Fr. Patrick Riordan S.J. expressed his disappointment to nations who “cannot be trusted to keep their word” during a lecture on British Exit (Brexit) and International Relations.
“In international relations, how are we to cope in a world where states do not keep to their commitments; where states withdraw from their treaties?” he added before stating the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear expansion agreement it had with Iran as an example.
Riordan is currently a fellow for Political Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought at Campion Hall in the University of Oxford and has supervised some doctoral candidates and examined others in the Department of Religion and Theology.
“United Kingdom (U.K.) is being held to its commitments but doesn’t want to be held to its treaties. So how do we cope in a world where big and powerful players cannot be trusted to keep their word? What sort of international relations do we have; when promises will not be kept?” He shared.
The Brexit is an ongoing attempt of the U.K. to be liberated from the E.U. and has been a current issue since 2016 in the term of former Prime Minister David Cameron. However, after three years of waiting, it is expected that the U.K. is due to leave on October 31, 2019.
One of the issues arising in the delay of the Brexit is the risk of maintaining peace in Ireland since Northern Ireland and the country of Ireland was separated by a border which was effectively removed in the peace process. It is now in danger of being restored as a probable consequence of the Brexit.
Other issues that were given attention in 2017 include the welfare of E.U. citizens and the settling of debt to the union.
In relation to Riordan’s statement that “big countries do not keep their word,” Dennis B. Coronel, M.A., Chair of the Sociology Department, questioned what makes these states take back their commitment.
“What struck me at the end of the presentation is the question: What makes these states withdraw their promises? [When] In the beginning, the E.U. was a very good coming-together of states to harmonize and live harmoniously with each other,” he said.
He then emphasized that from a social perspective, the Brexit is a “question to reconsider our concepts of friendly neighbors and borders; and re-questioning our concept of nationalism.”
In response, Riordan posited that the U.K. got itself into the Brexit because of the abandonment of its structures and principles of self-government that eventually led to its chaos.
The Irish philosopher then reiterated that “a parliament is sovereign according to its constitution and that a referendum is not part of a rule where parliament is sovereign but is instead related to a republic.”
He said that in the first year of Brexit, there were no sufficient politicians, citizens, or civil society groups who protested against the way of ruling the parliament had done.
Riordan warned that if citizens are not aware of how they rule themselves as democracies, then they might be unaware of how they deal with their conflicts.
He then added that there must be caution in having institutions as no institution is perfect and they are prone to be “highjacked” and “abused” by other people.
As part of the reactions segment, Mary Donna Grace J. Cuenca, M.A., Chair of the Political Science and History Department, articulated her realization on both the positive and negative implications of the Brexit to the people and the academe.
“The Brexit is messy and difficult to understand; and because it is difficult to understand, it is scary to a lot of people. In this century where globalization is already happening, attempts to understand the Brexit becomes even more important, and I think the academic community has a big role to play,” she emphasized, adding that further research must be conducted to find out the Brexit’s effect on Third World countries, especially the Philippines.
Ma. Ritchell D. Abordo, M.A., Assistant Professor of the Economics Department, expressed her observation of the mismatch between the economic integration and political integration in the E.U.
She also inquired on how states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should commence integration without making the same mistakes as the E.U. committed.
“It seems like there is a mismatch between the economic integration and the political and other aspects integration; it seems that it did not synchronize; hence, we have such issues nowadays. So in my mind, if an E.U. model is the one that we’re trying to imitate with the ASEAN integration, how do we do it so that we will not be making the same mistake?” Abordo said.
Riordan then replied that a customs union like the E.U. would not be appropriate among the islands of the Philippines and that free trade and mutual agreements would be more conceivable to the country’s economy.
The forum, entitled: “BREXIT and International Relations: Globalization vs. Nationalism” was part of the Social Sciences Lecture Series 2019 which was participated by various students in the School of Arts and Sciences, Social Sciences Cluster.