A radically changed international landscape is taking shape, posing new issues of global stability and power configurations, and presenting new challenges and opportunities for British foreign policy. The response of the Government to these trends will dictate how the UK fares in this era of new international relations.
The context is one in which digital technologies and new networks have already had a major impact on geopolitics. Emerging global powers are increasingly asserting themselves, while those previously dominating international affairs are reconsidering their global roles; new global power centres have emerged; non-state actors are taking on an ever more significant role; and the multilateral institutions of the post-War period are often struggling to be effective.
Within this broad canvas the House of Lords International Relations Committee is launching an inquiry focussing on the impact of these immense changes on the shape and conduct of Britain’s overseas and international policies, alliances and objectives, and the way in which Britain’s capabilities, organisation and its balance of soft, hard and smart power deployments now require re-ordering in the new international context.
Our inquiry’s concern will be predominantly with UK relations beyond immediate Brexit issues, beyond changes in UK relations with the EU, and outside the European region.
1.How should the UK develop its portfolio of engagements with global institutions and networks, both new and existing, such as the EU (which it is leaving), the modern Commonwealth, the Pacific Alliance and the new power centres and associations of Asia?
2.What impact have digital technologies and the on-going communications revolution had on global affairs, both economic and political?
(a)To what extent have they changed how nation states, non-state actors and networks of people interact with one another?
(b)What new directions and opportunities for UK in particular do they present?
(c)How should the UK’s international policies and policy instruments adapt to the new conditions?
(d)To what extent have they affected international legal structures, multilateral organisations and notions of national sovereignty?
3.What effect have digital technologies had on the practice of diplomacy? Do we have the diplomatic resource of the right kind and weight to meet the demands of a world of intricate and extensive networks?
4.Are there organisational changes required to ensure Government, its institutions and agencies are able to respond to these challenges and opportunities?
5.In the changing global context, and with a new fluidity in international affairs, who ought to be the UK’s closest bilateral partners?
6.How should the UK’s relationship with the US be adapted and refreshed to take into account the present US Administration’s
(a)reduced predictability and its apparent retreat from its post-War global role?
(b)its emphasis on putting US interests, narrowly defined, as an overriding priority?
7.How should UK foreign policy adapt to the rise of China as a global power, particularly in the light of President Xi’s ambitions for a new era in Chinese influence and China’s extensive “one belt, one road” initiative?
8.What challenges, now and in the longer term, does Russia present for the UK’s foreign policy in both the cyber and conventional spheres?
9.How should the UK re-position itself in relation to emerging powers such as India and Brazil, or others in Latin America, Asia and Africa?
10.To what extent does the Government have the skills and capability to build and maintain the bilateral relationships necessary for the UK to thrive in the changed global context?
11.What challenges arise from the changing global context to the multilateral institutions that underpin the international rules-based order? What should the UK’s role be in responding to those challenges?