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Partnerships for the future of UK Foreign Policy

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After a prolonged period of introspection and tensions with longstanding partners, this new publication sets out the many different ways in which a ‘Global Britain’ can reinvigorate its relationships with allies, alliances and institutions.

This essay collection has been edited by Foreign Policy Centre Director Adam Hug. It contains essay contributions from: Rosa Balfour (Director of Carnegie Europe); Professor Jamie Shea (Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter); Dr Alice Donald (Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University) and Professor Philip Leach (Professor at Middlesex University); Anna Chernova (FPC Research Fellow); Sanjoy Hazarika (International Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative [CHRI]) and Sneh Aurora (Director of CHRI UK); Richard Gowan (UN Director for the International Crisis Group); Enyseh Teimory (Communications Officer at the UNA-UK); Thorsten Benner (Director of the Global Public Policy Institute); Aaron Shull (Managing Director for the Centre for International Governance Innovation [CIGI]) and Wesley Wark (Senior Fellow at CIGI); and Thomas E. Garrett (Secretary General of the Community of Democracies).

The UK can show that it is willing to do the hard work to retain and build alliances with like-minded countries to make regional and global systems work in both the national and international interest. In order to build trust the UK should demonstrate that it still believes in the intrinsic value of international cooperation as more than simply an instrumental tool in its foreign policy kit because as an internationally focused middle power the UK benefits enormously from promoting wider global acceptance of international institutions and established norms.

Irrespective of the UK’s Asia-Pacific aspirations, the UK’s security priorities are still overwhelmingly focused on Europe and so the UK needs to find a new way of working with the EU once the current sound and fury has subsided. This can start at an operational level where UK Embassies and EU Delegations can re-establish cooperation and information sharing on the ground in third countries and international institutions. In the future it may be possible to revisit issues such as formal foreign policy and security cooperation, as part of a future EU-UK Partnership and Cooperation Agreement or Strategic Partnership. Irrespective of the state of UK-EU relations Britain will need to redouble its efforts in the other European focused forums such as NATO, the OSCE and Council of Europe, with an emphasis on supporting the work these institutions do to promote democratic values.

Globally the UK must build on its strong position at the UN and take full advantage of its leadership of both the COP and G7 in 2021 to set out an ambitious agenda for the UK’s future foreign policy. It should seek to build on ideas around a ‘Democracies-10’ (D10), by promoting expanded G7 membership to include South Korea and Australia. It should find new ways to promote engagement with the democracies of the global south and support UK NGOs and institutions such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to play a bigger role in democracy promotion. The UK will need to work flexibly and creatively with longstanding partners in new formats such as the Alliance for Multilateralism, the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) coalition, as well continuing current efforts to build greater collaboration between the ‘CANZUK’ countries, though recognising the geographic and economic limitations to the scale of such ambitions.

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Articles in this publication

The UK and the Commonwealth: Leading the rights path

With the COVID-19 pandemic battering the world socially and economically, both the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the Secretary General of the United…

Article by Sanjoy Hazarika and Sneh Aurora

Brexit Britain at the United Nations

Following the 2016 Brexit referendum, successive governments have been keen to emphasise that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is not a rejection of international institutions and cooperation more broadly. Advocates…

Article by Richard Gowan

Another look at values-based multilateralism

Every few years, Western leaders raise the idea of democracies working in 'alliance' or 'concert' on global challenges. The late US Senator John McCain, an esteemed supporter of transatlantic cooperation,…

Article by Thomas E. Garrett
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