In New Overseas Stability Strategy, UK Eyes Rapid Response to Conflict

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hauge. Photo by: U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office / CC BY-ND

The United Kingdom is set to establish a 20 million pounds ($32.25 million) rapid response system and integrate diplomacy into its overseas development and defense efforts as part of its new strategy for mitigating and resolving conflict in countries and regions where British interest is at stake.

The Building Stability Overseas Strategy, or BSOS, pools together the expertise of the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defense and Department for International Development. It builds on the national security strategy, which adopts a whole-of-government approach that taps development projects to promote U.K. national security.

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague also noted that the overseas stability strategy is timely, considering the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

“This strategy seeks to address the lessons we have learned from recent events and marks the first time that the government has put in place an integrated cross-government strategy to address conflict issues,” Hauge said Tuesday.

U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell added that the strategy “goes to the heart of the drive to achieve better targeted, more effective aid.”

The strategy, which was unveiled July 19 by FCO, has three pillars: early warning, rapid crisis response and prevention, and upstream crisis prevention.

An early warning system will be created to identify areas where the risks of instability and conflict are highly. The system will look at political, security and economic shocks that may trigger conflict in these areas, the strategy document states.

A team of DfiD, FCO and Defense officials will analyze the early warnings to determine which ones merit a response and determine an action plan as necessary.

Meantime, the 20 million pounds Early Action Facility, or EAF, is expected to give the United Kingdom more financial flexibility to respond to conflict warnings faster and easier. The system will be within the United Kingdom’s so-called conflict pool, which includes funding for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and stabilization activities. The conflict pool is expected to receive 309 million pounds for the 2014-2015 period, according to the Guardian.

“The EAF will help us move more swiftly in response to warnings and opportunities, for example to fund quick assessments to lay the groundwork for more significant support and help to leverage work by others,” the strategy document says.

Upstream prevention refers to addressing the triggers of instability before it becomes full-blown conflict, FCO explained. To do this, the United Kingdom said it will introduce a “cross-government strategic conflict assessment” that would “identify the situation-specific interventions that will be most likely to succeed in helping to prevent conflict and build stability” in fragile states.

The assessment will include political, economic, security and social analyses and consider human rights abuses, among other issues.

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>> In UK, Development Key to Promoting National Security

>> Andrew Mitchell: UK Aid Funding to Focus on ‘Value for Money’

>> UK to Increase Aid for Fragile, Conflict Countries

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.