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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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{{Redirect|Foreign Office}}{{use dmy dates|date=February 2012}}







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|employees = PUBLISHER=HM TREASURYURL=HTTPS://WWW.GOV.UK/GOVERNMENT/NEWS/FOREIGN-OFFICES-SETTLEMENT-AT-THE-SPENDING-REVIEW-2015, 20 May 2016, |minister1_name = Rt Hon. Dominic Raab MP|minister1_pfo = Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs|minister2_name = Rt Hon. Christopher Pincher MP|minister2_pfo = Minister of State for Europe and the Americas|minister3_name = Com. Rt Hon. Andrew Murrison MP|minister3_pfo = Minister of State for the Middle EastTariq Ahmad, Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon>The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon|minister4_pfo = Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN|minister5_name = Rt Hon. Andrew Stephenson MP|minister5_pfo = Minister of State for Africa|minister6_name = Heather Wheeler MP|minister6_pfo = Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Asia & the PacificSimon McDonald (diplomat)>Sir Simon McDonald KCMG KCVOPermanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs>Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service|chief2_name = |chief2_position = |parent_agency =|child1_agency = FCO Services|child2_agency = Wilton Park|child3_agency =www.gov.uk/fco}}|footnotes =chief3_name=chief4_name=chief5_name=chief6_name=chief7_name=chief8_name=chief9_name=parent_department=}}{{PoliticsUK}}The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office (which was the formal name of its predecessor until 1968), or British Foreign Office, is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide and was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly abbreviated to "Foreign Secretary". This is regarded as one of the four most prestigious positions in the Cabinet – the Great Offices of State – alongside those of Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary.The FCO is managed from day to day by a civil servant, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who also acts as the Head of Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service. This position is held by Sir Simon McDonald, who took office on 1 September 2015.

Responsibilities

  • Safeguarding the UK's national security by countering terrorism and weapons proliferation, and working to reduce conflict.
  • Building the UK's prosperity by increasing exports and investment, opening markets, ensuring access to resources, and promoting sustainable global growth.
  • Supporting British nationals around the world through modern and efficient consular services.

Ministers

The FCO Ministers are as follows:WEB, Our ministers,weblink GOV.UK, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1 August 2019, WEB,weblink Her Majesty's Official Opposition, UK Parliament, en, 2017-10-17, {| class=wikitable! Minister! Rank! Portfolio| The Rt Hon.Dominic Raab MPSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs>Secretary of State| Overall responsibility for the department; Policy Unit; intelligence policy; honours. | The Rt Hon. Christopher Pincher MPMinister of State for Europe>Minister of State for Europe and the AmericasAmericas>The Americas (including Cuba and the Falkland Islands); Europe (including Turkey, Gibraltar and Sovereign Base Areas); deputy to the Foreign Secretary for EU Exit Cabinet Committees; eastern Europe and central Asia; defence and international security (only Euro-Atlantic security policy); multilateral policy (only OSCE, Council of Europe and sanctions); relations with Parliament. | The Rt Hon. Dr Andrew Murrison MP| Minister of State for the Middle East & North Africa| The Middle East and North Africa; stabilisation (including Stabilisation Unit); national security (excluding intelligence policy); defence and international security (excluding Euro-Atlantic security policy). | Andrew Stephenson MP| Minister of State for Africa| Africa; consular policy; LGBTQ+ equality. Tariq Ahmad, Baron Ahmad of Wimbledon>Lord Ahmad| Minister of State for the Commonwealth, the UN and South AsiaCommonwealth of Nations>the Commonwealth, United Nations and human rights, excluding OSCE and Council of Europe); Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative; south Asia and Afghanistan; Overseas Territories (excluding Gibraltar, Sovereign Base Areas and the Falklands); the Caribbean (excluding Cuba); Foreign and Commonwealth Office operations. | Heather Wheeler MP| Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Asia and the PacificEast Asia>East and Southeast Asia; Australasia and the Pacific Ocean>Pacific; economic diplomacy (including Foreign and Commonwealth Office representative for Prosperity Fund Ministerial Board and climate change); oceans; communications; British Council; Economics Unit; gender equality (including gender and conflict, and women and girls' rights); protocol; Diplomatic Academy; estates and security.

History of the department

{{Uk-fco-history}}

The Foreign Office

File:foreign.office.london.arp.jpg|right|thumb|The Foreign Office building by Sir George Gilbert Scott, viewed from Horse Guards RoadHorse Guards Road
Eighteenth century
The Foreign Office was formed in March 1782 by combining the Southern and Northern Departments of the Secretary of State, each of which covered both foreign and domestic affairs in their parts of the Kingdom. The two departments' foreign affairs responsibilities became the Foreign Office, whilst their domestic affairs responsibilities were assigned to the Home Office. The Home Office is technically the senior.weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20080516232053weblink">A brief history of the FCO Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Nineteenth century
During the 19th century, it was not infrequent for the Foreign Office to approach The Times newspaper and ask for continental intelligence, which was often superior to that conveyed by official sources.WEB,weblink The Victorian information age: nineteenth century answers to today's information policy questions?, Weller, Toni, June 2010, History & Policy, History & Policy, 9 December 2010, United Kingdom, Examples of journalists who specialized in foreign affairs and were well connected to politicians included: Henry Southern, Valentine Chirol, Harold Nicolson, and Robert Bruce Lockhart.WEB,weblink A Diplomatic Whistleblower in the Victorian Era, Berridge, G. R., grberridge.diplomacy.edu, 5 June 2017,
Twentieth century
During the First World War, the Arab Bureau was set up within the British Foreign Office as a section of the Cairo Intelligence Department. During the early cold war an important department was the Information Research Department, set up to counter Soviet propaganda and infiltration. The Foreign Office hired its first woman diplomat, Monica Milne, in 1946.WEB, Women and the Foreign Office,weblink Issu.com, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 23 October 2018,

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The FCO was formed on 17 October 1968, from the merger of the short-lived Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office.NEWS,weblink The Foreign and Commonwealth Ministries merge, The Glasgow Herald, 17 October 1968, 1, 28 October 2017, The Commonwealth Office had been created only in 1966, by the merger of the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office having been formed by the merger of the Dominions Office and the India Office in 1947—with the Dominions Office having been split from the Colonial Office in 1925.The Foreign and Commonwealth Office held responsibility for international development issues between 1970 and 1974, and again between 1979 and 1997. From 1997, this became the responsibility of the separate Department for International Development.The National Archives website contains a Government timeline to show the departments responsible for Foreign Affairs from 1945.WEB,weblink The National Archives - Homepage, The National, Archives, labs.nationalarchives.gov.uk,

Developments

When David Miliband took over as Foreign Secretary in June 2007, he set in hand a review of the FCO's strategic priorities. One of the key messages of these discussions was the conclusion that the existing framework of ten international strategic priorities, dating from 2003, was no longer appropriate. Although the framework had been useful in helping the FCO plan its work and allocate its resources, there was agreement that it needed a new framework to drive its work forward.The new strategic framework consists of three core elements:
  • A flexible global network of staff and offices, serving the whole of the UK Government.
  • Three essential services that support the British economy, British nationals abroad and managed migration for Britain. These services are delivered through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), consular teams in Britain and overseas, and UK Visas and Immigration.
  • Four policy goals:
    • countering terrorism and weapons proliferation and their causes
    • preventing and resolving conflict
    • promoting a low-carbon, high-growth, global economy
    • developing effective international institutions, in particular the United Nations and the European Union.
In August 2005, a report by management consultant group Collinson Grant was made public by Andrew Mackinlay. The report severely criticised the FCO's management structure, noting:
  • The Foreign Office could be "slow to act".
  • Delegation is lacking within the management structure.
  • Accountability was poor.
  • The FCO could feasibly cut 1200 jobs.
  • At least £48 million could be saved annually.
The Foreign Office commissioned the report to highlight areas which would help it achieve its pledge to reduce spending by £87 million over three years. In response to the report being made public, the Foreign Office stated it had already implemented the report's recommendations.WEB,weblink BBC NEWS - UK - UK Politics - Foreign Office management damned, In 2009, Gordon Brown created the position of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the FCO. The first science adviser was David C. Clary.JOURNAL, Clary, David, A Scientist in the Foreign Office, Science & Diplomacy, 2013-09-16, 2, 3,weblink On 25 April 2010, the department apologised after The Sunday Telegraph obtained a "foolish" document calling for the upcoming September visit of Pope Benedict XVI to be marked by the launch of "Benedict-branded" condoms, the opening of an abortion clinic and the blessing of a same-sex marriage.NEWS,weblink BBC News, Apology over Pope 'condom' memo, 25 April 2010, In 2012, the Foreign Office was criticised by Gerald Steinberg, of the Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor, saying that the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development provided more than £500,000 in funding to Palestinian NGOs which he said "promote political attacks on Israel." In response, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said "we are very careful about who and what we fund. The objective of our funding is to support efforts to achieve a two-state solution. Funding a particular project for a limited period of time does not mean that we endorse every single action or public comment made by an NGO or by its employees."WEB,weblink ‘Investigate UK funding of Palestinian NGOs’, thejc.com, In September 2012, the FCO and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding on diplomatic cooperation, which promotes the co-location of embassies, the joint provision of consular services, and common crisis response. The project has been criticised for further diminishing the UK's influence in Europe.WEB,weblink At the Helm of a New Commonwealth Diplomatic Network: In the United Kingdom's Interest?, Gaspers, Jan, November 2012, 2012-11-26,

Overseas Territories Directorate

The Overseas Territories Directorate is responsible for the British Overseas Territories.BOOK,weblink The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, June 2012, 9780101837422,

FCO Services

In April 2006, a new executive agency was established, FCO Services, to provide corporate service functions.JOURNAL,weblink Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Hansard, March 2006, It moved to Trading Fund status in April 2008, so that it had the ability to provide services similar to those it already offers to the FCOWEB,weblink The FCO Services Trading Fund Order 2008, National Archives, UK Legislation, May 1, 2012, to other government departments and even to outside businesses.It is accountable to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and provides secure support services to the FCO, other government departments and foreign governments and bodies with which the UK has close links.WEB,weblink Who we are, 2011-05-24, FCO Services,weblink 22 February 2013, bot: unknown, 2011-06-18, dmy-all, Since 2011, FCO Services has been developing the Government Secure Application Environment (GSAE) on a secure cloud computing platform to support UK government organisations.NEWS,weblink FCO Services pushes secure cloud platform, Guardian Government Computing, 21 July 2011, May 1, 2012, Say, Mark, For over 10 years, FCO Services has been working globally, to keep customer assets and information safe. FCO Services is a public sector organisation, it is not funded by Vote and has to rely on the income it produces to meet its costs, by providing services on a commercial basis to customers both in the UK and throughout the world. Its Accounting Officer and Chief Executive is accountable to the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs and to Parliament, for the organisation's performance and conduct.

Buildings

File:Foreign and India Offices, London, 1866 ILN.jpg|thumb|right|The western end of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's building in 1866, facing St. James's Park. It was then occupied by the Foreign and India Offices, while the Home and Colonial Offices occupied the WhitehallWhitehallAs well as embassies abroad, the FCO has premises within the UK:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building

{{anchor|Main Building}} (File:Cmglee London FCO Grand Staircase.jpg|thumb|upright|The Grand Staircase in September 2013)The Foreign and Commonwealth Office occupies a building which originally provided premises for four separate government departments: the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Home Office. Construction on the building began in 1861 and finished in 1868, and it was designed by the architect George Gilbert Scott.Foreign & Commonwealth Office History {{webarchive |url=https://web.archive.org/web/20120924111355weblink |date=24 September 2012}} Its architecture is in the Italianate style; Scott had initially envisaged a Gothic design, but Lord Palmerston, then Prime Minister, insisted on a classical style. English sculptors Henry Hugh Armstead and John Birnie Philip produced a number of allegorical figures ('Art', 'Law', 'Commerce', etc.) for the exterior.In 1925 the Foreign Office played host to the signing of the Locarno Treaties, aimed at reducing tension in Europe. The ceremony took place in a suite of rooms that had been designed for banqueting, which subsequently became known as the Locarno Suite.WEB,weblink PDF, Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Route, FCO, dead,weblink" title="web.archive.org/web/20120924111418weblink">weblink 24 September 2012, dmy-all, During the Second World War, the Locarno Suite's fine furnishings were removed or covered up, and it became home to a Foreign Office code-breaking department.Due to increasing numbers of staff, the offices became increasingly cramped and much of the fine Victorian interior was covered over—especially after the Second World War. In the 1960s, demolition was proposed, as part of major redevelopment plan for the area drawn up by architect Sir Leslie Martin. A subsequent public outcry prevented these proposals from ever being implemented. Instead, the Foreign Office became a Grade I listed building in 1970. In 1978, the Home Office moved to a new building, easing overcrowding.With a new sense of the building's historical value, it underwent a 17-year, £100 million restoration process, completed in 1997. The Locarno Suite, used as offices and storage since the Second World War, was fully restored for use in international conferences. The building is now open to the public each year over Open House Weekend.In 2014 refurbishment to accommodate all Foreign and Commonwealth Office employees into one building was started by Mace.WEB,weblink Mace wins £20m Whitehall Foreign Office refit, constructionenquirer.com, {{Gallery|lines=3Ceiling above the Foreign Office’s Grand Staircase, 2008The Grand Staircase, 2008The Locarno Suite in September 2013The Durbar Court at the former India Office, now part of the FCO}}

Devolution

International relations are handled centrally from Whitehall on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom and its dependencies. However, the devolved administrations also maintain an overseas presence in the European Union, the USA and China alongside British diplomatic missions. These offices aim to promote their own economies and ensure that devolved interests are taken into account in British foreign policy. Ministers from devolved administrations can attend international negotiations when agreed with the British Government e.g. EU fisheries negotiations.Scottish gains at Euro fish talks, Scottish Government, 16 December 2009 Similarly, ministers from the devolved administrations meet at approximately quarterly intervals through the Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe), chaired by the Foreign Secretary to "discuss matters bearing on devolved responsibilities that are under discussion within the European Union."{{citation needed|date=July 2015}}

See also

References

{{reflist|30em}}

External links

{{EB1911 Poster|Foreign Office}}
  • {{official websiteweblink}}
  • AV MEDIA,weblink How to Be Foreign Secretary, 1998, Cockerell, Michael, Television production, BBC,
  • AV MEDIA,weblink The Great Offices of State: Palace of Dreams, 2010, Cockerell, Michael, Television production, BBC,
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