The UK will hold a General Election on 12 December 2019. Clearly, debates around the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, a matter on which UNA-UK remains neutral, will play a significant part in the national conversation. However, this poll, which will decide what policies the United Kingdom pursues for the foreseeable future, is far too important to be limited to any one issue.
It is vital that parties and candidates address the range of – increasingly global – issues that impact our day-to-day lives: from our international network of trade and diplomacy, to climate change: surely the defining issue of our time.
UNA-UK has longstanding policy positions on many issues which merit significant attention in the national debate, including on climate change, gender equality, prevention of atrocities, sexual exploitation and sexual violence by UN peacekeepers and sustainable development. We also hope for informed debate on the need to proactively ban lethal autonomous weapons systems and put human rights before profit when it comes to arms exports – an urgent requirement exposed by the actions of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
We urge politicians of all parties to make use of our resources and carefully consider these vital issues, and we urge our members and supporters to quiz their candidates on their approaches to them. We will be releasing a canvassing toolkit in the days to come to make sure that happens.
We also feel that 2020 is a make or break year for our international system. It will see the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, crucial summits on nuclear disarmament and climate change, and further debates between populists and their critics over the very value of multilateralism. 75 years ago the UK, then a very different kind of power, made a strong case for the creation of the United Nations. Similar bold leadership to reform our global system, and truly make it deliver for all, is called for once again. To this end we will be writing to the leaders of all parliamentary political parties and asking them to outline their strategy for the United Nations.
UNA-UK would also like to see parties commit to three realistic and achievable concrete actions on peacekeeping, nuclear disarmament and on human rights which, in addition to their inherent value, would radically improve global perceptions of the UK and amplify the UK’s influence in international forums.
With a focus on inequality, this report is the sixth in a series of UNA-UK publications on the post-2015 development agenda.