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"Neither staunch friends nor confirmed foes": New Zealand's defence diplomacy in Asia

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posted on 2021-11-13, 23:30 authored by Fris, Justin

Read a recent Defence White Paper of any number of countries or look at the range of foreign relations one country has with others in the contemporary age, and one is likely to come across the term 'defence diplomacy'. The traditional function of armed forces has been to prepare for and undertake the use of force. As part of this role, armed forces have cooperated with those of other nations to enhance security by countering or deterring potential enemies. In the post-Cold War era however, a new form of defence relations has emerged; in contrast to, yet supplementing their traditional role, armed forces have been employed in building cooperative relationships between former and potential future foes.  This shift is explained by the concept of defence diplomacy; the concept identified by Andrew Cottey and Anthony Forster that armed forces have a peacetime role in pursuit of broader foreign and security policy goals. Recognising that defence cooperation activities have a long history, Cottey and Forster differentiated defence diplomacy between 'old', meaning those traditional defence cooperation activities aimed at allies and friendly states, and 'new', meaning defence cooperation aimed at potential or former enemies.  New Zealand, like many other countries, has used the term since the 1990s to describe those aspects of the diplomatic relationship, specifically peacetime cooperative activities, performed by the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force with the armed forces of other nations. This thesis explores the origins of defence diplomacy and the adoption of the concept by New Zealand. It looks at the way in which New Zealand has developed and managed its 'old' defence diplomacy in Asia through examining the example of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. It then explores New Zealand’s 'new' defence diplomacy with what are considered here as “non-like-minded” states such as China, Viet Nam and Indonesia. Through these three case studies, the thesis examines key dilemmas and problems of defence diplomacy that have arisen in the development of these key relationships. The thesis then concludes with an analysis of New Zealand’s defence diplomacy according to the framework established by Cottey and Forster.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

940301 Improving Defence and Security

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Capie, David; Ayson, Robert