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Foreign Policy Foreign Policy

Support an international order in which rules govern state conduct

Last updated: 09:48pm 3 December 2019

The security and prosperity of the United Kingdom is built on the international institutions that we helped to found and will continue to help maintain: the United Nations and the UN Security Council, NATO – the cornerstone of our defence, the Commonwealth, the G20, G7 and the World Trade Organization. We will continue to give strong support to an international order in which rules govern state conduct; in our own behaviour we will support this system and apply it in a principled way.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.38

Our verdict

The modern international rules-based order is generally considered to have begun with the establishment of the United Nations following the end of the Second World War. The first purpose stated in Article 1 of the UN’s guiding Charter is, “To maintain international peace and security”. Since that time, many other institutions have developed to support a rules-based order, and this policy pledge is a promise that the UK will work with and through those institutions towards that first founding principle of the United Nations.

The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security (SDRS) outlines UK strategy in this area. It is part of a broader project called Global Britain, first announced by the government in 2017. The SDRS objectives include strengthening ties with allies, consolidating the partnership with the Five Eyes Community, and committing to international institutions.

The National Security Council (NSC) commissioned a focused National Security Capability Review in support of the SDRS. The annual progress report for 2018-19 includes evidence of:

  • Joint leadership on a number of foreign policy challenges.
  • Expanded sharing of information about terrorists with the Five Eyes Community.
  • Signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA),  guaranteeing security arrangements with the EU.
  • Increasing troops within the ISAF operation in Afghanistan.
  • Providing 600 officers across multiple UN missions.
  • Engagement in IMF and OECD agendas to encourage inclusivity and capital liberalisation.

According to the annual report, there is extensive evidence that the government is upholding its pledge to continue to support an international order in which rules govern state conduct. As a result, this policy is ‘done’.

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