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Defence, Diplomacy, and Development: Building a Safer, Fairer and Cleaner World

Published Thursday, January 23, 2020

This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the debate due to take place on 30 January 2020 on the motion moved by Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Labour) that “this House takes note of the role played by defence, diplomacy and development policy in building a safer, fairer and cleaner world”.

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In the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the Government announced an “integrated security, defence and foreign policy review […] covering all aspects of international policy from defence to diplomacy and development”. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, stated that it would be “the most radical reassessment of our place in the world since the end of the Cold War”. The review will take place in 2020. The new Government has made other announcements on various aspects of international policy, such as girls’ education and tackling human rights abuses. Commentators have described the changing world order that forms a backdrop to these initiatives: for example, in the ‘America First’ stance of the US, the rising power of China, the influence of Russia and the impact of climate change.

Prior to completion of the integrated review, these areas are covered by a number of policy documents, including the national security strategy. These have increasingly emphasised the linkages between the various aspects of policy: for example, between peace and poverty reduction in the developing world, or between security, overseas aid and climate change.

Governmental structures reflect these linkages. The conflict, security and stability fund is cross-departmental, while the stabilisation unit also includes military, police and civilian representation. The Ministry of Defence (MOD), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID) all have objectives to enhance the UK’s global influence using a range of tools. The new Government has not announced any changes to departmental responsibilities, but speculation continues about whether DFID might be made part of the FCO after Brexit.

Various parliamentary committees have produced relevant reports. The House of Lords International Relations Committee recommended investing more in the UK’s “global diplomatic presence and supporting resources”. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee called for a more “coherent strategic direction for UK foreign policy”. The House of Commons International Development Committee said that all UK overseas aid should be consistent with both poverty reduction and tackling climate change.

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.