UK Government needs a long-term Commonwealth strategy, says Committee

05 April 2018

The Foreign Affairs Committee publishes a report, Global Britain and the 2018 Commonwealth Summit, seeking clarity from Government about its long-term vision for the UK's relationship with the Commonwealth.

UK hosts biennial gathering of Commonwealth Heads of Government

For the first time in more than 20 years, the UK will host the biennial gathering of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. The Commonwealth Summit, a once-in-a-generation event, takes place in London between 16 and 20 April, 2018.

As the UK assumes the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, the Foreign Affairs Committee says it is imperative the Government sets out with clear aims of what it wants to achieve by the end of the UK's tenure in 2020.

Committee calls on FCO to produce statement of priorities

Within the next three months, the Committee calls on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to produce a statement of priorities, objectives and metrics for success for the UK's tenure as Chair-in-Office which:

  • Clarifies what the 52 other members of the Commonwealth can expect from 'Global Britain';
  • Sets out how the FCO will lead the cross-Government relationship with the Commonwealth and how the work of other departments will feed into this strategy;
  • Explains how the FCO will build a Commonwealth caucus in the UN;
  • Outlines what assessments it has made of resources needed beyond 2020 to achieve the Government’s stated goal of rejuvenating the Commonwealth.

The Committee also calls on the FCO to consider creating a new forum to facilitate cross-Commonwealth dialogue around human rights, the rule of law and critical issues such as cyber security, data protection and online privacy.

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, commented:

"This is the first time since 1997 that the UK has hosted the Commonwealth Summit and it is a great opportunity for Britain to reset the agenda of one of our most important networks.

"As the UK assumes the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, we will be in a unique position of leadership and influence within the organisation. If the FCO is to make a success of its ‘Global Britain’ strategy, it has to show leadership; nowhere is this more important than within the Commonwealth. The UK helped to shape this organisation but it has neglected it in recent years. For too long, successive governments have talked about putting the 'C' back in Foreign and Commonwealth Office without investing the resources or energy to deliver. That has to change.

"The FCO must put in place a credible and distinct Commonwealth strategy, which proves to our Commonwealth partners what the organisation means to the UK in the long-term."

Further information

Image: CPA UK

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