'Force for Good' - Opportunities & challenges for an integrated foreign and development policy

Tuesday 23 March 2021 (17:00-18:00)

In light of the recent merge of FCO and DFID, what are the opportunities and challenges for an integrated foreign and development policy?

The UK Government announced the merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in June 2020, creating a new department – the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. While the announcement of the merger may have been a surprise for many, the ambition for closer integration for UK defence, diplomacy and development is not. The Foreign Secretary has made clear his ambition for the FCDO to be a ‘force for good’, recommitting support for poverty reduction as well as defending open societies and human rights and ensuring that the UK’s ‘increased investment in security and defence spending will also allow us to better support war-torn nations and vulnerable governments’. He has told Parliament that a more integrated approach to allocating ODA will help deliver this.

Despite this, the new department has already faced criticism that it is falling short on its commitment to open societies and on its stated ambition to be a force for good. With the announcement of cuts to the ODA budget from 0.7% to 0.5% and now with the publication of the Integrated Review on 16th March, the debate around whether reality will match the rhetoric continues. On top of this, past scandals such as the Pergau Dam find echoes in current concerns about the restarting of arms sales to Saudi Arabia as the budget for aid to Yemen looks set to be cut.

Join us for this debate, which will see our panel provide fresh perspectives on this important topic including how can the FCDO best respond to ODA budget cuts and outcomes of the Integrated Review? Can the FCDO avoid mistakes made in the past, such as the Pergau Dam scandal? Do increases in defence spending at the same time aid is cut represent a challenge for the UK as a force for good, or will integration enable ‘better support [for] war-torn nations’ as claimed? What opportunities are there for a more integrated foreign and development policy? And what role should the rest of us play in supporting the department’s ambitions to be a ‘force for good’ and how can we hold them to account?

The panel includes:

Chair: Professor Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy and International Development, College of Social Sciences


  • Professor Heather Marquette, Professor of Development Politics, University of Birmingham
  • Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Former Secretary of State for International Development, University of Birmingham
  • Sam Nadel, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Oxfam Great Britain
  • Dr Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou, Director of Programme, Politics and Governance, ODI
  • Lord Ricketts GCMG GCVO, former UK National Security Advisor and Permanent Under-Secretary, FCO.

This free event is open to all - staff, students, key stakeholders and members of the public.