Whoever governs, Britain’s Africa policy is tied to the UN and the EU

Dr Marie Gibert

Dr Marie Gibert

The hallmark of Britain’s policy towards Africa is continuity, writes Dr Marie Gibert.

Under the coalition, Africa has not taken the morality flavoured prominence it had in Labour’s foreign policy, but the core of the relationship has nonetheless been upheld.

Of course, Britain’s colonial past in Africa still weighs heavy, especially with regard to countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Somalia. But Britain is also tied to Africa by its permanent seat and veto power on the UN Security Council.

The Security Council spends a lot of time on Africa, where some of the UN’s largest and most costly peacekeeping operations are deployed. Since no future UK government would want to give up this privileged position, Africa is destined to be a permanent fixture on Britain’s multilateral agenda. Continue reading

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of international development in the election campaign

Since the publication of the party manifestos over the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard a lot about the key differences in terms of economic, health and immigration policy, among others, writes Dr Sagarika Dutt.

But we haven’t heard very much about international development. The importance of this as an election issue should not be underestimated. The United Nations will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this year, building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals centred on poverty, health, education and the environment and were, to a large extent, shaped by the UN Conferences of the 1990s. The British government and civil society, including international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), have always claimed that they are committed to achieving these goals. But this cannot be taken for granted. The election manifestos provide clarity on the international developmental goals of the various political parties, and how much money they are willing to spend to achieve them. Unless a firm commitment is made by the political parties in their manifestos and voters are able to hold them to their promises, some of these policies may never be implemented. The good news is that there are now half a billion fewer people living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day, partly as a result of economic advances in the developing world, particularly in Asia. Continue reading