New Conscience report available online: The Minister for Peace and Disarmament: An Assessment

by Shaughan Dolan ~ July 9th, 2018. Filed under: News.

A link to the full report can be found here.

Comprehensive coverage of the launch event can be found here.  

Conscience commissioned Dr Tim Street to write this report, which provides an assessment of the Labour party’s proposal to create a Minister for Peace and Disarmament (MPD). The idea of an MPD, initially put forward by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016, led to Fabian Hamilton, (MP for Leeds North East) being appointed the Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament. The proposal was then discussed in Labour’s 2017 Election Manifesto. Since his appointment, Hamilton has been developing the role, working on a ‘peace doctrine’ to outline the post’s underlying principles and remit. Hitherto, however, there has been a lack of public discussion concerning what a MPD would entail and the different areas of work it could include—a gap that this report aims to help fill. This means both considering the overall value of the MPD as well as highlighting the obstacles to and opportunities for the post being a success given the many challenges involved.

Part One of the report begins by considering where the idea for a MPD came from and what may be learned from the UK and other countries’ experiences of establishing similar roles to a MPD and alternative approaches to international policy. It then considers the UK’s current role in the world and the different directions it may take in future, touching on the key debates and issues facing decision-makers today, including Brexit, the idea of Global Britain, the UK’s relations with Russia and the US as well as climate change. The state of domestic politics is next discussed in relation to these issues, focusing on public opinion and the positions of the main political parties on international policy in order to ascertain the potential for progressive and more radical change in areas relating to the MPD.

Following this, Part Two examines the arguments for and against a MPD more closely, principally by drawing on interviews with a range of people with policy experience and knowledge in this field. From talking to academics, policy experts, campaigners and political figures, it became apparent that there are a variety of views on and interpretations of what an MPD would mean in practice. The views of these respondents are therefore discussed as a means of examining what obstacles will need to be overcome and what opportunities taken advantage of if the MPD post is to be a success.

With regard to more practical concerns, a key issue is how the MPD will operate in terms of the machinery of government and relate to other departments with pre-existing aims and interests. Part Two therefore also includes an examination of possible institutional arrangements for the MPD, including resources and funding. Having reviewed the political and institutional issues involved, the report then provides several different options for how a MPD might be configured, in addition to considering how these options may interact with political choices and developments in future.

Conscience launches the report Minister for Peace and Disarmament: An Assessment in Parliament.

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