This briefing has been prepared for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to support its evidence session on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Accounts 2009-10.

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The Department is responsible for ‘promoting British interests overseas and supporting our citizens and businesses across the Globe’.

In 2007, the then Government introduced Departmental Strategic Objectives 4 (DSOs) to the performance framework, designed to formulate and specifically measure departmental objectives. During 2009-10 the Department had eight Departmental Strategic Objectives: maintaining a global network; supporting the British economy; supporting British nationals abroad; supporting managed migration to Britain; countering terrorism and weapons proliferation; preventing and resolving conflict; promoting a low carbon high growth global economy; and develop effective international institutions above all the United Nations and the European Union.

In May 2010, the new Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP, announced that the Department’s priorities would be refined. He announced in a series of speeches on foreign policy that the Department would focus on supporting the British economy, protecting national security and aiding British citizens abroad. He emphasised five themes:

  • bringing strategic decision making about foreign policy, security policy and development together in a National Security Council;
  • the transatlantic alliance and our engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan;
  • building up British engagement beyond Europe and North America;
  • reform of international Institutions; and
  • upholding the highest values of our society.