The Good International Citizenship of the Rudd Government

Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 30, Forthcoming

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/72

55 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012 Last revised: 26 Sep 2012

See all articles by Alison Pert

Alison Pert

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 24, 2012


'Good international citizenship' is a phrase that has been in and out of vogue in Australia over the past two decades. Yet despite its sporadic popularity, there is no agreement on what good international citizenship actually means: the (surprisingly limited) literature tends to focus instead on the foreign policy Australia has followed or ought to adopt as a good international citizen, without analyzing the meaning of the term. Understandably, the concept has featured most prominently in the discourse of international relations scholars and foreign policy practitioners.

It is suggested, however, that good international citizenship is of equal interest and relevance to the international lawyer, and while we might all recognize good international citizenship when we see it, an international lawyer’s understanding of the concept might be quite different from that of an international relations practitioner. This article therefore briefly explores what good international citizenship might mean to an international lawyer, and the role that international law, and international institutions, might play in determining good international citizenship, and focuses on two core criteria. The first is engagement with international law – treaty participation, compliance, and policy and practice in areas such as human rights, the environment, indigenous issues, mandatory sentencing, the treatment of asylum seekers, and anti-terrorism laws. The second is Australia’s attitude to multilateralism, in fields such as climate change, the UN, overseas aid, peacekeeping and disarmament.

Applying these criteria, this article then seeks to assess, from the perspective of an international lawyer, the good international citizenship of the Rudd government (December 2007-June 2010).

Keywords: good international citizenship, definition, international law, Kevin Rudd, Gareth Evans, treaty participation, compliance with international law, multilateralism, United Nations, Australia

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Pert, Alison, The Good International Citizenship of the Rudd Government (September 24, 2012). Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 30, Forthcoming; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 12/72. Available at SSRN:

Alison Pert (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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