UK, Australia & NZ ‘punishing’ Commonwealth Secretariat

  • 19 February 2020
  • From the section UK
Baroness Scotland Image copyright Getty Images

Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland has criticised the UK, Australia and New Zealand for suspending their funding of the body that runs the international organisation, the BBC has learned.

In a confidential letter to diplomats in London, Lady Scotland describes the three countries as using a "big stick" to "punish" the Commonwealth Secretariat over concerns about its financial procedures.

She urged the countries to reverse their decision to withhold almost £7m a year, which she says has left her organisation facing a financial crisis. She claimed small member states in particular would suffer from the loss of funding.

In the letter, which was leaked to the BBC, the former Labour minister also appealed to Commonwealth diplomats to end what she called the "biased leaks" of "classified information" from within the organisation that, she claimed, had generated "malicious media stories".

Lady Scotland announced earlier that she had formally asked to be reappointed for a second four-year term of office.

Read full article UK, Australia & NZ ‘punishing’ Commonwealth Secretariat

Cabinet reshuffle: International development and Foreign Office merger?

Dominic Raab Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dominic Raab at a UK-Africa investment summit last month

Beneath the unexpected bloodletting of his cabinet reshuffle, Boris Johnson has quietly but radically reformed the way his ministers will handle foreign affairs.

For the prime minister has decided that every single junior Foreign Office minister will also be a joint minister with the Department for International Development.

Read full article Cabinet reshuffle: International development and Foreign Office merger?

US-UK relations: Is London toughening its stance with Washington?

  • 24 January 2020
  • From the section UK
Boris Johnson and Donald Trump shake hands Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK officials insist that there is no deliberate attempt to pick a fight with the US

For years, much tosh has been spoken about the so-called special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.

The two countries are allies of long-standing with shared values, history and language. Both have shed much blood and treasure together in defence of freedom. The beaches of Normandy bear witness to that.

Read full article US-UK relations: Is London toughening its stance with Washington?

Iran attack: How much influence does UK have in US-Iran crisis?

  • 8 January 2020
  • From the section UK
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives in Downing Street London, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson assembled key ministers to discuss the spiralling crisis in the Middle East following the US's assassination of Iran's top military leader. Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives in Downing Street for talks on the US-Iran crisis

There is an old joke in diplomatic circles that Iran is the last country in the world that still thinks the United Kingdom is a great power.

So it was no surprise when on Tuesday Rob Macaire, the UK ambassador to Iran, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Tehran to be hauled over the coals after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani.

Read full article Iran attack: How much influence does UK have in US-Iran crisis?

What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?

  • 3 January 2020
  • From the section World
A picture of solar panels at the Gemasolar energy plant in southern Spain
Image caption Solar power is one form of renewable energy that is replacing fossil fuels

If you want to understand the revolution taking place in renewable energy, come to a power station called Gemasolar in southern Spain.

Here, in the dusty plains of Andalusia, they have worked out how to generate solar power 24 hours a day.

Read full article What will the end of oil dependence mean for geopolitics?

Six foreign policy issues the UK's new PM will face

Boris Johnson (left) and Jeremy Hunt during the BBC Conservative Leadership televised debate on June 18, 2019

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are fighting to take over from Theresa May as the leader of the Conservative Party and the UK's next prime minister.

Central to the contest is an interpretation of what may or may not happen on 31 October, when Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union.

Read full article Six foreign policy issues the UK's new PM will face

Commonwealth Secretariat in 'urgent need' of reform

  • 13 June 2019
  • From the section UK
Commonwealth boss Lady Scotland Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Commonwealth Secretariat, run by Lady Scotland, is the organisation's main intergovernmental agency, facilitating cooperation among member governments

The Commonwealth Secretariat, the body that manages the international organisation in London, is in "urgent need" of reform, according to a leaked internal report obtained by the BBC.

It says there are "deep concerns" about the governance structures of the secretariat which "lacks clarity" in its priorities and needs to be "more transparent and accountable". It adds there is a "serious and urgent need" to stabilise the body's funding.

Read full article Commonwealth Secretariat in 'urgent need' of reform

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: What will diplomatic protection mean for her?

  • 7 March 2019
  • From the section UK
Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Iranian-British aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe denies the charge of plotting against the Iranian government

The decision by the British government to give Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe formal diplomatic protection marks a significant escalation in the UK's campaign to secure the release of the British-Iranian dual national who is detained in Tehran.

It is an extremely rare diplomatic and legal move that signals the UK is no longer treating the case as a consular matter but a formal, legal dispute between Britain and Iran.

Read full article Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: What will diplomatic protection mean for her?

How will the UK's post-Brexit global role look?

  • 25 February 2019
  • From the section UK
British and EU flags flutter outside the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Reuters

How do UK politicians and policymakers see Britain's foreign policy after it leaves the EU?

For three years, Brexit has drained the intellectual life force out of Whitehall and Westminster, leaving little time and space for thinking about the future.

Read full article How will the UK's post-Brexit global role look?

Commonwealth deputy wins compensation for dismissal

  • 20 December 2018
  • From the section UK
Commonwealth boss Lady Scotland Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lady Scotland became Commonwealth secretary-general in 2016

The Commonwealth secretary-general, Lady Scotland, has been accused at an employment tribunal of mounting a campaign to sideline and undermine one of her deputies.

Dr Josephine Ojiambo, a Kenyan diplomat, made the accusation after Lady Scotland decided not to renew her term of office as deputy secretary-general. The tribunal found the Commonwealth Secretariat breached its contract with Dr Ojiambo and ordered it to pay compensation and costs. A spokesman for the secretariat said it was studying the ruling.

Read full article Commonwealth deputy wins compensation for dismissal