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Partnerships for the future of UK Foreign Policy: Introduction

Article by Adam Hug

December 16, 2020

Partnerships for the future of UK Foreign Policy: Introduction

Alliances and partnerships have been at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy throughout its history and they will be central its future. While at different points in history the UK has been more or less engaged, diplomatically and militarily, with its neighbours on the continent or others around the world, despite popular myth in some quarters to the contrary, Britain has rarely stood truly alone for long.[1]


However, this publication comes at a time when the precise nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU remains unclear, though irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations the immediate scope of formal cooperation is significantly diminished, even from the May-era plans. As the UK seeks to move forward from this tumultuous period it will need not only to rethink how it works with the EU and its Member States but how it plans to work with other partners around the world not only bilaterally but particularly in existing multilateral institutions and new forums. The UK will need to show that it understands the interests of its partners as it tries to build on existing areas of cooperation and find new ones if it is to move forward effectively as a ‘Global Britain’.


So this publication examines both the UK’s relationship with some of the most important existing multilateral and international institutions including the UN system, NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Commonwealth. It looks at the scope for future UK-EU collaboration around shared interests and values, in the absence of a deep and structured partnership in foreign and security policy, while also examining the future of the US-UK relationship in a challenging and potentially changing environment. It also explores the possibilities of new formal and informal coalitions of like-minded countries to defend human rights and liberal democracy against growing authoritarian threats.


The importance of multilateralism

The delayed, but hopefully imminent, Integrated Review will provide an important opportunity to lay out what the Government sees as its vision for the UK’s future engagement with multilateralism and the international rules based order. There are clear signs in its statements and actions that the Government is moving away from seeing the international rules based system as an end in itself and towards a more instrumental approach, though it has talked in terms of still supporting the core tenets of multilateralism. This may stem not only from this Government’s particular concerns of being bound by agreements that limit its freedom of action, a desire expressed clearly in its Brexit end state policy preferences, but also from the a realpolitik assessment of the emerging shape of the international order and the Government’s response to it.


It is undoubtedly true that the UK and its allies no longer dominate the creation and shaping of the rules to the same extent that it used to, with countries in the global south more strongly asserting their interests. While such a more instrumental approach may seem attractive to some from a tactical perspective, it poses the obvious question as to why others who have not had a dominant role in setting the rules should be expected to follow them (something successive UK Governments have encouraged them to do for decades). A world where China is a major international force and the global south is more coordinated and confident in a range of different forums is not something that has come a surprise to the UK and other Western powers. It is only right that global power becomes more equitably distributed in many areas, while recognising the risks posed to the international system by authoritarian states as set out in the ‘The principles for Global Britain’ publication.[2]


However many, including this editor, still believe that the international rule-based world order does have an intrinsic value, both morally and in terms of global stability, which is worth defending. This is particularly true for an internationally focused economy and society such as the UK, which benefits from having an international order with consistent rules and relative reliability rather than one red in tooth and claw. As the outgoing President Trump has shown, it is hard to make a transactional approach work even for a country the size of the US and it is not a way of operating that will prove effective for the UK.


This publication does not seek to beatify the UN or other international bodies, nor to ignore the dysfunction that many of them face. As is set out in this and previous publications in the series the UK will have to do a lot of hard work to retain and build alliances with like-minded countries in different areas to make the global system work in both the national and international interest but it is imperative that it does so. The UK will also need to be able to have a functioning relationship with China, Russia and other powers that it has principled disagreements with on issues that transcend political systems and ideology such as climate change and the maintenance of international peace and security in areas that do not threaten the interests of respective parties.


Traditional partners and institutions

It is something of an understatement to point out that the Conservative Government has substantially shifted its approach to the future relationship with the EU since September 2017 when it said that the UK: ‘will seek to agree new arrangements that enable us to sustain close UK-EU cooperation that will allow us to tackle our shared threats. The UK therefore envisages cooperation on external action to be central to our future partnership, complementing broader national security and law enforcement collaboration to tackle complex, multi-faceted threats.’[3]


Under Boris Johnson’s leadership there have been no substantive discussions (at least not that have been shared with the public) between the UK and EU about a future foreign policy relationship forming part of any putative post-transition deal. Efforts to pin the blame for potential failure in the negotiations on the other party will sap mutual goodwill into the medium term, even if a last minute fix is found. Even after passions have cooled and the focus is able to rise from the minutia of trade negotiations it is unlikely the UK Government in its present form will want to pursue a particularly deep or structural future partnership on foreign and security policy with the EU. As Rosa Balfour says in her contribution to this collection the time for pragmatic proposals for future UK involvement and association with EU foreign and security policy have gone, for now. The UK has already taken steps to proactively partner with non-EU powers on initiatives and statements, most notably and fruitfully Canada, and the Foreign Secretary has actively encouraged diplomats to act in ways which show the UK has left the EU. However, it is important to ensure diplomats, and where political will exists politicians, are not discouraged from continuing to find ways, both traditional and creative, to keep working together with the EU institutionally where it is in the UK national interest, a new modus vivendi that recognises the enduring nature of many still shared values. The UK may wish that more could be achieved by purely bilateral initiatives with key EU partner countries but as the progress of the trade negotiations have shown member states are loathe to do things that could potentially  undermine or side-line EU institutions in areas where the EU has competence on their behalf. The UK is no longer a member state seeking to build alliances to shape EU decisions on which it has a say, but it is now a third country and which will necessitate working with the EU External Action Service and EU Commission where these institutions are delivering the agenda of member states.


So In the medium to longer term it would still be extremely helpful for the UK have some form of structured agreement or at least a semi-structured engagement with the EU around foreign and security policy. This is in recognition of: the somewhat process-driven ways in which the EU conducts its foreign policy (managing the interests of 27 member states), shared values between the UK and EU and the EU’s institutional weight in areas of interest to the UK. As Professor Jamie Shea points out in his essay: ‘the UK had the opportunity even from outside the EU to associate itself with these developments when it concluded the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship at the same time as the Withdrawal Agreement.[4] The Declaration opened up many prospects for cooperation on terrorism, intelligence and data exchange, UK participation in CSDP missions, observer status at some EU foreign and defence ministers meetings and European Councils and third party access to certain EU capabilities programmes where it has something to contribute’ but that these are not opportunities the UK has decided to take up. He also points out that the absence of the UK in the EU is likely to further expedite the expansion of EU competences in the area of defence and security, which will hamper both the British desire to expand bilateral defence cooperation with EU member states and shift certain discussions away from NATO, the UK’s long-preferred venue for security cooperation.


As Shea points out the Government currently sees ‘Brexit as giving it equality of status with the EU and therefore will not accept to be a non-voting participant or observer at EU meetings’. Even if a future government is not as wedded to this particular view it will be a continuing issue of political contention. Irrespective of whether a trade deal can be done, either now or in the future, it is to be hoped that the UK and EU can find a way to agree either a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement or a Strategic Partnership Agreement that can formalise future non-trade cooperation and facilitate peer to peer level structured engagement and dialogue, including periodic summits and official meetings. A way could potentially be found within such a framework to operationalise greater information sharing and dialogue over the development of both the EU’s Common Foreign and Security policy and the UK’s foreign policy.[5]


Another feature of such an agreement could be to provide structure to future dialogue between Parliaments. For far too long the level of understanding about how EU institutions operate at Westminster has been sub-optimal, with the average UK Parliamentarian’s previous engagement with the European Parliament often mediated through interactions with their party’s MEPs, usually in either social or political campaigning situations that didn’t provide particular illumination about the European Parliament’s role or ways of working. At present, there is no EU Parliament Delegation to the UK, though the European Parliament retains a liaison office in London based at Europe House, home to the EU Delegation to the UK.[6] International engagement overall by the UK Parliament is something of a patchwork with formal delegations reserved only for participation in the Parliamentary Assemblies of the OSCE, NATO and Council of Europe.[7] At the other end of the spectrum of formality are the All-Party Parliamentary Country Groups, ad hoc groupings of MPs have no funding or administrative support other than that provided by the MPs themselves or external sponsors (including often the Embassies of the country in question).[8] In the middle sit the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG) whose UK chapters have offices within the Parliamentary Estate and coordinate collaborations between parliamentarians from countries within their memberships.[9] It is the BAPG, with alternating annual conferences, Governmental-backing and part financing from the UK Parliamentary Authorities, which could provide the model for the UK side of a future structured dialogue between the UK and European Parliaments that both sides would benefit from.


As the UK completes its withdrawal from its structured relationship with the most significant pan-European institution it is important that the UK seeks to find ways to redouble its efforts to engage with the other major institutions that bring the UK in to contact with its European partners, notably the OSCE, Council of Europe and NATO. The particular challenges the UK needs to respond to in relation to these organisations are addressed in the essays by Anna Chernova, Prof Jamie Shea and by Dr Alice Donald and Prof Philip Leach respectively. All three institutions have faced significant structural challenges in recent years, the first two due to increasing tensions driven by growing authoritarian assertiveness from Turkey, Russia and a number of others in the post-Soviet space; the latter by the interaction between the Trump Presidency’s abusive approach and the long-standing failure of many members to meet their agreed defence spending obligations.


The incoming Biden administration provides NATO with some breathing space but the structural problems remain around funding, capability, the US pivot to Asia, the role of Turkey and the EU’s growing competences in the defence and security arena.[10] The UK has long opposed this latter development but will find it harder to raise such objection from outside the EU and in the absence of a structured agreement with the EU, as mentioned above, the UK will have to find new ways to make NATO structures for collaboration more attractive if it wishes to stem the further flow of responsibility from NATO to the EU.


The OSCE and Council of Europe have a lower profile in the British public debate, though the latter sometimes gets thrust into the limelight when a row over the findings of its European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) reaches tabloid attention. Their Parliamentary Assemblies, though deeply flawed, provide important opportunities for international dialogue between Parliamentarians. However perhaps more importantly both institutions provide the architecture for a number of human rights bodies and conflict resolution mechanisms that play an important role, particularly in the post-Soviet space, in underpinning the values Britain seeks to promote. These include not only the ECtHR, but the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venice Commission (the European Commission for Democracy through Law), the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE’s Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM) and its High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM). As part of the Integrated Review and new thinking about the use of UK aid, the Government could explore ways to directly fund projects by these mechanisms to promote open societies and human rights in countries that meet the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) criteria for aid eligibility.


As Donald and Leach point out the UK’s occasionally fraught debate about the ECtHR already has helped give political space for Russia and other authoritarian countries to downgrade their level of compliance with Court rulings. The long-promised but recently announced review of the UK’s Human Rights Act, includes a focus on the relationship between domestic courts and the ECtHR, carries the risk of undermining the situation still further if not handled with care and an international perspective that ensures the UK’s adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights and ECtHR rulings are maintained.[11] Both the Chernova and Donald and Leach essays also raise an important point, made previously by this author as well, that the UK should find ways to improve the stature and relevance of UK delegations, something that could include enhancing their cooperation with Government, relevant Select Committee (particularly the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committees in the Commons and the Lords International Relations Committee(s)) and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, as well as loosening control of party whips and the Prime Minister by allowing direct election by MPs.[12]


With democracy under threat throughout the region, the Government should find ways to protect and expand its active participation in the OSCE ODIHR’s gold standard independent election observation missions that often provide the only credible assessment of democratic performance on the ground within the OSCE region.[13] If opportunities arise the UK should be more proactive in putting forward qualified candidates to head in country offices on secondment and it should find ways to encourage and support UK officials who wish to take time out of their FCDO careers to work in the administrations of these organisations, as well as considering potential candidates for the top jobs in future.


Once touted as the future of the UK’s post-Brexit foreign and trade policy the Commonwealth itself has not been place at the centre of the recent British debate, with focus narrowing to collaboration with its largest and most developed members as set out in the next section. This is perhaps in recognition of the divergent global priorities of many of the Commonwealth’s members, many of whom often operate through global south bodies such as the G77 at the UN. In their essay in this collection, Sanjoy Hazarika and Sneh Aurora highlight ways in which the UK could be proactive in working with and through the Commonwealth to promote human rights and good governance. They argue that the UK could lead the Commonwealth in addressing issues around Modern Slavery and abuse in supply chains that link both developed and developing members of the organisation.


One further idea might be looking at ways in which the Commonwealth Charter, adopted by the 53 member states in 2012 and signed by the Queen in 2013, could be increasingly used by the UK as a framework to underpin its relationships with Commonwealth countries and promote the values contained within it.[14] Although the document is not a binding treaty it is an agreed statement of shared values and aspirations by the member countries made less than a decade ago. The UK could utilise charter as a tool alongside UN treaties to shape its emerging approach to greater human rights conditionality in the distribution of UK aid.


At a global level the UK’s position as a member of UN Security Council’s permanent members, the role as the third largest financial contributor and significant diplomatic presence give it a continuing position of institutional influence as Richard Gowan and Enyseh Teimory point out in their essays.[15] The UK is currently seen to have played its hand effectively at the UN, on issues including the Iran nuclear issue, climate and Sudan. The UK’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council until 2023, having recently served a term ending in 2019, will continue to give the UK a platform to advocate for its values.[16] The UK could, however, do more in this regard by supporting more UK nationals to serve on UN Treaty Bodies and as UN Special Rapporteurs (SRs) and for the Government to respond in a more considered fashion when SRs’ criticise the UK’s own policies, even though it may not agree with them, given that it regularly encourages other countries to work with SRs and adopt their findings.[17]


This section started with the future of the UK’s relationships with the European pillar of its traditional alliance structure and ends with the relationship with Washington. Despite the ongoing tumult and further damaging of democratic norms as President Trump heads for the exit, the incoming Biden administration should provide an opportunity to bring greater stability and focus to transatlantic relationships including with the UK, particularly by cooling concerns over the future of NATO. Much has already been made of the Biden team’s scepticism towards Brexit and how the change of administration pauses any immediate opportunity for a UK-US trade deal, a process that was already replete with political challenges. Given the scale of Trump’s unpopularity with the vast majority of the British public, including the majority of Conservative voters, a Biden Presidency could take considerable political heat out of future US-UK cooperation.[18]


In London, the Government has been energetically trying to use the UK’s leadership of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and its commitment to tackling climate change as a way of redefining perceptions in the Democratic Party about the British Conservatives under Johnson. Given the level of priority being given to climate by Biden, the COP in Glasgow provides an essential mechanism for facilitating collaboration between London and Washington but the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will still shift the nature of the relationship over the medium term.


Despite the British political elite’s obsession with US politics, the row over the Northern Irish protocol suggests a lingering blind spot in terms of understanding Congressional priorities. There may be scope for encouraging the US Embassy in Washington to expand its bipartisan congressional outreach, to balance its traditional focus on engaging the Administration of the day. This could be complemented by enhancing Parliamentary engagement beyond periodic visits by Select Committees and support for the British-American Parliamentary Group.[19]


New partnerships

In addition to climate, another central pillar of the incoming Biden Administration’s foreign policy agenda is likely to be the promotion of democracy, including a pledge to convene a ‘Summit of Democracies’. Similar ideas have been floated by previous US leaders with President Obama suggesting the need for a ‘Concert of Democracies’ or former Senator John McCain’s calls for a ‘League of Democracies’ but the scale of democratic retrenchment gives greater urgency to such initiatives. There has been a flurry of different suggestions about how to formalise such initiatives in to new organisational structures, with the idea of a ‘D10’ that adds countries such as South Korea, Australia and potentially India to the G7 gaining traction. The still lingering shock to the international system of the Trump years, the continuing rise of China, the spoiler role played by Russia and the expansion of authoritarianism around the world provides a clear impetus to such efforts. Another separate but often interlinked driver is a desire to increase cooperation in the field of digital cooperation and regulation to prevent authoritarian powers from setting the rules of the game including in emerging areas of AI and cyber security.


As the UK holds the Presidency of the G7 in 2021 it has the ability to play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of such efforts. One central challenge it faces is in deciding which ‘D’ is most important for any such project. Since the decision to exclude Russia from the G8, the G7 has in effect reverted to being a forum for the larger economically advanced democracies but one, bar the notable exception of Japan, with a traditional transatlantic focus.[20] The idea for a D10 has its genesis in US State Department-led convening policy planners of allied states since 2008 that has evolved into a broader set of initiatives since 2013, involving participating Governments and organisations such as the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS) and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI- home to Aaron Shull and Wesley Wark who write in this collection).[21] The D10-Strategy Forum, where the ‘D’ stands for Democracies, brings together the G7 member nations, the EU (which attends G7 meetings) plus South Korea and Australia, meets annually since 2014, and there have been a number of calls for G7 to formally expand to mirror this format.[22]


Yet particularly during 2020, in the context of increasing tensions with China, discussions have turned to use such a forum as the backbone of a new digital security alliance, overlapping with discussions about using the current Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance as the basis for similar collaboration.[23] The question of whether the ‘D’ stands for Democracy or Digital would not only shape the institutional priorities of the new organisation but potentially its membership. A critical decision would be over the inclusion of India – a country whose security ties with the US, Japan and Australia are expanding through the role of ‘the Quad’ in the Indo-Pacific region and that continues a low-level conflict with China over border disputes in the Himalayas, but which also has for many years acted with different priorities to the current G7 at the UN and in other international forums.[24] However, under Prime Minister Modi there is every sign that democracy, certainly in the sense of a liberal democracy subject to rule of law and with protections for minorities, in the country is in significant retreat.[25] So if the promotion of ‘Democracy’ is the paramount goal for this new organisation, then now is not the time for India to be welcomed into such a forum, and the G7 expansion should be limited to bringing in South Korea and Australia to mirror the existing informal arrangements of the D10-Strategy Forum.[26]


This is not to say there is not scope for further economic and security cooperation but any engagement needs to try to avoid legitimating Modi’s erosion of democratic norms and ensuring the new format can pro-actively respond to the global crisis of democracy. The UK should try to avoid its post-Brexit desire to boost trade with India from becoming interlinked with such decision-making. Also for issues relating digital infrastructure more thought be given on how to involve the EU and member states, notably Sweden and Finland given their tech companies (Ericsson and Nokia) are central to efforts to provide alternatives to Chinese made systems. So there is a strong case for new architecture for managing digital threats being complimentary, potentially overlapping with, but broader than the focus for any new ‘D’ format institution.


While building and strengthening relationships with other consolidated democracies it is essential to find ways to improve relations with a broader range of likeminded partners, particularly in the global south, something that is both inherently of value but also essential to prevent isolation on the world stage. So irrespective of whether or not India under its current leadership is included in any revised group of large democracies, there is clearly a need to also reach out more to a large group of democracies in some capacity. In his essay Thomas E. Garrett makes the case that his organisation, the Community of Democracies (to which the UK is an active contributor), could be a platform to do this. There is certainly an important case to avoid unnecessarily reinventing the wheel, given the existing infrastructure and signatories to the Warsaw Declaration, however thought would need to be given to setting more exacting standards for democratic compliance (given some of the currently participating states) that in turn led to greater benefits for participants.[27] New ways should be found to promote the experiences of countries like Mauritius and Costa Rica to ensure that democracy promotion is not only about modelling behaviours found in the ‘West’.[28]


Increased cooperation between democracies must try to avoid creating unnecessary divides with members of the G77 (the group of 134 developing nations that often make joint statements in concert with China), particularly those who are themselves democracies or genuinely seeking to reform.[29] If such democracy focused alliances end up being used primarily to drive the economic objectives of rich powers in opposition to the interests of developing economies rather than shared objectives it would be an enormous strategic error. It would exacerbate rather than reduce the structural inequalities in the international system and open the door for authoritarian powers to further position themselves as the friend of developing nations against Western arrogance. Similarly, as Teimory and others point out, the UK and others need to avoid falling into a rigid cold-war style binary as there are issues, particularly climate change, that require active collaboration with non-democracies and where interests and values may align irrespective of government type. Active and nimble diplomacy will be needed to avoid pro-democracy initiatives triggering additional authoritarian collaboration unnecessarily.


Any UK diplomatic leadership on new global initiatives should be bolstered by efforts to enhance its support for democracy promotion, governance and human rights. This has been a common theme of the previous publications in this series, which looked at ways that the FCDO’s new priority on supporting Open Societies could be used to buttress initiatives by British NGOs and academics, as well as better aligning aid and trade with human rights objectives.[30] In addition to such initiatives, the UK has an opportunity to support the further expansion of both the capacity and scope of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the UK’s arms-length democracy promotion institution.[31] Despite its recent growth it remains far smaller the US’s National Endowment for Democracy (and its related institutions NDI, IRI and the Solidarity Centre) or a number of the Government supported German Stiftung (such as the Konrad Adenauer or Friedrich Ebert Foundations).


As set out above, the UK needs to find new forums to engage with European partners and the Alliance for Multilateralism, a Franco-German led initiative, discussed in Thorsten Benner’s essay, could provide a flexible platform to do that, particularly in the context of flexibility being a core objective of the UK’s emerging approach and the strong track record of notably Anglo-German cooperation at the UN, as noted in Gowan’s contribution.[32] The UK has so far participated in this forum at official and junior Ministerial Level but involving the Secretary of State in future would boost British presence and profile in these forums.


As touched on in earlier publications in this series, the UK is also looking to build on its close historic and cultural ties with Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Recent partnership working has been most pronounced with Canada, through initiatives such as the jointly chaired Media Freedom Coalition and joint statements on Nagorno-Karabakh and Hong-Kong (where they were joined by Australia).[33] As Shull and Wark point out the UK and Canada “have a number of comparable interests in the conduct of global affairs […] both benefit from a stable rules-based global order and from certainty within international institutions” and, perhaps something that still needs internalising for some British commentators, “both Canada and the UK are too small to throw their weight around, like China and the United States.” There may well be scope to further expand collaboration within an informal ‘CANZUK’ grouping given the range of shared interests and values but this will not fully overcome the realities of geography that shape differing regional economic and security priorities for each partner. The UK may see its links to Australia and New Zealand as a springboard into the Pacific but more thought needs to go into identifying what either country would get out of such an approach. Proposals to turn such CANZUK cooperation into a formal alliance (of any great depth) should be treated with some scepticism given these differing priorities, pre-existing regional ties and primary economic relationships. The UK needs to ensure it is proactively engaging with these countries on the basis of mutually agreed current priorities rather than assumptions about a shared past.[34]



[1] There is sometimes a tendency to conflate the desire to maintain the balance of power in Continental Europe during Britain’s rise to control a Global Empire with isolationism, Prof Jamie Shea notes the continued presence of the UK in continental affairs in the 18th and 19th Centuries as part of the evolving web of alliances. Following the Norman Conquest the English Crown was tied to the continent through feudal holdings, expansionist ambitions and participation in the Crusades, its level of engagement often shaped by its population size and state of the public finances before the politics of religion created fissures during the reformation. Perhaps the UK’s historical focus on the Elizabethan-era and Battle of Britain colours perspectives somewhat but even at these times the UK was still working with allies to achieve its goals.

[2] The principles for Global Britain, FPC, September 2020,

[3] Department for Exiting the European Union, Foreign policy, defence and development – a future partnership paper, Government, September 2017,

[4] European Commission, The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, January 2020,

[5] The UK would have to think creatively about what that might look like given that it would not be appropriate for EU representatives to sit in on existing ministerial level meetings. A recent paper by Ian Bond of CER provides a more substantial analysis of the range of different cooperation models open to the UK and EU. See: Ian Bond, Post-Brexit foreign, security and defence co-operation: we don’t want to talk about it, CER, November 2020,

[6] List of delegations by type, Delegations European Parliament, For an overview of the formal status of the different types of EP delegations see here: Outside the EU, EPP Group within interparliamentary delegations, EPP Group,; European Parliament Liaison Office in the United Kingdom,

[7] Delegations to Parliamentary Assemblies, UK Parliament,

[8] Register of All-Party Parliamentary Groups [as at 4 November 2020],,

[9] There is also the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly, which is clerked by officials from the British Parliament and the Irish Oireachtas which has a formal standing under the Good Friday Agreement since 1998. See: Secretariat, British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly,

[10] On a related note this paper provides a good blue print for new institutional objectives: George Robertson, Michael Fallon, Catherine Ashton, Peter Ricketts, Menzies Campbell and Benedict Wilkinson, The future strategic direction of NATO, The Policy Institute and King’s College London, July 2020,

[11] Michael Cross, Buckland unveils Human Rights Act review, The Law Society Gazette, December 2020,

[12] Institutionally blind? International organisations and human rights abuses in the former Soviet Union, FPC, February 2016,

[13] As set out in previous FPC publications, including Institutionally Blind, authoritarian regimes are increasingly trying to use handpicked observers and Potemkin observation missions to try and provide external validation of their rigged elections, something that shamefully some Western Parliamentarians have participated in. This makes protecting independent and objective observation missions ever more vital at a time of limited institutional resources.

[14] Charter of the Commonwealth, Signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Day 2013,

[15] Member States’ Assessed Share of the UN Budget, Assessment of Member States’ Contribution to the UN Regular Budget, GPF,

[16] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK elected to UN Human Rights Council for the term 2021-23,, October 2020,; Membership of the Human Rights Council, 1 January – 31 December 2019 by regional groups, United Nations Human Rights Council, OHCHR,

[17] The UK currently has one representative on treaty bodies, xx Malcolm Evans, and one Special Rapporteur Ms. Rhona SMITH for Cambodia, with Sorcha MACLEOD, a member of a working group. See:  Thematic Mandates, OHCHR,

[18] Cristina Gallardo, Not a single UK constituency would vote for Donald Trump: Poll, Politico, November 2020,

[19] British-American Parliamentary Group, Organisation,

[20] The G20 has increasingly taken over the G7’s former role in providing leadership on Global issues.

[21] D-10 Strategy Forum, Atlantic Council, The first D-10 Strategy Forum was hosted by the Canadian Foreign Ministry in partnership with CIGI and GMFUS in 2014. See: CIGI, Transatlantic Academy and GMF, D-10 Strategy Forum Meeting Report, CIGI, July 2014,

[22] Such as: Ash Jain and Matthew Kroenig, Present at the re-creation: A global strategy for revitalizing, adapting, and defending a rules-based international system, Atlantic Council, October 2019,

[23] Patrick Wintour, Five Eyes alliance could expand in scope to counteract China, The Guardian, July 2020,

[24] Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, The Diplomant,

[25] Narendra Modi threatens to turn India into a one-party state, The Economist, November 2020,

[26] The EU is already included in the G7 format and needs to play an active part but any plans for full membership could not feasibly work if unanimity under the Common Foreign and Security Policy was required to agree to communiques and other agreements through the forum.

[27] The Community’s breadth is both a strength (in terms of potential reach that can help those on genuinely democratic transitions) and a weakness given that Governing Council includes countries such as Morocco and Mali (in the wake of its coup) that are not democracies as well as countries such as Hungary and Poland that can no longer be classed as Liberal Democracies. See: Community of Democracies, Governing Council,

[28] Economic and geopolitical insight guiding the world’s organisations, The Economist Intelligence Unit,

[29] The Group of 77 at the United Nations, Latest Statements and Speeches,

[30] Including the editor above and in previous ‘Finding Britain’s role in a changing world’ series: The principles for Global Britain, FPC, September 2020,; Protecting the UK’s ability to defend its values, FPC, September 2020,; and Projecting the UK’s values abroad, FPC, December 2020,

[31] The WFD is an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Its funding for the most recent financial year, 2019-20, was £16.2m, over double its position in 2015-16. See: Funding and Accounts, WFD,

[32] Alliance for Multilateralism,

[33] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and The Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Nagorno-Karabakh: UK and Canada joint statement in response to continued military clashes,, October 2020,,and%20Azerbaijan%20in%20Nagorno%2DKarabakh.&text=Canada%20and%20the%20United%20Kingdom,the%20Nagorno%2DKarabakh%20conflict%20zone; Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP Joint Statement from the UK, Australia and Canada on Hong Kong,, May 2020,

[34] Andrew Roberts, It’s Time to Revive the Anglosphere, WSJ, August 2020,; Comments to – Peter Geoghegan, Adventures in ‘Canzuk’: why Brexiters are pinning their hopes on imperial nostalgia, The Guardian, September 2020,

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