UK Africa policy in the twenty-first century: business as usual?
Danielle Beswick, Jonathan Fisher and Stephen R. Hurt
This chapter introduces, and sets out the rationale for, the edited collection, which examines the extent to which UKAfrica policy has taken on a distinctive character since the end of the New Labour era (1997–2010). The central argument advanced is that there is a need for scholars to explore the connections between different domestic and international drivers of UK Africa policy if they are to better understand the relationships between Britain and Africa, as well as the successes and failures of efforts to influence policy in this area. The chapter outlines the main areas of focus for the collection, and reviews and synthesises existing literature on the UK–Africa relationship. The authors situate the collection within three areas of inquiry: change and continuity in UK interests in Africa (instrumentalisation), power dynamics within UK–Africa relationships (agency) and the place of Africa in domestic UK politics (identity).
Klaus Brummer, Sebastian Harnisch, Kai Oppermann and Diana Panke
The introductory chapter outlines the rationale behind the edited volume,
defines core concepts, introduces the analytical template along which the
individual chapters are structured, and provides brief summaries of the
individual chapters. Its point of departure is that foreign policy has in
many ways become more similar to (and intertwined with) “ordinary” public
policies. This is true for the actors involved in the policy-making process
as well as for the scope of domestic political contestation around
policy-making. Nonetheless, a divide still persists regarding the analysis
of policy-making processes and substantive policies in foreign affairs on
the one hand and virtually all other public policies on the other hand.
Against this background, this chapter argues that FPA has much to benefit
from more systematically taking on board scholarship in Public Policy. This
allows to broaden the conceptual toolbox for the analysis of state policies
toward external events and topics, and to capture the real-world shifts and
developments in the domestic and international environment of foreign
The chapter presents an empirically original account of the evolution of UK Labour Party international development policy, and Africa’s place within that, in the Party’s years of opposition from 2010–17. The chapter explores the significant processes of policy development which took place during these years and draws on archival research and interviews with key politicians. It argues that the Party has used the Sustainable Development Goals and a renewed focus on inequality to move policy beyond the Blair–Brown era. The chapter identifies constraints on this policy rethinking, including internal party politics and processes, rapid turnovers of shadow secretaries of state and an increasingly hostile external environment. Continuing tensions in policy remain to be resolved if Labour is to meet the challenge of developing an effective left-of-centre policy programme for Africa.
This chapter analyses the interactions between the Enough Food If campaign and the Conservative Governments. The chapter contextualises this interaction as a novel political interaction, between a Party historically disinterested in international development and a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which has mainly associated with the liberal left. Both sides effectively addressed their traditional distance by using the coalition to generate a certain kind of success story. For the NGOs this was a way of addressing a difficult political coalition post-Make Poverty History. For the Conservatives, their association with the campaign generated an image of justice-seeking and value-driven Conservatism in an age of tax evasion, austerity and poverty. The salient outcomes of this comity were that the campaign itself did not capture the public imagination nor generate a clear and demanding political agenda. Its successes were overwhelmingly Party and coalition-based, not policy or mobilisation-based.
Chapter 2, by Spyros Blavoukos, covers the multiple streams approach (MSA).
The core objective of this contribution is to examine how MSA fares in the
foreign policy realm and whether it is relevant and appropriate for the
study of foreign policy. Kingdon’s seminal work on public policy-making
conceptualizes public policy as the intersection of three different streams
(problem, policy, politics). Against this background, the theoretical
component of this chapter provides an overview of the approach and discusses
its transferability. The empirical thrust of the contribution derives from
the analysis of two major foreign policy shifts, namely the first ever
substantial Israeli–Palestinian agreement in the early 1990s that led to the
Oslo Accords and the Greek–Turkish rapprochement in the late 1990s, which
resulted in the substantial upgrading of the EU–Turkish relationship.
Chapter 7, by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing, introduces the Network
Approach. This chapter first defines the network concept, sets out the core
features of the network approach and explains how and why it has emerged as
an alternative lens for understanding policy-making in dispersed and
interactive settings that defy description in terms of the traditional
hierarchy–market dichotomy. It then compares different theories and methods
for understanding policy and governance networks and discusses how these
networks can be instrumental for enhancing knowledge sharing, improving
inter-organizational and cross-sector coordination, and solving wicked and
unruly problems in ways that both increase effectiveness and democratic
legitimacy. Subsequently, the chapter describes how and why the network
approach is applicable to foreign policy-making and assesses the scope
conditions and merits and limits of applying the approach. It argues that
the network approach is useful for analyzing how states formulate,
implement, and diffuse foreign policy in response to domestic interests and
global problems and events. Finally, the chapter provides a more extended
example of how the network approach is applicable to core concerns of
foreign policy. The example illustrates the role of networks in facilitating
political cooperation to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Chapter 6, by Siegfried Schieder, covers new institutionalism (NI). The
purpose of this chapter is to bridge the gap between the sub-discipline of
FPA and NI, providing new insights into how the former can benefit from the
various strands of the latter. To do so, this chapter examines NI as one of
the most prominent research program in the field of public policy analysis
and presents an overview of how NI in its rational, sociological,
historical, and discursive variants have been applied to research on FPA and
what their contribution is to this field. While FPA can be enriched by all
four forms of NI, much of the relevant literature employs either rational
institutionalism or a more sociological approach. To bring out the promise
of NI in FPA, the chapter then looks at how historical institutionalism may
be able to explain the United States’ decision to impose sanctions on Russia
in response to the Ukraine crisis in 2014.
Chapter 8, by Katja Biedenkopf and Alexander Mattelaer, covers policy
diffusion. It argues that the analytical lens of interdependent policy
decisions and mutual influence among foreign policy-makers can add a useful
angle to FPA. More specifically, the focus of this chapter is on policy
diffusion and transfer as independent variables in the analysis of foreign
policy choices. The chapter starts with outlining policy diffusion and
transfer as public policy approaches and then has a section that proposes
how these two concepts could enrich FPA. The fourth section illustrates the
application of a policy diffusion lens to foreign policy decisions, namely
the case of planning doctrine for military crisis response operations. It
explores the historical origins of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
operational planning doctrine and how it has diffused to other international
organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).
The concluding section provides some reflections on the contribution and
limitations of integrating policy diffusion and transfer into FPA.
Chapter 9, by Sebastian Harnisch, discusses the policy learning approach.
Learning is a change of beliefs or a development of new beliefs, skills, or
procedures as a result of the observation and interpretation of experience.
Policy learning has been long recognized as a central mechanism of change in
public policy and it has been employed in various research approaches, such
as advocacy coalition, theories of institutional change, policy diffusion,
and transfer or epistemic communities. Thus far, however, its broad
application has not resulted in any (substantial) additional analytical
purchase because respective sub-disciplines have not communicated with and
built upon each other. The chapter offers a systematic review of the extant
public policy literature and discusses the competitive application of
several learning approaches to the case of Soviet Union foreign policy
learning under Gorbachev. In lieu of a result, it identifies three areas of
common interest to Public Policy and FPA, i.e., the historicity and
cross-fertilization of domestic and foreign policy experience, the temporal
pattern of specific learning episodes and the variant patterns of sociality,
including international institutions as teachers/facilitators of learning,
for a future dialogue.
Chapter 3, by Jeroen Joly and Friederike Richter, discusses punctuated
equilibrium theory (PET). This theory, which was first proposed by
Baumgartner and Jones, explains how the same institutional set-up, usually
preventing new policy issues from gaining political attention, is also
responsible for the occasional outbursts of attention that cause
disproportionately large policy shifts. PET has been successfully applied to
a wide range of public policies and has increasingly generated
cross-sectional and cross-national analyses, which aim at understanding and
comparing the causes of stability and change in different political systems.
However, the focus of these studies has mostly been on domestic policies,
with only very little attention for PET in FPA. The aim of this chapter is
to show that PET is not only relevant in the realm of domestic politics, but
also useful for studying and understanding foreign policy-making. To
illustrate this claim, this chapter looks at yearly changes in attention to
foreign policy issues and examining the relationship between changes in
foreign aid allocations and the size of aid administrations.