The UK must look beyond its traditional allies and forge new partnerships with a crop of increasingly influential countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, James Cleverly said.
In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary, he argued that British diplomacy must adapt as the “center of gravity shifts geopolitically east and south.”
The UK can play a role in ensuring those emerging economies become the custodians of the rules-based international order, he said.
Relationships built over generations with allies such as the United States, France, Germany and Australia “are our greatest source of strength and the cornerstone of British democracy and diplomacy.”
“But that will not be enough to sustain the international order unless its principles and institutions have the support of the world beyond Europe and North America,” Cleverly said.
The nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America “will decide whether the international order will endure.”
Speaking at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Foreign Secretary said: “Of course, we continue to work more closely with those countries internationally who share our values…those traditional friends and allies who have stood shoulder to shoulder with us for many years. , many decades.
“But the point I’m also making is that we can’t just cling to the comfort blanket of perhaps our pre-existing friendships and alliances.
“We need to work, we need to graft, we need to make sure that we are having conversations with those countries that are also being courted by other philosophies and we need to sell the benefits.
“We need to be sellers and sell the benefits… about subscribing to international law, about using peaceful mechanisms for dispute resolution, about moving in a direction that embraces human rights and diversity and those things that are the cornerstones of our political philosophy.
“Not necessarily in an intimidating way, but in a persuasive way over decades, because that’s how we create change.”
Mr Cleverly called for long-term partnerships covering trade and aid, investment and expertise, and closer cultural ties, backed by cash from UK development finance and G7 funding streams.
“The main focus of the future powers that I am discussing is to ensure their own economic development and their own resilience against threats, including climate change, disease and terrorism,” he said.
“In all these fields and many others, our opportunity is to show that the UK can and will be a reliable, trusted and long-term partner and I am determined that we will make faith investments in the countries that will shape the future of the UK. world.”
He touted India as an example of a rapidly developing economy where there is “huge opportunity” as it has a “young, well-educated, dynamic and ambitious population” while at the same time having “a lot at stake in things “. like climate change.
“As the center of gravity shifts geopolitically to the east and south, India, among others, of course, is exactly the type of country where working closely together is to our mutual benefit and global benefit,” he said. .