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BritainUSA Home > British Foreign Policy

Britain and Africa: the UK's position and statements on developments in Africa.


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    The UK government's approach to Africa is to promote good governance and economic development throughout Africa, and work to prevent conflict, with the goals of peace, stability and an improved quality of life for Africa's people.

    Bi-lateral aid to Africa from the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) increased from $1.82 billion a year in 2006 to $2.28 billion in 2008. The United Kingdom recently contributed $114 million in humanitarian aid to the refugees in Darfur, Sudan.

    The UK works in conjunction with the G8, the United Nations, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and other international partners. In 2000, the UK was one of the 190 countries to sign up to the Millennium Development Goals. The eight MDGs  are a global effort to help the developing world eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environment sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. Most of the countries in the MDG plan are in Africa. The UK has provided billions of dollars to help African nations achieve their MDGs.

    In July 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking alongside UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the MDG Call to Action, with the support of 14 heads of state or governments and 21 private sector leaders. With many of the MDGs still off-track at the halfway point to the target year of 2015, this seeks to accelerate progress on achieving them.

    The UK also provides important funding support to the UNs Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in key areas such as peacekeeping policy and guidance development, knowledge management and gender mainstreaming to help war-torn African nations. This fits into the UNs ‘Peacekeeping 2010 reform effort, and demonstrates the UKs strong commitment to strengthening the instrument of UN peacekeeping to better meet the complex and ever growing demands it faces around the world.

    UK Action in Africa
    The UK has intervened in Africa on a number of conflict prevent/resolution occasions. The UK works closely with its international partners, including the African Union to rebuild democracy in former-war torn countries.

    For example, four regional conflict advisers coordinating a range of work, including:

    • Grassroots conflict prevention and resolution work in Nigeria, Uganda and Somalia;
    • Giving support to the Darfur and Southern Sudan peace agreements;
    • Peacekeeping training in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya; and
    • Post-conflict projects in Liberia.

    The UK made sure that the international community remained focused on Zimbabwe through an EU statement at the Human Rights Council, as well as EU Council conclusions and G8 statements condemning state-sponsored violence. In Zimbabwe we spend $6.5 million each year supporting people on the ground who are working for democracy. The embassy in Harare proactively monitors human rights abuses. It monitored closely preparations for the March 29, 2020 elections.

    The disputed result of Kenyan elections in December 2007 led to violence in which up to 1,500 people were killed and an estimated 250,000 displaced. The UKs diplomatic intervention focused on:

    • Securing an end to violence;
    • Following up allegations of election irregularity; and
    • Uurging Kenyas politicians to agree, and then implement fully and in good faith, a lasting political solution through a process of dialogue, supported by AU mediation, led by Kofi Annan.

    The UK has played a leading role in the EU, the UN and with our African partners to shape a coherent international policy. Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke on many occasions to his counterparts across Europe, in the USA and in Africa to advance the governments aims. Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN Lord Malloch-Brown visited Kenya at the end of January 2008 and discussed the issue with our African partners in the margins of the AU summit in Addis Ababa. On February 28, 2008, a political solution (including a power-sharing agreement and a means to address underlying political issues) was agreed. The violence ceased and political leaders are now focused on dialogue and on implementing the agreement.

    The Juba Peace Process produced a final peace agreement that ends the long-running conflict, one of Africas worst, between the Ugandan government and the Lords Resistance Army. The UKs supported the Secretary-Generals special representative, former Mozambique President Chissano, and drove EU (Council conclusions in June 2007) and UN (New York seminar in August 2007) policy on the issue.

    The UK mission to the UN has continued to ensure that the UN Security Council has given support to the Juba Process. The UK has contributed $495,000 to the UN fund supporting the peace process. Prime Minister Gordon Brown discussed the peace process with President Museveni when they met during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala in November 2007 and again when they met in London on March 10, 2008.

    Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
    The UN peacekeeping mission, which includes British military officers, is vital in:

    • Supporting stabilisation and efforts to achieve peace and reduction in violence, particularly in the east of the region;
    • Achieving ceasefires between the armed forces and rebel troops;
    • Paving the way for rebel soldiers to rejoin the army; and
    • Making access possible for humanitarian organisations.

    The UK worked on the missions renewal in December 2007, arguing for more attention to the problems of sexual violence and the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda militia, and support for local elections in 2008.

    Officials from the UK government have established a mini-mission in Goma, eastern DRC, to
    support stabilization; report on developments in the conflict; and provide political representation.

    The UK has played a leading role in the International Contact Group on Somalia at its four meetings during 2007. The UK hosted the Contact Group in June 2007. In 2007/08, the UK took the lead in the UN Security Council on Somalia successfully where resolutions 1744 (February 2007), 1772 (August 2007) and 1801 (February 2008) where all unanimously adopted. These set out the international communitys policy towards the political process in Somalia and authorized the deployment of the African Unions peacekeeping mission. The UK has provided $15.8 million towards this mission from the UK Peacekeeping Budget. The FCO has also helped shape successive EU Council conclusions, in April, May and December 2007.

    Sierra Leone
    The UK contributed to international efforts to make sure that the first national elections since the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers took place peacefully. The UK also actively supported the efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission to build long-term governance and development. In December 2007 it agreed a peace-building cooperation framework with the government of Sierra Leone.

    Sudan has been a priority in 2007/08. A coordinated effort by the UK, including our mission in New York and embassies in Khartoum and other key capitals, together with partners across government, achieved agreement in July 2007 in the UN and African Union to authorize a joint peacekeeping mission to Darfur.

    The UN Security Council has formed a strategy, which the UK has helped devise, to tackle security, political and humanitarian issues in Darfur. The UK is working with the government and international partners to overcome problems related to the deployment of the UN AU Mission in Darfur and develop a viable cease-fire and peace process.

    The UK has been involved in the peace negotiations and provided $3.9 million support, together with $9.9 million of UK assistance to the Darfur Community Peace and Stability Fund, to tackle Darfurs immediate recovery and long-term reconstruction needs.

    The UK remains focused on the peace process for southern Sudan, including implementation of the north–south comprehensive peace agreement. The UK:
    was a member of the Assessment and Evaluation Committee (AEC), which monitors the implementation of the peace agreement, and also led the AEC security sub-committee and worked in the UN Security Council to strengthen the UN Mission in Sudan peacekeeping mandate.

    Cost Benefit Analysis: Conflict Prevention vs Peacekeeping
    The sums the UK government spends on preventing conflict and on building local capacity are relatively low when compared to what it costs the government to intervene directly or through the UN once conflict has broken out.

    In 2007/08, for example, the UK invested $2.9 million in the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool in building the conflict prevention and peacekeeping capacity of the African Union. That action could prevent a future crisis like that of Sierra Leone in the 1990s, or make sure the AU can intervene quickly to prevent a problem from developing. Although Sierra Leone was a notable success in responding to a crisis once it emerged, it was a multimillion dollar commitment by the UK to provide its troops on the ground, apart from our share of the cost of the UN force.

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    Africa Spotlight

    A Fair Hearing for the Poor in Malawi

    July 28, 2020

    A Fair Hearing for the Poor in Malawi

    A DFID-backed initiative in Malawi is working to ensure that poor people aren't let down by the justice system. Looking into issues from land disputes to child protection, from witchcraft to domestic violence, Primary Justice Forums are bringing fairer, faster justice across the country.
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