London, 23 November 2015
Today International Alert, Europe’s leading peacebuilding NGO, welcomed the UK Government’s commitment to tackling what Prime Minister David Cameron described as “the causes of the security threats we face, not just their consequences”, under the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The boost to funding for fragile- and conflict-affected situations to 50% of DFID’s budget, as announced in the Aid Review also released today, is a significant step towards realising this commitment to addressing the underlying drivers of conflict.
Alert is encouraged by the connection made in the security review between economic opportunity and peace, which is reflected in Alert’s own recent report Peace through prosperity. The focus on building accountable and effective institutions, and increasing transparency in poor countries is also welcome.
We are encouraged by the UK Government’s recognition of the importance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda as well as by its efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the World Bank in fragile countries – both issues on which Alert has worked extensively over the past years. The commitment to strengthening the peacebuilding capacity of the United Nations is equally welcome.
Phil Vernon, Director of Programmes at International Alert, commented: “While welcoming the Government’s commitment to tackling conflict, we also stress the importance for a more detailed framework on how the Government plans to implement this strategy – which will inform funding priorities, including the Conflict Security and Stability Fund, as well as joined-up plans between the MOD, FCO and DFID.”
Also, while more resources have been committed to tackling transnational threats, such as migration, terrorism and organised crime, the review does not detail how comprehensively these issues will be addressed. It is important to ensure a balanced approach between shorter-term security actions and longer-term solutions to conflict, and that in protecting British citizens, the Government also takes into account the need to safeguard people living in conflict-affected countries.
In seeking to tackle the drivers of conflict, it will be essential for the UK Government to continue working with civil society as well as investing in approaches that include citizens and communities, as well as state institutions.
Vernon continued: “Overall, we think this is a positive strategy that draws on lessons from the past, and recognises the importance of building a peace that is underpinned by society’s ability to manage its tensions peacefully”.
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