Global Justice and Foreign Policy: The Case of the European Union
Since its inception, the European Union has proclaimed an ambition to promote values and justice at the global level. In this paper, I discuss how we can assess a foreign policy that has such an ambition. There is no common understanding of how claims to justice beyond borders should be met. Further, in order to be relevant any critical assessment of foreign policy must take into consideration the constraints of global politics, while at the same time not losing sight of normative requirements. In order to take heed of these concerns, I suggest an analytical framework based on three different conceptions of global justice. These conceptions come with strengths and weaknesses, as they prioritise some challenges to global justice over others. The differences between these conceptions facilitate the empirical effort of discerning inhibiting and facilitating factors for the conduct of a just foreign policy – of taking into account the constraints of global politics. At the same time, the framework acknowledges the contested nature of justice without compromising on the need to assess foreign policy practice against explicit normative criteria. The approach makes it possible for the analyst to provide a more nuanced assessment as well as one based on what might be considered feasible criteria for justice, and to specify the strengths and weaknesses of the observed foreign policy practice from different perspectives.
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