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UK's Department for International Development calls for radical reform of humanitarian system

The UK's Department for International Development has released a plan to reform its approach to humanitarian assistance. Entitled 'Saving lives, building resilience, reforming the system: the UK Government’s Humanitarian Reform Policy', it proposes three key changes:

  1. An increased focus on helping countries to prepare for humanitarian crises, build resilience, and on resolving conflicts, not just responding when disaster strikes;
  2. Bringing together humanitarian and development funding to support education, jobs, health, and social protection, as protracted crises continue for longer;
  3. Pushing for more radical reform of the international humanitarian system, to promote greater efficiency and more use of innovation, including working with the private sector on insurance and risk management.

The UK has strongly highlighted its willingness to lead international reform of humanitarian assistance, with Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel speaking at both the UN General Assembly and the Conservative party conference. In 2015, the UK’s humanitarian spending totaled £1.266 billion (US$1.94 billion), 16.5 % of its total Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Publication - DFID 

United Kingdom

UK appoints Matthew Rycroft as Permanent Secretary at DFID

The United Kingdom has announced Matthew Rycroft as Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development, taking effect January 2018. Currently the permanent representative to the United Nations, Rycroft has previously served as chief operating officer of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as private secretary to the prime minister for foreign affairs.

On the appointment, Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development, said: "Matthew's track record throughout his career, and his interest in international development, means that he brings to the role a global perspective and understanding".

Press release - Government of the UK

United Kingdom

UK increases assistance to Dominica following Hurricane Maria

The UK is providing an additional £5 million (US$7.7 million) to Dominica for immediate needs and humanitarian relief. This brings the total UK assistance to the islands affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma to £62 million (US$95 million). The British government is also doubling UK public donations made to the British Red Cross’ Irma and Maria appeals, a pledge which has so far raised over £2 million (US$3.1 million).

An additional US$19 million is being provided to Dominica by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, founded in part by UK assistance. 

Press release - Government of the UK

United Kingdom

UK to make UN funding contingent on reform

During a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side event, UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced up to a third of UK funding to the UN starting 2018 will be dependent on the agencies' demonstrating improved results and progress toward the UK's desired reforms. The UK's reform priorities for a ‘21st Century UN’ include:

  • Agencies will need to demonstrate effective collaboration, greater transparency, and accountability;
  • Agencies will have to demonstrate that effective accountability and feedback mechanisms are in place during major emergency responses;
  • More effective and efficient delivery of assistance - including greater use of cash transfers;
  • Greater collaboration between the UN agencies, and between the UN and the private sector. 

Patel also stated that the UN agencies must become fully transparent about any accusations made against their staff, contractors, and implementing partners. UN peacekeepers and civilian staff faced over 140 sexual exploitation and abuse allegations in 2017.

Speech - Priti Patel

Press release - Government of the UK

United Kingdom

UK doubles spending to end modern slavery

As part of the Call to Action to End Modern Slavery, the UK has committed an additional £20 million (US$30.6 million) to the new Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. In total, this doubles the UK’s development spending to combat modern slavery to £150 million (US$229.4 million). 

Prime Minister Theresa May also announced at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that the UK will host an international summit of chief prosecutors in 2018 to share best practices on handling complex cases and support traumatized victims.

Press release - Government of the UK

United Kingdom

Canada and UK reaffirm collaboration on development cooperation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have reaffirmed the close partnership between Canada and the UK on a number of policy issues, including development cooperation. New strategic partnerships between the two countries include initiatives to champion women’s economic development, promote clean growth and energy, and strengthen disaster response, reconstruction, and resilience. The prime ministers also announced the creation of a Canada-UK public policy forum. Working groups in the forum will focus on post-‘Brexit’ bilateral relations and public service transformation, among other issues.

Press release - Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Canada United Kingdom

Boris Johnson calls special meeting of foreign ministers on Rohingya crisis

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hosted a ministerial meeting on the Rohingya crisis on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. The meeting included ministers from Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Australia, Indonesia, Sweden, Bangladesh, the US ambassador to the UN, and a representative of the EU.

France, Australia, and the UK all urged Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi to push for an end to military violence against Rohingya Muslims. Burmese national security adviser Thaung Tun, who was present at the meeting, confirmed that those who had fled could return, but the process had to be “discussed”.

News article - Reuters 

Global United Kingdom

UK government calls for OECD to change official ODA definition

Following two severe hurricanes in the Caribbean, the UK government has argued for the definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to include post-natural disaster recovery spending. Currently, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development rules only count as ODA funding given to countries with a per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of less than US$12,745 (in 2013 prices). The UK has thus far contributed £57 million (US$87 million) for immediate relief to hurricane-affected countries. However, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands are officially ineligible to receive ODA, which means funding cannot come from the UK’s development assistance budget, nor be counted toward the 0.7% of GNI target. 

The UK is taking the issue up with the OECD. Priti Patel, Secretary of State for International Development, has been vocal about what she perceives as outdated rules since taking up her post in 2016. 

Press release - UK government

United Kingdom

UK announces plans to maintain development cooperation after ‘Brexit’

In a partnership paper focused mainly on defense and security, the UK reiterated its commitment to using its development budget through international partnerships to advance global development impact and tackle specific country problems. This includes continuing close work with European partners on a case-by-case basis, with the shared goal of supporting the SDGs, tackling extreme poverty, addressing the root causes of instability, preventing conflict, and promoting stability.

Notably, while the report explicitly mentions partnership through reciprocal exchange of experts and sharing approaches, it does not suggest making any joint financial commitments. 

Publication - Government of the UK

News article - Devex

EU United Kingdom

UK parliament finishes appointing committee on foreign affairs

The remaining members of the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee have been confirmed by the House of Commons, including Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat (conservative). He was elected to the position in July 2017, following the general national election. The Foreign Affairs Committee is tasked with examining the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), including the British Council. It is responsible for UK participation in international and regional multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, NATO, and the European Union.

The Committee chooses its own inquiries, and information about future inquiries is forthcoming.

Twitter – Foreign Affairs Committee

Press release – UK Parliament

United Kingdom