in the face of challenges from other powers and, increasingly as time went on, from domestic anti-colonial critics and local nationalist opponents as well? This paper reviews some of the quintessential clashes of British and French imperialism in Africa and the Middle East from the age of high imperialism in the 1880s to the watershed of the Suez Crisis in the 1950s. It applies a comparative approach to the specificity of imperial rhetoric - its racial underpinnings and paternalist tones, its ethical presumptions and the world-views it enshrined. The paper also says something about changing international norms as exemplified by the growing influence of transnational opinion-makers – lobby groups, media outlets, and, after 1918, the new regulatory agencies of the League of Nations and its post-1945 reincarnation, the United Nations in shaping the rhetoric of imperialist opinion-making.

Bio: Martin Thomas is Professor of Imperial History and Director of the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society at the University of Exeter. A specialist in the politics of contested decolonization, his most recent publications are Violence and Colonial Order: Police, Workers and Protest in the European Colonial Empires, 1918-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and their Roads from Empire (Oxford University Press, 2014), and, with Richard Toye, Arguing about Empire (Oxford University Press, 2017). He a Principal Investigator for a Leverhulme Trust research network, Understanding Insurgencies: Resonances from the Colonial Past.

Voting for Peace: the First World War and the democratic control of foreign policy

Dr Jan Stöckmann, Wienner-Anspach Fellow, Université libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: As the world went to war in 1914, a group of politicians, scholars, and activists drew up a radi-cally new concept of foreign policy. It rested on the assumption that the war was the result of a flawed diplomatic system and that democratic institutions would make international relations more peaceful. Specifically, they proposed a set of reforms to improve parliamentary oversight, to prohibit secret treaties, and to make foreign affairs more accessible to the general public. Des-pite ongoing hostilities, the advocates of democratic control built a transnational campaign across more than two dozen countries which resulted in countless pamphlets, public events, and acade-mic publications. Their agenda resonated with Wilsonian and socialist visions for a democratic peace, yet it ultimately failed to materialise in the peace terms. This article examines the cam-paign for democratic control of foreign policy from the outbreak of the war to the drafting of the peace. By drawing on the papers of politicians, academics, and pressure groups from Europe and the United States, it reveals the transnational scope and political ambitions of the campaign. Cru-cially, it demonstrates that their arguments were more sophisticated than mere anti-war propa-ganda and deserve to be remembered as part of the historiography of the First World War and its aftermath.

Bio: Jan Stöckmann works on twentieth century political thought and diplomacy. His doctoral dissertation, completed in 2017 at the University of Oxford, explores the formation of International Relations as an academic discipline from 1914 to the Second World War. Based on archival research across six countries, it shows how the study of war and peace was shaped by scholars as well as practitioners of foreign politics, resulting in intellectual inconsistencies and political failures. Jan holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics, and a dual M.A./M.Sc. in International and World History. From 2017 to 2018, he was the Brady-Johnson pre-doctoral fellow at International Security Studies, Yale University. In 2018, he was awarded a Wiener-Anspach post-doctoral fellowship at the Université libre de Bruxelles. His research has been published in The International History ReviewHistory Compass, and the Review of International Studies.  

Awareness Raising and Moral leverage: Caritas Europa’s strategy to mobilise the public opinion around the 2030 agenda

Ms Valentina Revelli, Université libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development certainly represents an important advocacy tool for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). However, for CSOs in Brussels like Caritas Europa Secretariat, the lack of popular awareness around the Sustainable Development Goals represents a major challenge to their advocacy work in order to influence the European institutions and their external policies. In this context, the mobilisation of the public opinion becomes essential to strengthen Caritas’ Secretariat advocacy messages and increase its legitimacy and credibility both vis à vis the European Institutions and vis à vis its national constituencies.  Being a religious-based organisation, since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda Caritas Europa engaged in intense awareness raising activities combined with the use of moral catholic incentives as part of an advocacy and communication strategy that aims to speak to “the hearts and minds” of the people to encourage grassroot mobilisation around EU development policies.

Bio: Valentina Revelli recently completed ULB Master degree in International Relations: Security, Peace and Conflict Studies. With a strong passion for migration and development studies, her thesis focuses on the role of Civil Society Organisations in influencing the implementation of the Agenda 2030 within the EU external policies. She is now an intern at UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and she has previously completed a traineeship at the European Commission in DG DEVCO.

Online registration required by February 8th  ► here

Tuesday, February 12th2019, 12-4 pm

ULB – IEE Solbosch Campus, Kant Room

Avenue F. Roosevelt 39, 1050 Bruxelles

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