Yesterday, Tuesday 16 June, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to merge the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Foreign Office (FCO) to create a new Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. You can see our full statement in response to this announcement here. For many years UNA-UK has argued that a strategic and integrated foreign, security, and defence policy is essential and that public engagement and input into the policy is vitally important. UNA-UK welcomed the previous announcement, 26 February, that expertise from both inside and outside government will feed into the upcoming Integrated Review of the UK’s foreign, defence, security, and development policy. UNA-UK was dismayed to hear that the Government intends to prejudge its own integrated review process by announcing such a significant decision before the review has begun.
Lord Wood of Anfield, Chair of the United Nations Association - UK, said: "The UK Development Sector is key to our country's standing internationally and at the United Nations. It is important that it be treated with great care, and it is therefore worrying to see an announcement be made like this seemingly without meaningful consultation or regard for a broader strategy.”
Until now, although many of our colleagues have expressed opposition to this merger, UNAUK has retained an open mind despite the significant causes for concern. However, the manner in which this proposal is being put forward now does not inspire confidence that due care has been given to its consequences. To be successful, such a merger would have to give proper regard to wider strategic considerations, the potential impacts listed above, and the concerns of the aid and NGO sector, with which both DFID and the FCO work closely.
It would have to follow widespread consultations with a large number of stakeholders and experts. Such a process could have occurred as part of the integrated review. As this decision was made before the review has begun, we have grave concerns.