Supporting reform and tackling conflict in the Middle East and North Africa
UK support to countries in the Middle East & North Africa continues to evolve in response to developments in the region. We continue to build upon on the Arab Partnership Initiative, which was set up in October 2010 and formally launched in 2011 following the momentous changes brought about by the Arab uprisings.
Our approach means we work in partnership with people across the region on three main areas:
- tackling the risk of conflict and responding to it;
- building capable, legitimate and inclusive institutions;
- enabling inclusive and sustainable economic growth and recovery.
We help deliver our political objectives with targeted technical assistance through the Arab Partnership Fund, the MENA Conflict Pool, and the expertise of the MENA Strategic Communications Team.
We support reform and stability in the Middle East and North Africa in several ways. In conjunction with our Embassies, we ensure that conflict and reform issues remain key themes in UK dialogue with foreign governments.
We also work within multilateral organisations to further our objectives. For example, we work with our partners to ensure that EU resources and support are correctly targeted. For example, we make sure that the approach agreed in 2012 - whereby countries making the most progress receiving additional technical support and funding – is being implemented. We are also working with EU colleagues on the current review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, to make sure EU assistance is able to be even more responsive to the situation and EU interests and values in each country.
We also work with our G7 partners, International Financial Institutions and regional partners through the Deauville Partnership. The Partnership, founded in 2011, supports reform in the region by providing access to a multi-million pound Transition Fund, supporting access to funding from International Financial Institutions and encouraging public-private sector cooperation. For reference, we maintain information on the UK’s 2013 Chairmanship of the Deauville Partnership and on 2013 events promoting the role of civil society.
We deliver UK bilateral funds through the Arab Partnership Fund and the MENA Conflict Pool to resolve conflict and stimulate economic and political development across the region.
The UK Government’s Arab Partnership (AP) supports the development of legitimate and inclusive institutions to improve governance and enable inclusive economic growth and reform. The total allocation for the Arab Partnership Fund for 2011-2015 is £166m. This includes £10 million for FY 14/15 for political reform through the Arab Partnership Participation Fund (APPF), managed by the FCO. This fund supports the development of stronger civil society, parliaments, media and judiciaries. £40 million for FY 14/15 is provided through the DFID-run Arab Partnership Economic Facility (APEF), and supports reforms that deliver jobs, boost economic growth and create effective and accountable institutions
With AP support, Morocco’s first MP constituency offices have been opened and a Council of Youth has been established to increase participation of civil associations and young people in political processes.
In Egypt, working with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, we have trained over 300 Egyptian journalists in balanced and accurate reporting and provided them with a space to publish stories anonymously.
Through AP regional programmes, supporting scholarships for outstanding individuals engaged in work to promote the rule of law in their country so they are able to improve the effectiveness and accountability of institutions, access to justice and freedom of expression.
AP regional programmes have also formed strong networks of women leaders who are able to share experiences and best practice.
Together with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Department for International Development (DFID), we run the MENA Conflict Pool, which has £70 million for FY 2014/15 to tackle conflict in the region. We invest in conflict prevention and early warning systems to reduce the effect of conflict on countries in the region. We also support the longer-term strengthening of security and justice institutions to increase the capacity of the local populations to resolve the conflicts which affect them.
In Bahrain, we have supported the establishment of the first independent police ombudsman in the Gulf, providing essential independent oversight of the police force.
Border watchtowers we built for the Lebanese Armed Forces were instrumental in helping the LAF deter an ISIL breakout into Christian and Shia villages in the Beka’a valley during fighting in August this year.
We are helping to reduce tensions between Syrian refugees and their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon through projects which deliver better educational and health facility capacity.
We are providing counter-IED (Improvised Explosive Device) training to the Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga in the Kurdistan region in order to increase the rate of detection and making safe of explosive devices and to reduce the number of civilian and military casualties.
In Jerusalem we are funding the Jerusalem Community Advocacy Network (JCAN), which assists and empowers Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to attain their legal, economic and social rights.
From April 2015, the Government’s £1bn Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), overseen by the National Security Council will replace the Conflict Pool. Under the CSSF, we will continue to address the short term effects of conflict whilst also patiently continuing our work to build the political, economic and security institutions that will bring enduring stability and ultimately prevent conflict re-occurring.
Read theupdating members of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the UK’s continuing efforts to support reform in the Middle East and North Africa.