International Relations

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David Curran

This chapter explores United Kingdom (UK) engagement with United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations on the African continent since 2010. It takes a chronological approach, and argues that while it is difficult to identify a single overarching policy towards UN operations on the African continent, there are identifiable trends which have influenced how policymakers have treated the topic. First, there are varying degrees of scepticism as to the motivations, politics and practicalities of UN missions. Secondly, the UK’s interactions with Africa-based peacekeeping operations have generally been undertaken on a political level, be it in the chamber of the UN Security Council, through the UN Secretariat or through financial and bilateral contributions. At a time when the UK is re-engaging with UN peacekeeping on the African continent, the chapter reflects on where UK policy has come from and where it may go in the future.

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The UK and Africa relations

Construction of the African Union’s peace and security structures

Kasaija Phillip Apuuli

The chapter discusses the role of the UK in supporting African Union (AU) peace and security structures, particularly the AU’s Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), since 2010. It argues that UK Governments – especially that led by Tony Blair (1997–2007) – gave Africa policy a high profile characterised inter alia by a desire to build the capacity of African states and institutions. Nevertheless, the chapter also notes that since the year 2010, when the Labour Party lost power, tensions, contradictions and ambiguities in the UK–AU/APSA relationship have emerged, partly exacerbated by the continued illegal immigration of Africans to Europe, and the UK intervention in Libya in 2011 in total disregard of African views on the matter.

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The securitisation of UK aid and DFID programmes in Africa

A comparative case study of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda

Ivica Petrikova and Melita Lazell

This chapter explores the securitisation of UK development aid from the pre-2010 Labour Government to the post-2010 Conservative-led Government. It does so by examining official policy discourse in Department for International Development (DFID) aid programming in five sub-Saharan African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It finds that, in line with the development discourse, aid securitisation as conceptualised here progressed in the five case-study countries gradually between 2002 and 2015. The most notable change from Labour to the Coalition Government in this regard was the higher preference to channel ‘securitised’ aid to countries of more strategic importance to the UK. A closer look at three examples of ‘securitised’ aid projects implemented by Conservative-led DFID unfortunately demonstrates that such projects are not likely to contribute to one of the key aims of securitised aid provision: the sustainable reduction of conflict and instability in the recipient countries.

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Rehabilitating the ‘nasty party’?

The Conservative Party and Africa from opposition to government

Danielle Beswick

Under David Cameron’s leadership from 2005 the Conservative Party embarked upon a campaign to rebrand the Party in the minds of voters. In the arena of international policy, a commitment to meet development spending targets and to maintain a separate Department for International Development marked significant shifts in Conservative approaches. Despite this, there is little analysis of the role of international development in rebranding, repositioning and redefining the Party. Even less attention has been paid to the particular role that Africa plays in these processes, in sharp contrast to extensive research on Africa’s role in relation to the self-identification and projected images of Labour Governments and leaders. This chapter begins to fill this gap. It analyses party documents, speeches by members of Cameron’s inner circle, and commentaries by Conservative media and the wider UK press to explore how Africa has featured in a narrative of change in relation to Conservative Party identity. In doing so it considers the role of Africa in defining a new Conservative identity as projected at three levels: within the Party, to potential voters and on an international stage.

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Graham Harrison

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.

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Labour, international development and Africa

Policy rethinking in opposition

William Brown

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.

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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).

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Danielle Beswick, Niheer Dasandi, David Hudson and Jennifer vanHeerde-Hudson

This chapter examines how the images and representations used in fundraising appeals by international development non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have shaped UK public attitudes towards Africa, Africans and UK–Africa relations. Despite efforts at change, many charity appeals make widespread use of shocking images of African children, devoid of any broader context, in order to induce the viewer to donate. In doing so, they have helped produce a narrative around UK–Africa relations in which the UK public is cast as the ‘powerful giver’ and Africans are portrayed as ‘grateful receivers’. NGOs face a dilemma: negative representations allow organisations to raise funds that enable them to support vulnerable people in Africa and around the world; but they also negatively influence and shape attitudes of the British public towards poverty in Africa more generally. Through an analysis of a recent Oxfam campaign and reporting on new research using survey experiments, the chapter shows that by appealing to more positive emotions, such as hope and solidarity, NGOs can both raise funds for development work, and help to change the narrative around UK–Africa relations.

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Alex Vines

This chapter reviews UK–Africa engagement since the late 1990s and assesses its drivers, successes and limitations. It looks at the implications of these factors for future policy, especially post-Brexit, and assesses how Africa will fit into emerging UK foreign policy in this new domestic and international policy environment. The chapter draws on policy discussions, fieldwork, and policy and academic publications on UK–Africa relations. It also benefits from ongoing research and engagement on UK Africa policy conducted at Chatham House. The author, Dr Alex Vines, has been Head of Chatham House’s Africa Programme since 2002.

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Aspects of continuity and change after New Labour

Danielle Beswick, Jonathan Fisher and Stephen R. Hurt

This chapter reviews and summarises the main findings of the collection and their implications for scholarship and policy. The chapter highlights some critical changes in emphasis in UK Africa policy since 2010, including divergences in emphasis and policy around trade across the three main UK political parties and a growing fracture in the 1997–2010 political consensus around UK development policy. In these cases, as with wider UK Africa policy, Brexit has represented a critical point of reference. The chapter also explores continuities in UK Africa policy since 1997 (and before), particularly in the realm of security and wider UK–Africa diplomacy. The chapter concludes by exploring the implications of the collection’s findings for understanding broader power dynamics in the UK–Africa relationship and for future policy itself.