In UK, Development Key to Promoting National Security

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo by: U.K. Home Office / CC BY U.K. Home OfficeCC BY

The U.K. government’s new national security strategy goes beyond military efforts to counter threats of instability. It also recognizes the contribution of British development projects in promoting national security.

Adopting a “whole of government” approach, the strategy states that the British government “will tackle the causes of instability overseas in order to prevent risks from manifesting themselves in the UK, while being prepared to deal with them if they occur.”

“We will use all the instruments of national power to prevent conflict and avert threats beyond our shores: our Embassies and High Commissions worldwide, our international development programme, our intelligence services, our defence diplomacy and our cultural assets,” according to the strategy, which is due to be unveiled today (Oct. 19) by U.K. Prime Minister Cameron.

The strategy espouses two complementary strategic objectives - ensuring domestic resilience and shaping a stable world.

To achieve the second objective, the U.K. will use all its “instruments of power and influence” to tackle potential risks overseas including promoting development cooperation.

“[W]e will build alliances that make hostile acts against us more risky to their perpetrators … we will promote development and combat poverty to reduce the causes of potential hostility. In many cases, we aim to tackle problems at root overseas, to reduce the likelihood of risks turning into actual attacks on us at home,” according to the strategy.  

Apart from terrorism, international military crisis and other hostile attacks, the strategy names natural disasters and pandemics as potential threats to U.K.’s national security.

More UK Aid for Conflict-ravaged Nations

The U.K. will double its development aid for conflict-afflicted countries, Cameron is set to announce today as he unveils the new security strategy.

The announcement will put aid at the heart of the U.K.’s efforts to tackle national security threats, the Financial Times has noted.

Meanwhile, a leading non-governmental organization in the the U.K. has warned that such move would put more humanitarian aid workers at risk.

The defense and security review findings that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is set to discuss are expected to focus on the government’s plans to reconfigure its armed forces in a more strategic sense.

“However, the overhaul of the department for international development’s (DfID) £5.3bn [USD8.4 billion] budget will also be one of the key announcements,” the Financial Times reports. “Mr Cameron will say Britain currently spends £2bn relieving poverty in nations plagued by conflict, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. This will be doubled to £4bn by 2015.”

Oxfam GB has criticized the U.K. government’s plan, saying it could spell heightened security risks for humanitarian aid workers, the Independent reports.

Barbara Stocking, head of the organization, explained that increased integration between defense, aid and the Foreign Office could cause even more security problems.

“There’s one thing about having a coherent policy in Whitehall, which we would absolutely agree with,” Stocking said as quoted by the Independent. “Delivering it on the ground in a way that looks like it really is the British Government’s drive really does put people like us at risk.”

Rizza Leonzon contributed to this report.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes 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.