Australia and North Africa - A Complex Modern Reality

Author: Hannah Climas

Climas, Hannah, 2017 Australia and North Africa - A Complex Modern Reality, Flinders University, School of History and International Relations

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This thesis analyses and critiques the foreign policy formation of successive Australian governments towards the five Arab states of North Africa – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia – and argues that (with few exceptions) these bilateral relationships are trade-based and unlikely to change, even in the face of international crises such as the Arab Spring. The question underpinning the analysis conducted in this thesis is “what does North Africa have to offer Australia?” The research here concludes that economic concerns, trade, mining, Foreign Direct Investment, and developmental aid, provided strong incentives for Australia’s ongoing engagement in the region. This engagement occurred during a time of huge social and political upheaval in the region and, as it is argued in this thesis, coincided Australia’s with successful campaign for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council 2013-2015. It is argued here that this was a blatant example of Australia’s activist ambitions, and thus this thesis questions Australia’s foreign policy formation, including its dedication to a stable world order; its investment in peaceful political reform in developing regions; and its obligations above and beyond the United Nations.

This thesis argues that there are foreign policy frameworks that transcend domestic political party lines, and that this framework is founded on the three tenets of Australian foreign policy formation – ongoing support for our ‘great and powerful friend’ the United States; ongoing ties with the Asia-Pacific region (including China); and ongoing support for and active engagement with the United Nations. What has been termed a ‘re-engagement’ under the activist Rudd Labor Australian government was not a paradigmatic shift in foreign policy formation – it was a reorientation precipitated by a specific series of events that nevertheless saw a continuation of Australia’s economic policies and continued to be driven by Australia’s domestic political concerns. This approach was a consequence of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s belief that Africa is a ‘complex modern reality’ that presents more opportunities than threats, and that these opportunities require an increasingly activist foreign policy.

Keywords: Australia, North Africa, Africa, United Nations, Foreign Policy, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Arab Spring, Egypt, Libya, Diplomacy, Trade, International Relations, Live Export, United Nations Security Council

Subject: History thesis, International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of History and International Relations
Supervisor: Dr Tanya Lyons