Head of Foreign & Security Policy, Ruth Wiseman is featured as a guest blogger for UK in Australia - British High Commission, Canberra. Writing on the UK's continued role in global issues.
One of my favourite parts of being a diplomat is meeting people and hearing their stories and ideas. Today I had the privilege of meeting some bright, budding diplomats visiting the British High Commission as part of the National Capital Model United Nations Conference (NCMUN). They were here to gain insights into the UK – the country some of them will be representing at the Conference this weekend.
The students were keen to learn about our country and how we see the world from our perspective as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) – one of the so-called “P5”. And, not surprisingly, there was interest in the ramifications of the EU referendum. I am often asked: does this mean that the UK will have to withdraw from the world to focus inwards?
The answer is absolutely not. Indeed, talking to the students was a reminder of our global reach. And it struck me that the UK’s role last week at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Leader’s week couldn’t have been further from a UK looking inwards.
We have an incredible team of people working at our mission in New York, led by our Permanent Representative, Matthew Rycroft, and supported by many others across our global network and our HQ in London. They facilitated nine UK Ministers attending UNGA – including our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary – and delivered 17 UK-led events.
The UK secured firsts at the UN on making a start on tackling modern slavery and bringing Daesh to account for their actions. Our Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, achieved a unanimous UN Security Council Resolution on aviation security, which will make air travel safer. We galvanised 193 countries into action on anti-microbial resistance to improve the effectiveness of treatments against infections.
We were also active on a range of issues on which we lead in the UN Security Council (UNSC) – Libya, Yemen, Colombia and Somalia – on the latter our PM, Theresa May, announced a London Conference in 2017 to galvanise international support for the Somalis and the region’s fight against the terrorist group Al Shabaab.
Our PM made it very clear that the UK would be playing a leading role in the world: we are open to business and trade; we exceed the NATO target of spending 2% of GDP on defence; and will continue to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). She announced a further 10% increase in humanitarian funding (to AUD2.6bn).