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06 November 2015

Chatham House: Strengthening our voice in the global order

Chatham House has published a report by a group of leading foreign and security policy experts to consider how Britain’s voice can be strengthened.

This country is one of the most globally connected in the world. It needs an open, liberal international order and cannot afford to leave the running to others. The twin anchors of British postwar policy, the transatlantic relationship and a commitment to a strong EU, are both under strain. With this in mind, we recently convened a group of leading foreign and security policy experts to consider how Britain’s voice can be strengthened. This week we have published the group’s recommendations.

First, the government should avoid further cuts to the FCO’s budget in real terms in the upcoming spending review. With a long-term commitment to diplomatic effort equivalent to 0.2 per cent of gross domestic product, the UK’s international capabilities would be in much better balance.

Second, the UK should be a more vigorous supporter of multilateralism, pushing to reform key institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank and WHO. The UK should return to fuller participation in UN peacekeeping, and ensure a sufficient cohort of high-level British staff in international organisations, particularly the EU if we remain in.

Third, the government should ensure that domestic policy does not clash with its international goals. Visa policy currently presents too many barriers to commercially valuable talent. Unique elements of British soft power such as the BBC World Service and the British Council are under pressure.

British governments cannot talk about being a global player while at the same time cutting back on many of the institutions that sustain British influence abroad. This habit has not gone unnoticed by others. The UK needs to invest in the tools that enable it to make a difference and help lead the institutions that advance international order.

Sir John Holmes


The Ditchley Foundation

Dr Robin Niblett


Chatham House

Full article in Financial Times (subscription required)

© Chatham House

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