UK Government publishes Integrated Review of Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

Posted on 16 March, 2021 by Advance 

Today the UK Government published its Integrated Review of Defence, Development and Foreign Policy.

Global Britain in a competitive age.

Cover image: summer sun over the UK.
Credit: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA

Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, describes the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action we will take to 2025.

The Integrated Review is a comprehensive articulation of the UK’s national security and international policy. It outlines three fundamental national interests that bind together the citizens of the UK – sovereignty, security and prosperity – alongside our values of democracy and a commitment to universal human rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and faith and equality.

The Integrated Review concludes at an important moment for the United Kingdom. The world has changed considerably since the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, as has the UK’s place within it.

The document, which is the product of over a year of work across government and of consultation with a wide range of external organisations and thinkers, sets out a vision for Global Britain. This includes:

an emphasis on openness as a source of prosperity

a more robust position on security and resilience

a renewed commitment to the UK as a force for good in the world

an increased determination to seek multilateral solutions to challenges like climate change

It also stresses the importance of deepening our relationships with allies and partners around the world, as well as moving more swiftly and with greater agility.

In this context, the Integrated Review sets out four overarching objectives:

Sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology, incorporating it as an integral element of national security and international policy to firmly establish the UK as a global S&T and responsible cyber power. This will be essential in gaining economic, political and security advantages.

Shaping the open international order of the future, working with partners to reinvigorate the international institutions, laws and norms that enable open societies and economies such as the UK to flourish. This will help our citizens and others around the world realise the full benefits of democracy, free trade and international cooperation – not least in the future frontiers of cyberspace and space.

Strengthening security and defence at home and overseas, working with allies and partners to help us to maximise the benefits of openness and protect our people, in the physical world and online, against a range of growing threats. These include state threats, radicalisation and terrorism, serious and organised crime, and weapons proliferation.

Building resilience at home and overseas, improving our ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to risks ranging from extreme weather to cyber-attacks. This will also involve tackling risks at source – in particular climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Integrated Review sets out the government’s overarching national security and international policy objectives to 2025. These will inform future policy-making for all government departments. They will also inform future Spending Reviews, offering further opportunities to align resources with ambition over the long term. Government will ensure all its instruments work together, coordinated by enhanced strategic capabilities at the centre, to achieve its objectives.

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt said: “The Integrated Review sets out the UK’s clear ambitions for a secure and prosperous Global Britain. Industry is ready to work in partnership with the UK’s Armed Forces, security services and law enforcement agencies to equip them with the advanced technology they need to fulfil this vision and boost our national security and resilience.

“Industry looks forward to publication of the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy next week to fully understand how delivery of the Government’s ambitions will support jobs and prosperity in all parts of the UK, and strengthen our international trade partnerships.

“Realising the UK’s ambition to become a true science and technology superpower can bring benefits across many sectors of the economy. It will require a strong partnership of Government, industry and academia to secure the rising R&D investment required.”

Dr David Blagden, of the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, said: “The publication of the Integrated Security, Defence, Development, and Foreign Policy Review confirms much of what was already expected. There is emphasis on a “tilt” in UK commitments towards more engagement with the Indian Ocean and Pacific theatres but also continued recognition that our Euro-Atlantic home region will have to remain the enduring focus of UK strategy; there could therefore be difficult balancing acts to come when deploying forces ‘East of Suez’ means less availability for European/Atlantic/Mediterranean operations.

"There is also significant commitment to developing new science and technology - both in general, and also with specific military applications - that should help to keep the UK at or near the frontier of technological sophistication, but that may also come at the expense of proven conventional capabilities; next week’s Defence Command Paper will contain more detail on that front.

"There is an eye-catching decision to raise the stated ceiling on the number of nuclear weapons in the UK stockpile, reflecting growing concern about several possible deterrence challenges, including a potential Russian threat to NATO, fears over a catastrophic cyberattack that could inflict damage akin to an atomic strike, or state supply of weapons of mass destruction to a terrorist group.”