The UK government published the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy on 14 March 2021. It was the product of over a year of work across government and of consultation with a wide range of external organisations and thinkers, including UNA-UK, and sets out the UK government’s vision for Global Britain.
It is a comprehensive review of the UK’s national security and international policy. It outlines three fundamental national interests that bind together the citizens of the UK: sovereignty, security and prosperity. It claims to review them in the light of what it calls UK values of democracy and a commitment to universal human rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and faith, and equality.
The Integrated Review sets out the government’s overarching national security and international policy objectives to 2025. These will inform future policy-making for all government departments. They will also inform future Spending Reviews, offering further opportunities to align resources with ambition over the long term.
- an emphasis on openness as a source of prosperity
- a more robust position on security and resilience
- a renewed commitment to the UK as a force for good in the world
- an increased determination to seek multilateral solutions to challenges like climate change
It also stresses the importance of deepening our relationships with allies and partners around the world, as well as moving more swiftly and with greater agility.
International Humanitarian Assistance
Despite the UK’s cut in humanitarian aid to Yemen by 73% two weeks earlier that will inevitably lead to more deaths, the Review claims that
UK will continue to play a leading international role in collective security, multilateral governance, tackling climate change and health risks, conflict resolution and poverty reduction. We accept the risk that comes with our commitment to global peace and stability, from our tripwire NATO presence in Estonia and Poland to on-the-ground support for UN peacekeeping and humanitarian relief.
The Review includes a commitment to increase the UK nuclear arsenal cap by over 40%:
The fundamental purpose of our nuclear weapons is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. A minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent, assigned to the defence of NATO, remains essential in order to guarantee our security and that of our Allies. In 2010 the Government stated an intent to reduce our overall nuclear warhead stockpile ceiling from not more than 225 to not more than 180 by the mid-2020s. However, in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats, this is no longer possible, and the UK will move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads.
Mary Robinson of the Elders called this “shocking and alarming”, writing that this would be “incompatible with the UK’s international obligations to pursue disarmament under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and risks contributing to a dangerous new nuclear arms race. It also risks undermining the NPT Review Conference due to take place in August this year. ” The UN Secretary-General said Britain was acting “contrary to its obligations under Article VI of the NPT” in a move which could have a “damaging impact on global stability and efforts to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons”.
So if spending on nuclear weapons is more important than humanitarian assistance and international development, what are the aims of the Integrated Review? It sets out four overarching objectives:
- Sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology, incorporating it as an integral element of national security and international policy to firmly establish the UK as a global S&T and responsible cyber power. This will be essential in gaining economic, political and security advantages.
- Shaping the open international order of the future, working with partners to reinvigorate the international institutions, laws and norms that enable open societies and economies such as the UK to flourish. This will help our citizens and others around the world realise the full benefits of democracy, free trade and international cooperation – not least in the future frontiers of cyberspace and space.
- Strengthening security and defence at home and overseas, working with allies and partners to help us to maximise the benefits of openness and protect our people, in the physical world and online, against a range of growing threats. These include state threats, radicalisation and terrorism, serious and organised crime, and weapons proliferation.
- Building resilience at home and overseas, improving our ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to risks ranging from extreme weather to cyber-attacks. This will also involve tackling risks at source – in particular climate change and biodiversity loss.
But apparently not the risk of dying from starvation.