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British government policy in sub-Saharan Africa under New Labour

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British government policy in Africa under Labour has been motivated by a combination of humanitarianism and self-interest. The policy has been shaped principally by the Department for International Development (DFID), but also by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and by Prime Minister Tony Blair himself, as he has become more interested in Africa issues. The main focus of the policy has been on poverty reduction and development. The approach has been multi-dimensional, aiming to tackle the principal obstacles to development such as conflict, HIV, debt, governance and trade barriers. The UK has sought to increase its leverage in Africa by working multilaterally with its allies and through the UN, the World Bank and the EU. But the policy has been hampered by the inherent difficulty of promoting sound development policies in weak states, by a lack of UK leverage to affect change, and by a UK preference for statist solutions. Strategic and commercial objectives pursued by the FCO and the prime minister have sometimes appeared as being at odds with the developmental objectives of DFID. Post-9/11 concerns have reinforced the UK's motivation for dealing with Africa's problems, particularly the problems of weak and failed states. But western policies related to the war on terror may give rise to new contradictions and complicate the UK's developmental efforts in Africa.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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