The Organized Hypocrisy of Ethical Foreign Policy: Human Rights, Democracy and Western Arms Sales

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Perkins, Richard; & Neumayer, Eric (2010) The Organized Hypocrisy of Ethical Foreign Policy: Human Rights, Democracy and Western Arms Sales , Geoforum 41(2): 247–256 .

Over the past two decades, Western political leaders have scripted a more ethical foreign policy, wherein far greater weight is given to protecting the rights and freedoms of extra-territorial citizens. Using the example of arms exports to developing countries, the present paper exposes the organized hypocrisy underlying countries’ self-declared ethical turn. We show that the major Western arms supplying states – France, Germany, the UK and the US – have generally not exercised export controls so as to discriminate against human rights abusing or autocratic countries during the post-Cold War period. Rather, we uncover ongoing territorial egoism, in that arms have been exported to countries which serve supplying states’ domestic economic and security interests.

Authors

Eric Neumayer

Eric Neumayer

Professor of Environment and Development at London School of Economics