Warning from politicians and experts in new Foreign Policy Centre and Oxfam report
A cross-party group of senior parliamentarians and independent experts are calling on the Government to put internationalist values at the heart of UK foreign policy or risk a loss of global influence, in a collection of essays published today by Oxfam GB and the Foreign Policy Centre.
‘Finding Britain’s role in a changing world: building a values-based foreign policy’ includes contributions from Tobias Ellwood MP, Baroness Anelay and Lord McConnell, among others. It follows the Government’s launch of a major Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy that the Prime Minister has pledged will set out a joined-up vision for Britain’s post-Brexit role in the world.
The essay authors argue this affords the UK an opportunity to show leadership by articulating a powerful ambition for ‘Global Britain’ defined by commitments to human rights, free and fair trade, and making a substantial impact on poverty and inequality. However, a transactional approach that prioritises short-term, narrowly defined security, trade and other economic gains would risk diminishing the UK’s position on the world stage.
Adam Hug, Foreign Policy Centre Director, said: “If the UK wants to continue to be seen as a leader in the world it must have the confidence to stand up for what it believes in. The Government should ensure that all its international policies work to support a clear commitment of values that underpin the idea of Global Britain.
“Failure to actively stand up for its values will be seen as a sign of weakness and inexorable decline at a time when there is international uncertainty about Britain’s standing and role in the world. Britain must aspire to be more than simply a cold, wet Dubai.”
To ensure that decisions about diplomacy, trade, security and international development are all equally rooted in these values, Oxfam and The Foreign Policy Centre recommend that the Government’s new integrated review develops a ‘Global Britain Values Statement’, with all major policy and spending decisions with an international dimension measured against this using a ‘Global Britain Test’.
Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said: “What Britain does now will not only help shape the diplomatic environment we have to work within for decades to come, but is also a chance to find ways of addressing global challenges such as poverty and the climate emergency that benefit the UK and the world.
“Rather than submit to the triple threats of tendencies towards nationalism, a focus on trade that overshadows all other priorities, and a nostalgia that our international partners may view as an attempt to create ‘Empire 2.0’, the UK should adopt a compelling, coherent foreign policy approach based on the internationalist values that have been such a key part of what has made Britain great.”
The report comes at a time when the principles of liberal democracy and a rules-based world order are facing their greatest challenge in a generation from authoritarianism and populism. It warns that UN climate talks in Glasgow in November will be the first big test of a values-based vision for ‘Global Britain’, and that the world will be watching closely to see if Britain can deliver the leadership we need.
The report’s key recommendations to the UK Government:
. Agree a ‘Global Britain’ values statement of the principles underpinning its role in the world.
. Develop a ‘Global Britain Test’ that assesses the impact of policies against its principles.
. Engage with and reform the multilateral and global institutions the UK remains a part of.
. Defend the independence of DFID, the 0.7% GNI pledge on aid and the focus on reducing poverty.
. Show the UK still has the confidence and stature to stand up for its values by supporting those who defend them, and speaking out and taking action when they are abused.
. Show climate leadership with effective diplomacy for COP26 in Glasgow and more domestic reform.
. Deliver on new financial transparency commitments and further actions on tax havens.
. Improve parliamentary and public scrutiny of new trade negotiations, and ensure Parliament has a final vote on any new trade deals.
Notes to editors
- The essay collection ‘Finding Britain’s role in a changing world: building a values based foreign policy’ will be available (at 00.01 Tuesday 3rd March) on the Foreign Policy Centre and Oxfam websites. It contains short essays from authors including: Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP (Chair of the Defence Select Committee); Baroness Anelay (Chair of the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee); Lord McConnell (Former First Minister of Scotland); Caroline Lucas MP (former leader of the Green Party); Theo Clarke MP (International Development Select Committee); Stephen Twigg (former Chair of the International Development Select Committee); Ruth Bergen (Trade Justice Movement) and Dr Emily Jones (University of Oxford); Marissa Conway (Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy); Teresa Dumasy, Jonathan Cohen (Conciliation Resources) and Richard Reeve (Rethinking Security); and Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales).
- It has been edited by Foreign Policy Centre Director Adam Hug, Oxfam GB Humanitarian Policy Advisor Dr. Abigael Baldoumas, Oxfam GB Head of Advocacy Katy Chakrabortty and Oxfam GB Chief Executive Dr Danny Sriskandarajah.
- The findings of the publication will be discussed at a launch event in Parliament on Tuesday 3rd March at 6pm-7.30pm with speakers Baroness Anelay, Lord McConnell, Theo Clarke MP, Dr Emily Jones, Dr Danny Sriskandarajah and chair Adam Hug. The event is full to the public but if journalists wish to attend please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) is an outward-looking, non-partisan international affairs think tank based in the UK. (fpc.org.uk)
- Oxfam GB is part of a global confederation of organisations working in more than 90 countries around the world to beat the injustice of poverty. (oxfam.org.uk)