Our world is one of worsening competition between countries. Deeper global interconnection, and the transformative impact of technological change, could offer unprecedented opportunities for nations to support one another. But international rivalry, a lack of consensus-building leadership, and a division of the world into competing visions and systems, seem set instead to make global challenges more abundant, more severe, and more difficult to resolve.
China and Russia have been adept at realising where their capacity for influence lies and harnessing the full spectrum of such capabilities. But the UK’s international policy has been adrift. It has lacked a clear strategic vision, lacked confidence, and lacked coherent implementation.
The UK has good reason to be confident in the capabilities of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to lead the coordination and implementation of ‘Britain abroad’. And contributors around the world call on the UK to step up, do more, and play a more impactful role. It can be a problem-solving nation and one that opens opportunities for others. It can serve the British people and also the global good, but that demands an integrated strategy and deliberate prioritisation.
We recommend that the Government:
(1)Does ‘tilt to the Indo-Pacific’, building off a strong partnership with Europe
(2)Deepens strategic coordination between the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the FCDO
(3)Deploys its mediation, conflict resolution, and atrocity prevention capabilities
(4)Publishes a coherent, resourced ‘soft power’ strategy bringing together the UK’s tools of influence, from law and education to training missions and trade
(5)Convenes and catalyses negotiations to reform multilateral organisations
(6)Acts with nimble coalitions of like-minded nations to counter threats and realise opportunities
(7)Delivers on its commitment to prioritise the existential issues of climate change and global health security
(8)Works with the world to agree regulations for frontier spheres such as cyberspace and outer space.
Published: 22 October 2020