Home News Experts demand public’s involvement in Government’s new UK security policy

Experts demand public’s involvement in Government’s new UK security policy

by Brian Sims

Rethinking Security, the network of peace and security experts, has called on the Government to adopt what it terms “an inclusive approach” towards reviewing and renewing the UK’s security policy. Welcoming the announcement of the Conservative Government’s Integrated Review of UK foreign policy, defence, security and international development, the organisation has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to listen to the views of peace practitioners, the victims of global conflict and ordinary British citizens.

The Prime Minister has committed to hold what is the largest review of the UK’s foreign, defence, security and development policy since the cessation of the Cold War. The Integrated Review will cover all aspects of the UK’s place in the world, from the role of the diplomatic service and approaches to development through to the capabilities of the Armed Forces and the security agencies.

The Integrated Review will be policy-led and go beyond the parameters of a traditional review by considering the totality of global opportunities and challenges the UK faces and determining how the whole of Government can be structured, equipped and mobilised to meet them.

It will look at areas such as the procurement process used by the Armed Forces and other security services, ways in which to tackle serious and organised crime more cohesively by building on the work of the Mackey Review and how the nation can better use technology and data to adjust to the changing nature of current threats, from countering hostile state activity to strengthening the Armed Forces. All of this Integrated Review work will be undertaken with the aim of creating a more coherent and strategic approach towards the UK’s overseas activity.

Expertise from within and without

The Government will use expertise from both inside and outside Government for the purposes of the Integrated Review, thereby ensuring that the UK’s best foreign policy minds are feeding into the conclusions and offering constructive challenge to traditional Whitehall assumptions and thinking.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

According to the Conservative Party, the UK’s departure from the European Union presents new opportunities to define and strengthen Britain’s place in the world at a time when the global landscape is changing dramatically. Worldwide demand for imports is growing as the UK establishes an independent trade policy for the first time in decades. Rapid technological changes are redefining the way in which the UK interacts with other nations and tackles pressing issues like climate change. Indeed, countries all over the world are now challenging traditional international structures and alliances.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I’m determined to lead a Government that delivers for our people, both at home and abroad. The UK’s institutions, expertise, leadership and values are renowned around the world, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more to adapt. We will be judged by how we respond to the opportunities ahead. As the world changes, so we must move with it by harnessing new technologies and ways of thinking to ensure British foreign policy is rooted firmly in our national interests, now and into the decades ahead.”

Remit of the Integrated Review

The remit of the Integrated Review is to:

*define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for national security and foreign policy

*set out the way in which the UK will be a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation, examining how the nation works more effectively with its allies

*determine the capabilities the UK needs for the next decade and beyond to pursue its objectives and address the risks and threats now faced

*identify the necessary reforms to Government systems and structures to achieve these goals

The Integrated Review will report to the Prime Minister, who will be supported by a cross-Whitehall team in the Cabinet Office and a small team in Downing Street comprised of experts from inside and outside the civil service. Departments across Whitehall will input, including the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for International Development, the Home Office, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Decisions on the review process will be made by the National Security Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.

The Integrated Review will run in parallel to the Comprehensive Spending Review, ensuring departments are equipped with the resources they need to enact the review’s conclusions.

The main bulk of the Integrated Review is expected to conclude in line with the Comprehensive Spending Review later this year, although implementation of its recommendations will be a multi-year project.

Defining what security means

The experts from Rethinking Security have warned the Government not to miss the opportunity to define what security means, including an honest assessment of whose security is being deliberated upon and how progress can actually be measured.

Rethinking Security’s co-ordinator Richard Reeve told Risk Xtra: “Past security strategies have always privileged elite interests over the basic needs of individuals. The last National Security Strategy was more concerned with projecting military power and promoting business opportunities than protecting and nurturing people. Putting the well-being of people at home and abroad at the centre of the UK’s approach to security is crucial.”

Reeve continued: “Developing a co-ordinated approach to security across Government is essential, of course, but so is understanding the impact of UK policies and actions across society, at home and abroad. The Integrated Review must actively seek the input of those working for peace and development, not just defence and deterrence. It’s an opportunity to reset the UK’s principles and its commitment to the security of people everywhere.”

Rethinking Security’s member organisations include the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, Conciliation Resources, Forces Watch, International Alert, the Movement for the Abolition of War, the Oxford Research Group, Peace Direct, Quaker Peace And Social Witness, the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network, Saferworld, Scientists for Global Responsibility, United Nations Association (UK) and War on Want.

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