Libmonster ID: UK-1201
Author(s) of the publication: O. S. KULKOVA


Post-graduate student of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The history of relations between Great Britain and the countries of Africa goes back more than one century. After a relative decline in interest in Africa during the Cold War era, by the mid-1990s, the United Kingdom was once again turning to the continent, which was associated with the accession of Tony Blair to the post of Prime Minister in 1997, who brought new Labour to power. The focus on Africa continued under Gordon Brown, who succeeded Blair. Even in the midst of an acute financial crisis, the UK is committed to doing its part to solve Africa's problems.

The end of the XX - beginning of the XXI centuries was a time of intensifying the struggle for access to African mineral resources. Tony Blair was able to draw the attention of the world community to the problems and prospects of this continent. He believed that the UK should actively shape the international agenda. The ideas of social justice and responsibility were brought to the world stage by New Labour 1.

Labour politicians and ideologues (T. Blair himself, his first Foreign Secretary R. Cook, diplomat R. Cooper, etc.) proclaimed a "new internationalism", according to which the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States cannot and should not even be observed in cases of "threats to international peace and security" (such as genocide,genocide, genocide). R. Cook declared his commitment to an "ethical approach" in the implementation of foreign policy, which, however, for a number of reasons began to be perceived as political hypocrisy. So, he came into conflict with the UK's interest in arms sales to Africa. In violation of the UN embargo, the British company Sandline supplied weapons to Sierra Leone during the conflict in the country, and the company B. A. I., through a subsidiary in South Africa, supplied weapons to the Museveni regime in Uganda, where they were used to suppress opposition demonstrations, in connection with which the official London imposed economic sanctions on the country 2.

A number of Russian researchers note that the importance of the imperial element in British foreign policy has been steadily increasing since the late 1990s, 3 and Blair's diplomacy in Africa was inspired by examples from the country's imperial history.

The new British ideology in relation to Africa consists of two components. The first is a call for a new partnership with Africa, a kind of "moral contract" between the UK and the African continent. According to this" contract", African states should take responsibility for the development of their countries, and the global community should help them in implementing certain projects, provided that they follow the path of peace, democracy, and economic liberalization. The second component is the permissibility and desirability of British and international intervention in the internal affairs of an African country in the event of a humanitarian crisis, systematic human rights violations, or a "weak" regime unable to enforce law and order on its territory. This is dictated by London's desire to "minimize the damage" felt in these countries.4


Great Britain's African policy is implemented through its participation in the Commonwealth of Nations and the establishment of close bilateral relations with a number of African countries (mainly Anglophone, former colonies). The Blair government relied on those African leaders who, according to London, were sympathetic to the views of "new Labour", the ideas of the" third way"; at the same time, they tried in one way or another to" neutralize " leaders who acted contrary to British views and interests.

Labour has begun to reform the Commonwealth with the aim of turning it into a political and economic bloc with all the necessary attributes. Commonwealth summits, including those held in various African countries, have become forums that gather grain-

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potential investors from many developed countries. In recent years, there have been several cases of suspension of participation of members of the Commonwealth for clear violations of democratic norms of government, for example, in the case of Zimbabwe in 2002, which left the Commonwealth in 2003).

The Commonwealth of Nations is an association of 53 independent states, including 18 African ones - Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, as well as Cameroon and Mozambique, which became its members in 2014. 1995 The Uganda Summit on November 23-25, 2007 considered Rwanda's application for membership in the Commonwealth. About 1.7 billion people live in the CIS countries. people (1/3 of the world's population).

New Labour sought to show that the UK plays a key role in solving pressing transnational problems, and therefore increased its assistance to third world countries (primarily African countries). According to the UK Department for International Development, official development assistance (ODA) to the UK has tripled (from £ 2.1 billion in 1997 to £ 6.85 billion in 2006).5. It should be noted, however, that much of this assistance was provided through debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Countries Assistance Initiative. By 2007, the debt of $ 38 billion to 21 countries had been fully written off. Great Britain was the only power that expressed its willingness to give up all the debts of the poorest countries (primarily African ones)and began to implement this plan.

What is new is the UK's desire to develop joint approaches to Africa with its EU partners.

During London's presidency of the Group of Eight, Blair actively advocated the adoption of a plan to combat poverty in Africa. Thanks to him, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, it was decided to allocate an additional $ 50 billion annually (of which $ 25 billion went to Africa), and the debt of 38 of the world's poorest countries was written off 55 billion. 7 However, the goals set at Gleneagles have not yet been achieved, and their implementation has slowed down in the context of the global financial crisis.

In tables 1 and 2, compiled from data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)8 shows the volume of official development assistance to Africa in general and Sub-Saharan Africa provided by the G7 (i.e., the G8 without Russia) and separately by the United Kingdom.


In 2004, Tony Blair established a special commission for Africa to develop new ways to address poverty on the continent.9

The activities of the Commission for Africa reflected such a paradox of London's African policy as the increased attention to African issues in the speeches of British politicians and the simultaneous reduction of the British presence on the continent (diplomatic missions in Lesotho, Swaziland, Mali and Madagascar were closed), the staff of departments dealing with Africa was reduced by 20% by the beginning of 2005. As the Independent noted, the Foreign Office was losing touch with African diasporas and non-governmental organizations in the UK working on Africa. 10

The Commission chaired by Tony Blair included, in addition to a number of cabinet members, 17 public and political figures-members of the governments of China, Canada and several African countries, representatives of the African business elite, African employees of the UN system, as well as musician Bob Geldof, who gave Blair the idea of creating the Commission. Almost all the Africans on the Commission represented Anglophone Africa, worked for British companies or studied in England.

Table 1

G7 ODA (in millions of US dollars, at current prices)





Africa as a whole




Sub-Saharan Africa




Table 2

Aid and UK debt relief to Africa (in millions of US dollars, current prices)





Africa as a whole








Written-off debts




Sub-Saharan Africa








Written-off debts




page 36

The Commission's work has been criticized by many African and European politicians. At the same time, she also put forward important ideas. For example, the quality of aid to Africa can be improved by channeling it through multilateral organizations, as well as by eliminating the practice of "bound" aid.11

However, many of Blair's hopes were dashed. Subsidies to rich countries for their own cotton and sugar production have not been stopped, as proposed by the Commission, agricultural trade has not been reformed, and access to developed countries ' markets has not been made easier for Africans.

As a result, the Commission's activities did not cause a significant international response, and the Commission itself was disbanded at the end of September 2005.

During the Blair premiership, the quality of British diplomacy in Africa changed. There was a turnover of officials dealing with African issues in the Foreign Office (there are several departments dealing with African issues in the British Foreign Office), and a reduction in staff and funding for the relevant departments.12

In 1997, Blair established the Department for International Development (DFID)* Independent of the Foreign Office, as a ministry under the leadership of Clare Short. In 2001, its budget exceeded that of the Foreign Ministry. African issues have become a priority in the work of the DMR.

At the same time, some British researchers noted that the creation of this agency detracted from the importance of traditional diplomacy and politics, and its activities were largely aimed at solving humanitarian and economic problems in Africa.13

Nevertheless, the efforts of C. Short and the DMR led to the fact that their vision of the African development strategy prevailed in the Cabinet and outweighed the views of the Foreign Office. Without the DMR, all of Blair's pro-African rhetoric during his second term would have been devoid of real substance.14


Great Britain and key Black African countries (such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania, etc.) are linked by the latter's dependence on British investment, as well as on its financial and technical assistance. London is particularly interested in developing stable relations with Nigeria, which has large oil reserves and is the second largest market (after South Africa) for the UK on the continent.

Blair visited Africa many times during his premiership. In February 2002, he visited Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. His visit to Senegal on February 9, 2002 was symbolic: for the first time, the British Prime Minister set foot on the territory of the former French colony in Africa. On that day, Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac made joint statements about the need to increase aid to African countries. This illustrated another innovation in British policy in Africa : the desire to establish a partnership with France and its former colonies as part of the initiative launched at the Franco-British summit in Saint-Malo on 4 December 1998.Its goal is to harmonize African politics and strengthen cooperation between London and Paris on the continent. 15

In March 2004, for the first time since Churchill in 1943, a British Prime Minister visited Libya. Blair's talks with Gaddafi marked the beginning of a significant improvement in relations between the two countries, which should be attributed to the undoubted achievements of his African policy. Blair's visits to Sudan and Ethiopia followed in October 2004. Financial assistance to Nigeria increased to $ 100 million in 2004 from $ 50 million in 2003.16

In 2004, there was a major scandal in Anglo-African relations: according to some reports, London was involved in a plot to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich country17.

In 2005, there were complications in Anglo-Kenyan relations. The Kenyan government has withdrawn a number of large contracts from British companies following tenders. From London, there were loud accusations of corruption of the Kenyan authorities 18.

Tension continued to build between London and the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

On May 30, 2007, T. Blair's "farewell" tour of Africa began. He visited Libya again. At the meeting with Gaddafi, he noted Libya's contribution to the fight against international terrorism. The parties signed agreements on cooperation in the field of defense and a protocol of intent on signing an agreement on the extradition of criminals. Libya has expressed its intention to buy missiles and air defense systems from the UK, and London has pledged to assist Tripoli in training personnel for the Libyan army, as well as in establishing the production of certain types of weapons in Libya. During Blair's visit, Libya signed a $ 900 million contract with British Petroleum to conduct hydrocarbon exploration in the territory of the Jamahiriya and its offshore zone.19

In Sierra Leone, Tony Blair met with President A. T. Kabba and President E. Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, discussing the challenges of peacekeeping on the continent and the interaction of the UN, the EU and the African Union20. In South Africa, Blair delivered a keynote speech on Africa, and was received at home by Mandela, who called him "a true friend of Africa." 21

* Department for International Development (DFID).

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In the final years of Tony Blair's premiership, the British Government has come to realize that providing aid to Africa solely on tough economic terms is often counterproductive. From now on, London intends to link aid to concrete results of the implementation of a long-term poverty reduction plan for each individual state.

The British government stands for peace in Africa, but in recent years the volume of arms exports from Great Britain to the continent has almost quadrupled and reached, according to the Observer newspaper, a record high of 1 billion pounds. 22 At the same time, weapons were supplied to those countries to which London itself made serious claims in the past year. human rights protection plan. Thus, R. Cook's ideas about an "ethical" foreign policy and limiting arms sales have faded into oblivion.

In 2005, the United Kingdom, which is chronically short of doctors and "imports" them mainly from Anglophone Africa, decided to compensate for the outflow of medical personnel by providing professional training for Africans on the ground and delivering medicines. Until 2011, the UK must spend 100 million pounds on this purpose. Every year, about 70 thousand high-class medical specialists leave Africa, without which it is difficult to cope with AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis on the continent. 23


In June 2007, the British Queen accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was replaced by fellow rival Gordon Brown.

While Blair was actively engaged in foreign policy, Brown, while still serving as Treasury Secretary, focused on domestic policy and problems of the national economy, as well as financial and economic aspects of foreign policy. He actively worked on the problem of London writing off the debts of 24 African countries. In January 2005, while visiting Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa, Brown put forward his plan to help Africa, which focused on forgiving debt to the poorest countries and easing barriers to goods from the developing world. He also proposed a new plan to fight AIDS 25.

With the arrival of Brown as prime minister, experts predicted that his foreign policy" skate " will be Africa. One of his stated goals is to fight child poverty on the continent.

Brown appeals to the values of the nation, talks about the greatness and uniqueness of Great Britain. This greatness, he believes, was also reflected in the way Britain has behaved in the past in relation to conquered countries. "The days when Britain should have apologized for its colonial history are over," he declared in 2005, speaking in Tanzania during a four-country tour of Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Brown, the British "should be proud of the empire."26 His speech was a response to South African President T. Mbeki's harsh remarks about the role of the British colonial empire in Africa and the activities of W. Churchill, in particular.27

In his speech "What it means to be British" at the Fabian Society conference in January 2006, Gordon Brown noted: "... by understanding what it means to be British in the current, post-Imperial stage, we will be able to establish closer ties with developing countries, in particular African ones", and the Britain of the future "will offer a new global approach ... to ensure that we are able to the richest States have finally fulfilled their obligations to the poorest. " 28

In December 2007, the UK decided to double its contribution to the African Development Fund (AFD), considered one of the largest investment donors to Africa's poorest countries, to 417 million pounds (590 million euros), in line with the African debt reduction initiative proposed at the G8 summit in 2005.29

The continuity of Blair's African policy can be seen in Brown's approach to Zimbabwe. Under Blair, the Mugabe regime was sanctioned. On July 18, 2007, Mugabe announced that he had prevented a British attempt to stage a military coup in his country30. London continued to exert intense diplomatic pressure on Zimbabwe's neighboring countries to support new sanctions against the Mugabe regime. This led to a noticeable cooling of English-South African relations.

The EU - African Union representative Summit held in Lisbon on December 8-9, 2007, was almost disrupted by Brown's refusal to participate, as Mugabe was invited to attend. This provoked a negative reaction from a number of African leaders, including Zambian President L. Mwanawasa. Pan-African Parliament leader G. Mongella (Tanzania)accused Brown of trying to" manipulate "Africa and said that" arm-twisting " is not the best way to solve the problems of a crisis state, referring to Zimbabwe. 31

In December 2007, Zimbabwe began negotiations with the opposition to form a coalition Government. In September 2008, a new turn of events was expressed in the fact that in the agreement signed in Harare to resolve the internal political conflict, both the authorities and the opposition of Zimbabwe demanded:-

page 38

Whether the UK should meet its obligations to finance the purchase of land from white farmers, which were already stipulated in the Lancaster Agreement*. London's refusal to pay these funds was one of the reasons for the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Previously, only the Zimbabwean authorities demanded that these payments be resumed. 32 On February 11, 2009, the country's new Prime Minister, opposition leader M. Tsvangirai, was sworn in. However, London is skeptical about the prospects of the new government.33

Brown is also concerned about the problem of massive human rights violations in Darfur (Sudan). He has repeatedly called for an immediate end to violence and the accelerated deployment of UN peacekeeping forces there.34

Brown said that London and its partners are ready for new sanctions against any of the parties to the Darfur conflict that will hinder a peaceful settlement. The Prime Minister also expressed his readiness to assist in the country's economic recovery after the political settlement of the conflict.35

The UK has taken an important initiative in relation to Nigeria. During President Umar Yar'Adua's visit to London in July 2008, the United Kingdom and Nigeria announced that they would form a security training group to help address lawlessness in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. Britain also pledged to help create a "robust accounting and security system" for petroleum products to combat oil smuggling, which at the time stood at 1.5 million barrels. on day 36.

The UK's political and economic relations with Libya continue to develop in a positive way.


Britain's foreign policy, particularly in the African direction, is currently determined by the task of overcoming the threats of the global financial crisis, the starting point of which is considered to be the autumn of 2008. The economic situation in the UK is very difficult, a recession is recorded, and the unemployment rate is high. At this difficult stage, Prime Minister G. Brown is not only taking measures to save the national economy, but also acts as one of the architects of the new global financial system.

The first G20 summit was held in Washington on November 14, 2008. He called for reform of the IMF, the World Bank, and the United Nations. The IMF, in his opinion, should serve as an "early warning system" for the global economy. He said that the World Bank should help developing countries, and also suggested creating an international reserve "squad" of volunteers ready to help countries such as Rwanda recover from global crises.37

In February 2009, Mr. Brown began negotiations with international creditors (the IMF, the World Bank) on ways to open loans to developing countries, which, if approved by the G20, could inject billions of dollars into the economies of countries in need.38

A month later, in March, in London, he held talks with a number of African leaders and ministers. African politicians demanded an increase in funding (an additional $ 50 billion). USD)39 and facilitate access to the resources of global financial institutions.

On April 2, 2009, the G20 gathered for its 2nd summit in London. They discussed, in particular, measures to provide assistance to the poorest States. At the summit, Brown sought reassurance that the commitments made by developed countries to Africa in Gleneagles 2005 and beyond would be respected. However, UN experts fear that aid will be cut by at least $ 4.5 billion, which already threatens the poverty of more than 50 million people** and will push the fight against poverty back to three years ago.40

This summit was attended by: President of South Africa K. Motlante as a representative of the continent, Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi as Chairman of NEPAD and Head of the African Union Commission J. Ping.

Africa has been given the opportunity to participate in defining the contours of a new economic world order. The continent's representatives focused on issues such as finance, maintaining open markets, and increasing funds from the multilateral development banks*** and the IMF.41 Africa's priority is the speedy conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiations on global trade liberalization. The British political establishment is also actively advocating for this.

At the April 2 summit, Britain launched an initiative to sell a portion of the IMF's $ 5 billion to $ 15 billion gold reserve to boost aid to African countries.42 London also proposed creating a new multibillion-dollar "rapid social response fund" under the auspices of the World Bank to support "the most vulnerable on the planet."

* The Agreement was concluded on December 21, 1979. It defined the principles of political life in independent Zimbabwe, the procedure for transferring land from the white minority to the black majority on a voluntary basis and for compensation paid by the British Government.

** According to the UK DMR, this figure will increase to 90 million people by 2010.

*** Multilateral Development Banks. For example, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, etc. (approx. ed.).

page 39

people" and decided to contribute 200 million ft. st. This money will be used to provide children with food, provide medical care to pregnant women and finance "food for work" programs. Brown also suggested creating a so-called "global poverty prevention system".

The crisis has already taken a serious toll on Africa. According to ActionAid, Africa's revenues will fall by $ 49 billion in 2009. compared to 2007.43, mainly due to lower export revenues and reduced aid to rich countries in recession.

* * *

Summing up the review of the UK's African policy over the past 11 years, we can note the following.

Blair's African heritage has proved highly controversial. He succeeded in reducing Africa's debt burden, but the promises made at Gleneagles were not fulfilled. Blair has not been very successful in resolving the conflict in Darfur. So far, the confrontation between Great Britain and Zimbabwe that began under him has not stopped. At the same time, Blair put the solution of African problems on the agenda of international forums, improved relations with long-standing opponents (Libya), and the British peacekeeping operation in Sierra Leone became his true "finest hour".

During Brown's premiership, the UK's engagement with African countries has become more focused on economic issues, development issues, and conflict resolution. Although there are still a number of unresolved issues in British relations with the continent, even in the most difficult conditions of the crisis, the UK does not abandon its voluntary mission of protecting the interests of Africa, which, in my opinion, is the key to fruitful British-African cooperation.

Stephens Ph. 1 Tony Blair: The price of leadership. L., Politico's. 2004, P. 145.

2 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. March 17, 2006 AF. Sheet 2.

3 See, for example, Terentyev A. A. The" Torian " foreign policy of Tony Blair. 2005, pp. 46-54.

4 The concept of "damage limitation" was introduced by J. R. R. Tolkien. Mayall (1986), also used by P. Williams in his work "Britain and Africa after the Cold War. Beyond damage limitation?" / Ed. by I. Taylor and P. Williams. London, 2004.

5 Keeping our promises on the MDGs: DFID's progress so far. Aid, Trade, Growth & Global Partnership -

6 Ibidem.

7 Active diplomacy for a changing world. The UK's international priorities. March 2006, Cm. 6762. P. 36 -

8 Data from the OECD database "DAC2a ODA Disbursements" -

Vines A., Cargill T. 9 The New Labour Policy in Africa: coherence or Disorder? // Asia and Africa today. 2006, No. 6, pp. 53-56.

Doieden R. 10 Why we need to understand Africa // The Independent. July 2, 2006.

11 "Tied aid" provides not only what projects will be financed, but also where materials for the implementation of these projects should be imported from (for example, from the donor's factories). The level of" connectedness " of assistance is a key indicator of its effectiveness. According to 2005 data, linking aid increases the average cost for recipients by 15 to 30%, and by more than 40% in the case of food aid.

12 Equatorial and Southern Africa Divisions, Pan-African Policy Division (whose staff is directly involved in the Africa Conflict Prevention Programme), Sudan Division (all listed divisions are part of the Europe and Globalisation Department). The Political department also has a Middle East and North Africa division -

Vines A., Cargill T. 13 Edict op., p. 55.

Porteous T. 14 British government policy in sub-Saharan Africa under New Labour // International Affairs. 2005, v. 81, No. 2, p. 284.

15 St. Malo: Britain and France working together in Africa -

16 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. November 17, 2004, AF. Sheet 9.

17 Ibid., 19 November 2004 AF. Sheet 4; 18 November 2005 AF. Sheet 2.

18 Ibid., 7 February 2005 AF. Sheet 2; 1 August 2005 AF. Sheet 2.

Kudelev V. V. 19 The situation in Libya: May 2007 - -06-07b. htm#top

20 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. May 31, 2007 AF. Sheet 2.

21 Ibid., 1 June 2007, AF. Sheet 2.

22 Ibid., 14 June 2005, AF. Sheet 6.

23 Ibid., 22 August 2005, AF. Sheet 8.

Dmitrieva O. 24 Brown took Britain without a fight / / Rossiyskaya Gazeta. June 27, 2007 -

25 Pulse of the planet... ITAR-TASS. January 14, 2005 AF. Sheet 2.

Skosyrev V. 26 The Scottish Sphinx reveals its secret // Nezavisimaya gazeta. May 28, 2007 - - 8/21_london.html

Brogan B. 27 It's time to celebrate the Empire, says Brown // Daily Mail. 15 January, 2005 -

Brown G. 28 Decree. op.

29 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. December 5, 2007 AF. Sheet 7.

30 Ibid. July 19, 2007, AF. Sheet 2.

Russell B. 31 African leaders accuse Brown of 'arm-twisting' // The Independent. 22 September, 2007.

32 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. September 16, 2008 AF. Sheet 4.

MacGreal C., Tran M. 33 Tsvangirai sworn in as prime minister of Zimbabwe // The Guardian. 11 February 2009.

34 Report of the Secretary-General on the deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, S/2007/759, 24 December 2007 and S/2008/659, 17 October 2008 -

Brown G. 35 Statement on Darfur. 28 October 2007 -

36 Pulse of the planet. ITAR-TASS. July 17, 2008 AF. Sheet 3; July 18, 2008 AF. Sheet 3.

Samer P. 37 Gordon Brown warns on global financial crisis. 7 April 2008 - ncial-crisis.html

38 Britain's Brown in credit talks for developing world. 19 February 2009 -

39 African leaders petition G20 for more funds. 17 March 2009 -

Elliott L., WintourP. 40 Rebuilding the global economy at G20: it's a lot to do in just one day -

41 African leaders lay out demands for London Summit -

Zaitsev B. 42 Special Representative of Great Britain on the role and tasks of the summit / / Compass. 2009, N 13. p. 49.

43 Where does it hurt? The impact of the financial crisis on developing countries. Action Aid Report. P. 1 -


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