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Defence and Security Issues Discussed in the 21st Century
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The DSF's Co-founder, Lady Olga Maitland
Welcome to The Defence and Security Forum

The Defence and Security Forum was founded by Lady Olga Maitland in 1983. It was originally a campaigning organisation known as Families for Defence launched to challenge the anti-nuclear protest movements such as CND. Families for Defence’s remit was to promote the NATO case for multilateral nuclear disarmament. In the course of doing so the purpose was to focus on the importance of a proper provision for the defence of the United Kingdom.
Major General Patrick Cordingley, our Chairman Our Keynote Topics

  • International Relations
  • Economics
  • Politics
  • Defence and Security
COVID-19 Lockdown News and Defence Review Speech Booking forms

Due to the coronavirus lockdown, DSF has now postponed the Summer programme to the Autumn with some additions included. A new agenda will be circulated. Meanwhile, geopolitical issues do continue and should be monitored.  One key subject is the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review’.
DSF’s  Director of Studies has written a review,  see below.  We will hold a seminar dinner on this in the autumn. Please do respond with your own comments which we will circulate with your permission. We will also be sending  out papers twice a month on current topics to keep  you up to date'.

Defence Review and Re-Considerations

In the Queen's Speech of December 2019, it was announced the Government will work to promote and expand the United Kingdom's influence in the world. 

As a result, an Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy review will take place in 2020. This review goes beyond a defence review to include all aspects of the UK’s place in the world from diplomatic services, to capabilities of the Armed Forces and security agencies, along with addressing matters of international development. In line with the political rhetoric of today, the Prime Minister stated it will be the largest review by the UK since World War II, and that it will be the most radical reassessment of our place in the world since the end of the Cold War. There is no doubt the Integrated Review is expansive, the question is how much change will result? The Queen's speech set out the broad parameters of what is driving the Integrated Review, these include:

  • reassessing the place in the world in relation to all aspects of international polciy;
  • promoting the UK's global interests with specific mention of this in relation to freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law; 
  • working closely with (unnamed) international partners to solve global security issues and promoting peace and security.
  • standing firm against threats to the values of the UK, with specific mention of a sanctions regime to address human rights abuses overseas. 
Limits of the Integrated Review

From a briefing document produced by the PM's office in December 2019 we can extract further information on the depth, breadth and potential limits of the Integrated Review. In addition to the above points from the Queen's Speech, the PM’s office has expressed a desire for:

  • enhancing the UK’s global status and reach as part of Brexit;
  • pursuing new opportunities and challenges in a changed world;
  • examining priorities in alliances, diplomacy and development;
  • creating an approach to defence, security and foreign affairs that is “fit-for-purpose”;
  • taking a comprehensive review of all security dimensions addressing hostile powers, terrorists and organised crime. 
NATO Commitments

The defence part of the review will retain government spending in line with the NATO commitment of at least 2% of GDP being spent on defence. There is also significant talk of examining how defence procurement works in order to save on costs and moving to enhanced technology to support the forces. The March budget announcement had 100 million for defence research and development to support ongoing technology innovation.

The March budget also committed to extensive spending across a range of domestic matters raising some question on how much new money will be available. A key point of the Integrated Review is the consideration of new opportunities in relation the shifting dynamics of military, political and economic power in the world today. Clearly this means moving beyond NATO, the EU and the West more generally to examine new opportunities to other existing and emerging global powers, such as China, Russia, India,
Brazil, Gulf States, and others.

Shifting global trends

The UK already has a range of connections with these and other states who are part of the shifting global trends in power and wealth. The question is whether the Integrated Review will be able chart a path for new forms of cooperation with a new set of defence and security partners while maintaining the UK’s desire to champion a range of values?

This stands as a question, and not a given conclusion, due to the strong emphasis given in the Integrated Review to the values that are to be upheld as part of the UK’s new role in the world. The Queen’s Speech and the PM’s briefing directly mention the UK upholding freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law around the world. Furthermore, there is going to be the creation of a human rights sanctions regime to target individuals responsible for major human rights violations.This part of the plan is going to create a number of limitations on whom the UK can work closely with on a whole range of matters. Of course, states can pursue defence and security arrangements with partners that do not adhere to shared values, that is normal part of
global affairs.

But the stated objectives of the Integrated Review is that action is to be taken against those that abuse human rights which suggests that certain normative values cannot be overlooked in global cooperation. Even if the new approach to human rights abusers is directed at individuals, this is going to run into state interests in many situations, thereby limiting the opportunity for new partnerships. The expressed view on values and human rights means that the Integrated Review is going to be highly limited regarding new opportunities for cooperation outside of NATO and EU member states; even there some questions arise.

New opportunities

In looking at new opportunities in cooperation over defence and security the UK's fellow UN Security Council members all have serious matters in this regard to address. We can argue that the UK could take leadership on human rights and by working with others on defence and security issues would bring about change.

This is a fallacy as key global powers with resources and power who would be potential new partners and allies are not interested in discussing normative values and unlikely to accept any UK pressure on these matters. The idea of Global Britain as a force for good around the world should be supported. As a result, however, the UK will remain limited in defence and security cooperation to its current allies as a wholly new reconsideration of allies is not compatible to the emphasis on promoting and protecting values and norms.

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A DSF speaker. Lady Olga Maitland talking to delegates. A DSF speaker
Delegates enjoying the debate. Lady Olga Maitland chatting to a delegate. Cordingley

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