Mak­ing pol­icy on Africa af­ter the Euro di­vorce

The Africa Report - - POLITICS - To­bias Ellwood Min­is­ter for the Mid­dle East and Africa, UK

No one can ac­cuse min­is­ter To­bias Ellwood of be­ing un­am­bi­tious. His re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude diplo­macy and se­cu­rity in Africa and the Mid­dle East (some 66 coun­tries): counter-ter­ror­ism, coun­ter­ing vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, con­sular pol­icy and the il­le­gal wildlife trade. In case he had too much time on his hands, an­other re­spon­si­bil­ity – pol­icy on outer space – was added to the list. Even with­out his in­ter-plan­e­tary du­ties, Ellwood is a very busy min­is­ter. Soon af­ter his ap­point­ment, fol­low­ing the po­lit­i­cal melt­down in the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment caused by the vote to leave the Euro­pean Union (EU) last June, Ellwood was des­patched on a five-coun­try African tour. Ellwood has in­her­ited Africa poli­cies such as mil­i­tary aid to So­ma­lia and the African Union mis­sion there. He is or­gan­is­ing a con­fer­ence on So­ma­lia in Lon­don this year. When asked how Bri­tain’s exit from the EU would af­fect its abil­ity to raise fund­ing for the So­ma­lia mis­sion, he replies: “That’s why we are hold­ing the con­fer­ence, to gal­vanise and con­firm com­mit­ments […]. Yes, the EU will come with a cer­tain level of fund­ing, but the World Bank comes with money [as do] other agen­cies that we’re ei­ther part of or mu­tu­ally sup­port.” Al­though Ellwood cam­paigned for Bri­tain to stay in the EU, he has quickly adapted to the new or­der: “It doesn’t mat­ter what club card you have in your back pocket […]. We are a P5 [per­ma­nent mem­ber of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil]. We have an in­ter­est in sta­bil­ity and peace across the world. “The fact that we’re not part of the EU does not pre­vent us from lean­ing into any chal­lenge,” he con­tin­ues. “Sierra Leone [where Bri­tain sent a mil­i­tary force to fight rebel mili­tias in 2000] was a great ex­am­ple. We will work with part­ners […] the African Union, UN, the Com­mon­wealth. It doesn’t mat­ter whether they are in­side the EU or not.” Ellwood has a back­ground in se­cu­rity and diplo­macy: his par­ents worked for the UN in Ger­many and Vi­enna, and he served in Bri­tain’s Royal Green Jack­ets in North­ern Ire­land, Cyprus and Bos­nia. He is a sturdy de­fender

“There are few coun­tries that can [se­cure UN ap­proval for] mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion any­where”

of Bri­tain’s in­ter­na­tional role: “There are few coun­tries that can do mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion any­where in the world and also se­cure – in the ma­jor­ity of cases – UN le­gal ap­proval for that.” With or with­out the EU, Ellwood ar­gues that Bri­tain can play a spe­cial diplo­matic role, whether on UN peace­keep­ing mis­sions or in­fra­struc­ture deals: “Rus­sia, China, even Amer­ica all come with a dif­fer­ent hue when seen by an African coun­try. So we’re able to put a seat there in the mid­dle and work with our al­lies as a force for good.” Re­luc­tant, like most of his col­leagues, to go into de­tail about Bri­tain’s fu­ture trade strat­egy, Ellwood ar­gues that its pol­icy will be nim­bler with­out the other 27 mem­bers of the EU. But he is an em­phatic sup­porter of the law that com­pels Bri­tish gov­ern­ments to spend at least 0.7% of the coun­try’s gross na­tional in­come on de­vel­op­ment aid. “The rea­son we can get into the room […] that we have power and in­flu­ence in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is be­cause we come with that soft power ca­pa­bil­ity that 0.7% pro­vides.” Those crit­ics of aid, whose views get promi­nence in Bri­tain’s right-wing press, are miss­ing that point, says Ellwood: “They don’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate the lever­age it [aid] gives us on the in­ter­na­tional stage. They have no con­cept of what it does.” M.A. and P.S.

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