2Securing Peace -Preventing conflict and building peace: the UK’s role in a changing world
Since 2007, the NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG)
has sought to engagegovernment officials, academics, members of think tanks and NGOs in discussions that look beyond the government’s headline policies onpromoting peace and delivering security. Theroundtable meetings posed the questions:
• How do these policies work in practice?• Taken as a whole, how do they contribute to a consistent approachtowards building peace and preventingconflict?
The meetings aimed to strengthen the UKgovernment’s conflict prevention andpeacebuilding capacity by facilitating a moreconsistent approach to the formulation andimplementation of policies which promotepeace and security. These discussions, whichtook place over the course of two years, reflectthe way foreign and security policy hasdeveloped and the changes in the politicalclimate since the series began in autumn 2007.
In that time, many steps forward have beentaken and considerable efforts have been madein key departments to create better structuresand strategies.When this series began in September 2007,the Comprehensive Spending Review wasabout to be launched, including Public ServiceAgreement (PSA) 30 (Reduce the impact of conflict through enhanced UK andinternational efforts), an ambitious effort tomove conflict prevention and peacebuildingtoward the centre of policy. Key policy developments in 2008 included the publicationof the first National Security Strategy (NSS)and the FCO’s revised strategy, in which ‘toprevent and resolve conflict’ was one of fourstrategic policy goals.
Other major events – in particular theelection of President Obama in November2008 and the economic crisis of 2008-09 –have created a further shift in perspectives.These filtered into the last few roundtablediscussions, which reflected renewed hope inthe field of international policy, but alsoconcerns about the longer term implicationsof increasingly scarce public resources.Since the series of meetings was completedin June 2009, the NSS has been updated andDfID has launched a new white paper.
Bothof these documents reflect concerns aboutglobal economic turmoil, increasingmarginalisation of the world’s poorestcommunities, and the need to focus on fragileand failing states. The government has alsopublished its Roadmap to 2010 – the NPTRevCon
reflecting the marked changes in theclimate of opinion on disarmamentinternationally, as well as in the UK sinceMargaret Beckett’s June 2007 speech asForeign Secretary at the Carnegie Endowmentin Washington DC.
Notes and References
1 The NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group (PSLG)
brings togetherNGOs engaged in peace and security issues. See the box on page 8 for moredetails, including a list of member organisations.
For a summary of changes in foreign policy and the structures that supportit, see for example,
British Foreign Policy Since 1997,
House of Commonsresearch paper 08/56, 23 June 2008.
The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom:Security in an interdependent world,
Cm 7291, March 2008; FCO,
Better World Better Britain,
National Security Strategy of the UK Update 2009: Security for the next generation,
June 2009; DfID,
Eliminating World Poverty:Building our Common Future,
Cm 7656, July 2009.
The Road to 2010: Addressing the nuclear question in thetwenty first century,
US army soldiers question an Iraqi woman in Mosul 2008Photo: U.S. Army / Pfc. Sarah De Boise
Theelection of President Obama in November 2008and theeconomic crisisof 2008-09 havecreated a shift in perspectives.