Miliband answers: 20 questions from Avaaz
|On 19 July 2007, Avaaz.org agreed to co-host the first speech of UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband - because he agreed to take questions from Avaaz members around the world. As you can see from the YouTube video, he answered three on the day. We also handed him a "book of global public opinion" with over 3000 pieces of advice, warning and encouragement, comments and questions.
We've now received from the Foreign Secretary another 20 answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions (posted below): many of these make interesting reading.
Miliband called Avaaz "the best of the new diplomacy". So while there remains plenty of room for improvement in British foreign policy, this conversation is far from over. We will follow up these questions in our global community's future advocacy with the UK, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a powerful state in its own right. We expect to be giving particular attention to Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other things.
If you want to continue the conversation here, email email@example.com and we will post responses which meet a standard of civility. Bloggers should feel free to link or repost. First, click on each of the questions below to see David Miliband's written answers, or click here to read the whole thing.
Question 1: Is it possible to have an ethical foreign policy?
Question 2: Guantanamo is enormously damaging to our international reputation for justice and upholding international law - it should never have been allowed and must be closed.
Question 3: When is the UK going to take a lead against dictatorships and end human suffering in Darfur (Sudan), Zimbabwe, Burma to mention a few? It is outrageous what the named regimes are able to do to their citizens. Please bring peace and individual safety to these people.
Question 4: Mr. Miliband, I am grateful for the opportunity to ask you a question today. As an environmentalist who has been involved in international policy for thirty years, I welcome in principle the development of a "new diplomacy", because "old diplomacy" clearly has not worked for the majority of people on Earth, nor for the environment. As a key partner of the US, Canada and Australia, what is your game plan to convince them to accept a Kyoto 2 climate change regime for 2012 which includes what experts say is the only environmentally realistic emission reduction target of greenhouse gases: 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels?
Question 5: Please can you tell me the three things you learned from the resolution in Northern Ireland that you will apply in your role as Foreign Secretary?
Question 6: How will your foreign policy get involved in the necessary "dialogue between civilizations" that is the only long-term solution to the current conflicts between the West and the rest?
Question 7: Is ending world wide poverty a priority for your government and if so will you commit to at least 0.7% of your GDP to help? How will you encourage other Western countries like Canada to contribute more international development aid?
Question 8: The longstanding injustice suffered by the Palestinian people is at the root of much conflict in Palestine and beyond. Injustice breeds immense anger and distrust and acts of violence between those who experience the injustice and those who deliver it. What are you as Foreign Secretary, going to do to (1) help re-establish trust, (2) work for a lasting justice for both Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and (3) begin to break the cycles of blame and counterblame, wherever they might be?
Question 9: Will the UK henceforth take a major role in forming a united foreign policy for the European Union which will have real influence on US policy as 'the West' strives to recover, through enlightened multilateralism from grave damage world wide caused by the present Bush Administration?
Question 10: Will the British government respect any governments that are democratically elected, regardless of their political affiliation? Will England respect the right of the people to be governed by the political parties of their choice?
Question 11: How do you propose to deal with democratically elected governments in the Middle East that hold unpopular views in the West. I am thinking about the Hamas government in the Occupied Territories and the government of Lebanon that includes Hizbollah members?
Question 12: People in so-called third world countries are wondering when rich countries are going to stop subsidising their goods, so that our products can enter their markets the way theirs enter ours? The current situation is unfair and it will destroy our economies.
Question 13: While supporting and advancing the UK's interests abroad, how important will the voices and needs of the people impacted by policies be in your priorities and decisions? How will you work to hear and respond to the needs and concerns of the voiceless?
Question 14: I think the world's biggest worry for the near future will be if the USA decides to bomb nuclear facilities in Iran, or if it allows Israel to do it for them. My question is then what is your attitude about this issue and how would you respond if the Americans decided to go ahead with an attack on Iran?
Question 15: What positive future British foreign policy will be developed that will allow ordinary Iraqis to rebuild their country without the physical presence of British military forces? Can you envisage an inclusive coalition for commonsense with other countries?
Question 16: How do you see our future role within the UN?
Question 17: What positive steps will the new British government be taking to reduce, and eventually outlaw, nuclear weapons - not only in so-called 'rogue' states like North Korea - but in all countries, including Britain and the USA?
Question 18: Would you, Mr Miliband, consider closing DESO, the government organisation that supports and promotes the business of British arms manufacturers abroad, and replacing it with an organisation that supports and promotes the development of green technologies that could help to reduce potential future conflicts over sources of energy and other natural resources, and those arising out of the effects of global warming?
Question 19: If you refuse to extradite former Russian citizens whom the Russian government wants to prosecute - why do you expect Russia to extradite to the UK people whom you want to prosecute?
Question 20: When & why would you decide to go to war?