IN a new publication from UCL Policy Lab and Hertford College, Oxford, leading figures from British diplomacy and international development, including the former Cabinet Secretary Lord Mark Sedwill, call for a renewed vision of UK foreign affairs.

Following a series of in-depth roundtable discussions, led by UCL Honorary Professor and former Director General at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Moazzam Malik, the report sets out a series of measures to renew and reform the UK foreign affairs function.

Those measures include:

  • Creating a Department for International Affairs or Global Affairs UK to help embed a clear long-term mission in the mandates guiding UK international institutions.
  • Over the medium term, allocate one per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) for international engagement to complement the commitment to two per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) defence spending.
  • Focus on multilateralism. Working with other middle powers such as Japan, Canada, and those in the EU to help shape issues.
  • Modernise the diplomatic service by making it more porous and open to specialists from across the civil service and outside.
  • Create mechanisms for wider engagement with civil society, business, and devolved administrations on foreign affairs.

Ahead of the report launch, Moazzam Malik spoke of the challenges with which the project had grappled: “The UK’s place in the world is changing dramatically as we live through rapid geopolitical turbulence and adjust to life outside the European Union. But our future prosperity and security as an open country in an interconnected world remains closely tied to global challenges and international collaboration.”

Commenting on the report, international development charity Christian Aid called for the return of the Department for International Development. Jennifer Larbie, Head of UK Advocacy and Campaigns at Christian Aid, said: “We are living through a time when global poverty and hunger is on the rise. Yet all the evidence shows the decision to abolish the government department tasked with tackling these challenges has been a complete and utter disaster.

“The UK must recognise its historic and current responsibility for helping to end extreme poverty. That means restoring the Department for International Development and shifting resources and decision-making into the hands of communities most in need.”

* Read: The World in 2040: Renewing the UK’s Approach to International Affairs here.

* Sources: University College London and Christian Aid