The key trends affecting UK international policy and national security up to 2030 have assumed a qualitatively new character,
due in part but by no means wholly to the current pandemic. This is acknowledged in the Call for Evidence of the Integrated
A On the one hand, the pandemic underlines the need for effective international cooperation, multilaterally and through
international organisations. This is a matter of self-interest as well as principle: for example, countries with less developed
health services will become virus seed-beds unless helped; provision of any vaccine should be made as widely as possible for
the same reason.
The need for effective international cooperation was already manifest because of the climate crisis. This has now almost
(perhaps already) reached a tipping point which can only be averted, or its effects reduced, by concerted action.
The dangers presented by nuclear weapons, whether by accidental use, escalation of conflict, or proliferation, have also
increased, as dramatised by the Doomsday Clock and conveyed in numerous warnings from respected international leaders.
B On the other hand, effective international cooperation on critical issues is being sharply reduced by nation-state
hostilities, and by the withdrawal from key agreements, or their undermining, by major powers. This is sufficiently obvious
not to require spelling out in detail.
C In view of the above, the UK needs to fundamentally re-assess its traditional priorities in foreign policy and defence.
This should be done on the basis that the UK's national survival depends upon restoring and strengthening international cooperation
in order to tackle the various threats that have come together in a perfect storm.
The new priorities should therefore be to
i actively seek common ground wherever possible with international actors even when we disagree profoundly on certain
issues (while we should continue to express such disagreement), and visibly work to reduce tensions between those actors who
are mutually hostile.
ii go beyond routine statements of support for the United Nations and its organisations to visibly work towards strengthening
its authority. A bold initiative here on Security Council reform would be material.
iii Similarly, go beyond routine commitment to eventual nuclear disarmament, and take decisive steps, eg in the area
of no-first-use, indicating that the UK will play a leading role in pushing this vital issue forward.
iv In pursuing the above goals, to seek support for one or more of them from other nations including those who may
not be our traditional allies. If the UK sets out a bold initiative for global cooperation, it will be well positioned to
invite support from other international actors in the wider world community.
Re-ordering UK priorities along these global lines will admittedly challenge many long-held assumptions about the priority
of national interests as traditionally defined. However at this critical moment in global history, a determined soft-power
initiative that strikes a new path will redound to the credit of the UK in a world depressed by multiple crises and bewildered
as to how to address them.