Friday, August 22 2014

‘Building Stability Overseas Strategy’ and the Arab Spring



 In the wake of the Arab spring, the British government has published a strategy document entitled ‘Building Stability Overseas Strategy’ (BSOS). As the foreword states, the Arab Spring has “challenged long standing notions of stability. Challenges to oppression, if managed peacefully, can be a rejuvenating force for society”.

The BSOS strategy focuses on an early warning system; rapid crisis prevention and response; and upstream prevention.

The report includes commitments to working in the future in fragile areas with local government and non-government actors such as the private sector, faith groups, civil society and the media. Non-state and civil society actors constitute the main driving-force behind ongoing calls for reform in the Middle East.

In 2009, the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband made a speech calling for a new way of approaching relations with the Muslim world. In it, he spoke about the need to “hold fast to our own values and support those who seek to apply them”, or be guilty of hypocrisy. Up until now, the government has failed to fulfill such words with deeds by its continued support for dictators in the Arab world and elsewhere.

Miliband also addressed how terrorism has narrowed the focus of the relationship between the west and the Muslim world, and how the west has failed to address Muslim aspirations for “political liberties, freedom of speech and fair judicial systems.”

In May 2011, the G8 countries at a summit at Deauville, France pledged their support for the Arab Spring and also launched the ‘Deauville Partnership’ whereby a framework was set out for political and economic support of the reforms taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

The BSOS report is the development of the British approach, and “seeks to address the lessons we have learnt from these events and marks the first time that the Government has put in place an integrated cross-government strategy to address conflict issues.”

The ‘Arab Partnership Initiative,’ which constitutes a key part of the BSOS, is led jointly by the FCO and DFID who together have a £110 million budget over four years, “to support the building of a more stable, open and prosperous Middle East and North Africa region.” It includes an FCO-led participation fund of up to £40 million to work “across the countries of the region to support meaningful political reform, in partnership with civil society, parliaments, the media and judiciary.”

 









Last Updated on Monday, 25 July 2011 17:33

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