- The Grand Staircase
- The Grand Locarno Room
- The Durbar Court at the former India Office, now part of the FCDO
- The Muse Staircase
FCDO Main Building in London, seen from Whitehall
|Formed||1782(as the Foreign Office)|
|Headquarters||King Charles Street|
|Annual budget||£1.1bn (current) & £0.1bn (capital) in 2015–16|
|This article is part of a series on|
|Politics of the United Kingdom|
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It was created in 2020 through the merger of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DFID).The FCO, itself created in 1968 by the merger of the Foreign Office (FO) and the Commonwealth Office, was responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide.
The head of the FCDO is the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, commonly abbreviated to "Foreign Secretary". This is regarded as one of the four most prestigious positions in the Cabinet – the Great Offices of State – alongside those of Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary.
The FCDO is managed from day to day by a civil servant, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who also acts as the Head of Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service. This position is held by Sir Philip Barton, who took office on 2 September 2020.
According to the FCDO website, the department's key responsibilities (as of 2020) are as follows:
In addition to the above responsibilities, the FCDO is responsible for the British Overseas Territories.This arrangement has been subject to criticism in the UK and in the overseas territories. For example, the Chief Minister of Anguilla, Victor Banks, said: "We are not foreign; neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect". There have been numerous suggestions on ways to improve the relationship between the overseas territories and the UK. Suggestions have included setting up a dedicated department to handle relations with the overseas territories, and the absorption of the OTD in the Cabinet Office, thus affording the overseas territories with better connections to the centre of government.
The FCDO Ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon. Dominic Raab MP||Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs||Strategy Directorate; national security; intelligence; honours; Europe; all major spending decisions, and overall delivery and management of the 0.7% of gross national income spending for Official Development Assistance (ODA); working with and supporting international partners on the global response to COVID-19; Deputising for the Prime Minister.|
|The Rt Hon. James Cleverly MP||Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa||Middle East and North Africa conflict, humanitarian issues, human security; CHASE (Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department); Stabilisation Unit; defence and international security; Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OCSE) and Council of Europe; Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF); safeguarding; counter terrorism.|
|The Rt Hon. The Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park PC||Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment (Jointly with DEFRA)||International climate change, environment and conservation, biodiversity; oceans; Oceania; Blue Belt; COVID-19 issues related to animal welfare; agri-food trade (for negotiations); forestry policy: domestic and international; International Whaling Commission; international oceans; illegal wildlife trade; animal welfare; green recovery; trade including standards, market access and exports, geographical indicators; lead for Forestry Commission; House of Lords Minister for Environment, including Environment Bill.|
|Nigel Adams MP||Minister of State for Asia||East Asia and South East Asia; economic diplomacy; trade (including Trade for Development); Economics Unit; Prosperity Fund; communications; soft power, including British Council, BBC World Service and scholarships; third-country agreements; consular; global Travel Advice; repatriations policy and operations related to COVID-19; parliamentary relations.|
|The Rt Hon. The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon||Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth||South Asia; Commonwealth; UN and multilateral; governance and democracy; open societies and anti-corruption; human rights, including Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI); treaty policy and practice; sanctions; departmental operations: human resources and estates; COVID-19 HR issues; multilateral duties to the UN and the Commonwealth related to COVID-19.|
|James Duddridge MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Africa||Sub-Saharan Africa; economic development; oversight of international financial institutions; CDC (UK government's development finance institution); research and evidence; medical procurement; wider supply chains.|
|Wendy Morton MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas||East and South-East Europe (including Gibraltar and Akrotiri & Dhekelia); Central Asia; Americas (including the Falklands); health, global health security, neglected tropical diseases; water and sanitation; nutrition; global health including global work on COVID-19 vaccines; therapeutics and diagnostics, and multilateral health organisations including WHO; the Global Fund, GAVI (the Vaccine Alliance); cruises and contact with the cruise ship industry.|
|Vacant||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development||Overseas Territories (except Falklands and Gibraltar) and Polar Regions; Caribbean; children, youth and education (including girls' education); gender equality, and sexual and reproductive health and rights; inclusive societies (LGBT, civil society, disability, ageing, social protection, Leave No One Behind); Global Partnerships and Sustainable Development Goals; departmental operations: finance and protocol.|
|History of English and British government departments with responsibility for foreign affairs|
and those with responsibility for the colonies, dominions and the Commonwealth
| Northern Department |
| Foreign Office |
| Foreign and Commonwealth Office |
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office since 2020
| Southern Department |
| Colonial Office |
| Home Office |
| War Office |
| War and Colonial Office |
| Colonial Office |
| Colonial Office |
| Commonwealth Office |
| Southern Department |
| Dominions Office |
| Commonwealth Relations Office |
|.|| India Office |
| India Office |
The Foreign Office was formed in March 1782 by combining the Southern and Northern Departments of the Secretary of State, each of which covered both foreign and domestic affairs in their parts of the Kingdom. The two departments' foreign affairs responsibilities became the Foreign Office, whilst their domestic affairs responsibilities were assigned to the Home Office. The Home Office is technically the senior.
During the 19th century, it was not infrequent for the Foreign Office to approach The Times newspaper and ask for continental intelligence, which was often superior to that conveyed by official sources.Examples of journalists who specialized in foreign affairs and were well connected to politicians included: Henry Southern, Valentine Chirol, Harold Nicolson, and Robert Bruce Lockhart.
During the First World War, the Arab Bureau was set up within the British Foreign Office as a section of the Cairo Intelligence Department. During the early cold war an important department was the Information Research Department, set up to counter Soviet propaganda and infiltration. The Foreign Office hired its first woman diplomat, Monica Milne, in 1946.
The FCO was formed on 17 October 1968, from the merger of the short-lived Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office.The Commonwealth Office had been created only in 1966, by the merger of the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office, the Commonwealth Relations Office having been formed by the merger of the Dominions Office and the India Office in 1947—with the Dominions Office having been split from the Colonial Office in 1925.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office held responsibility for international development issues between 1970 and 1974, and again between 1979 and 1997.
The National Archives website contains a Government timeline to show the departments responsible for Foreign Affairs from 1945.
From 1997, international development became the responsibility of the separate Department for International Development.
When David Miliband took over as Foreign Secretary in June 2007, he set in hand a review of the FCO's strategic priorities. One of the key messages of these discussions was the conclusion that the existing framework of ten international strategic priorities, dating from 2003, was no longer appropriate. Although the framework had been useful in helping the FCO plan its work and allocate its resources, there was agreement that it needed a new framework to drive its work forward.
The new strategic framework consists of three core elements:
In August 2005, a report by management consultant group Collinson Grant was made public by Andrew Mackinlay. The report severely criticised the FCO's management structure, noting:
The Foreign Office commissioned the report to highlight areas which would help it achieve its pledge to reduce spending by £87 million over three years. In response to the report being made public, the Foreign Office stated it had already implemented the report's recommendations.
In 2009, Gordon Brown created the position of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the FCO. The first science adviser was David C. Clary.
On 25 April 2010, the department apologised after The Sunday Telegraph obtained a "foolish" document calling for the upcoming September visit of Pope Benedict XVI to be marked by the launch of "Benedict-branded" condoms, the opening of an abortion clinic and the blessing of a same-sex marriage.
In 2012, the Foreign Office was criticised by Gerald Steinberg of the Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor, saying that the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development provided more than £500,000 in funding to Palestinian NGOs which he said "promote political attacks on Israel". In response, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said "we are very careful about who and what we fund. The objective of our funding is to support efforts to achieve a two-state solution. Funding a particular project for a limited period of time does not mean that we endorse every single action or public comment made by an NGO or by its employees."
In September 2012, the FCO and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding on diplomatic cooperation, which promotes the co-location of embassies, the joint provision of consular services, and common crisis response. The project has been criticised for further diminishing the UK's influence in Europe.
In 2011, the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, announced the government's intention to a number of new diplomatic posts in order to enhance the UK's overseas network.As such, eight new embassies and six new consulates were opened around the world.
On 16 June 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the merger of the FCO with the Department for International Development.This was following the decision in the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle to give cross-departmental briefs to all junior ministers in the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office. The merger, which created the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, took place in September 2020 with a stated aim of ensuring that aid is spent "in line with the UK's priorities overseas". The merger was criticised by three former prime ministers – Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and David Cameron – with Cameron saying that it would mean "less respect for the UK overseas". The Chief Executive of Save the Children, Kevin Watkins, called it "reckless, irresponsible and a dereliction of UK leadership" that "threatens to reverse hard-won gains in child survival, nutrition and poverty".
Following a prior announcement by the then Foreign Secretary William Hague, the FCO opened the Diplomatic Academy in February 2015.The new centre, opened by the Duke of Cambridge, was established in order to create a cross-government centre of excellence for all civil servants working on international issues. The Diplomatic Academy serves to broaden the FCO's network and engaged in more collaborative work with academic and diplomatic partners.
The FCDO, through its core departmental budget, funds projects which are in line with its policy priorities outlined in its Single Departmental Plan.This funding includes both Official Development Assistance (ODA), and non-ODA funds. The funds are used for a wide range of projects and serve to support traditional diplomatic activities.
The FCDO plays a key role in delivering two, major UK government funds which work to support the government's National Security Strategy and Aid Strategy.
The FCDO also supports a number of academic funds:
In 2021, the UK government announced its intention to cut its overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5% of GNIdespite UK legislation against such a move. These cuts, amounting to GBP 4 billion, reduced funding for humanitarian intervention by 44% in places like Yemen and Syria. It also cut funding for the fight against polio, malaria and HIV/AIDS. Funding for girls education worldwide was also reduced by 25%.
In April 2006, a new executive agency was established, FCO Services (now FCDO Services), to provide corporate service functions.It moved to Trading Fund status in April 2008, so that it had the ability to provide services similar to those it already offers to the FCDO to other government departments and even to outside businesses.
It is accountable to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, and provides secure support services to the FCDO, other government departments and foreign governments and bodies with which the UK has close links.
Since 2011, FCDO Services has been developing the Government Secure Application Environment (GSAE) on a secure cloud computing platform to support UK government organisations.It also manages the UK National Authority for Counter Eavesdropping (UK NACE) which helps protect UK assets from physical, electronic and cyber attack.
For over 10 years, FCDO Services has been working globally, to keep customer assets and information safe. FCDO Services is a public sector organisation, it is not funded by the public and has to rely on the income it produces to meet its costs, by providing services on a commercial basis to customers both in the UK and throughout the world. Its Accounting Officer and Chief Executive is accountable to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and to Parliament, for the organisation's performance and conduct.
As well as embassies abroad, the FCDO has premises within the UK:
The FCO formerly also used the following building:
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office occupies a building which originally provided premises for four separate government departments: the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Home Office. Construction on the building began in 1861 and finished in 1868, on the plot of land bounded by Whitehall, King Charles Street, Horse Guards Road and Downing Street. The building was designed by the architect George Gilbert Scott.Its architecture is in the Italianate style; Scott had initially envisaged a Gothic design, but Lord Palmerston, then Prime Minister, insisted on a classical style. The English sculptors Henry Hugh Armstead and John Birnie Philip produced a number of allegorical figures ("Art", "Law", "Commerce", etc.) for the exterior.
In 1925 the Foreign Office played host to the signing of the Locarno Treaties, aimed at reducing tension in Europe. The ceremony took place in a suite of rooms that had been designed for banqueting, which subsequently became known as the Locarno Suite.During the Second World War, the Locarno Suite's fine furnishings were removed or covered up, and it became home to a Foreign Office code-breaking department.
Due to increasing numbers of staff, the offices became increasingly cramped and much of the fine Victorian interior was covered over—especially after the Second World War. In the 1960s, demolition was proposed, as part of major redevelopment plan for the area drawn up by the architect Sir Leslie Martin. I listed building in 1970. In 1978, the Home Office moved to a new building, easing overcrowding.A subsequent public outcry prevented these proposals from ever being implemented. Instead, the Foreign Office became a Grade
With a new sense of the building's historical value, it underwent a 17-year, £100 million restoration process, completed in 1997.The Locarno Suite, used as offices and storage since the Second World War, was fully restored for use in international conferences. The building is now open to the public each year over Open House Weekend.
In 2014 refurbishment to accommodate all Foreign and Commonwealth Office employees into one building was started by Mace.
International relations are handled centrally from Whitehall on behalf of the whole of the United Kingdom and its dependencies. However, the devolved administrations also maintain an overseas presence in the European Union, the U.S. and China alongside British diplomatic missions. These offices aim to promote their own economies and ensure that devolved interests are taken into account in British foreign policy. Ministers from devolved administrations can attend international negotiations when agreed with the British Government e.g. EU fisheries negotiations. [ citation needed ]Similarly, ministers from the devolved administrations meet at approximately quarterly intervals through the Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe), chaired by the Foreign Secretary to "discuss matters bearing on devolved responsibilities that are under discussion within the European Union."
Under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong is exclusively in charge of its internal affairs and external relations, whilst the PRC is responsible for its foreign affairs and defence. As a separate customs territory, Hong Kong maintains and develops relations with foreign states and regions, and plays an active role in such international organisations as World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in its own right under the name of Hong Kong, China. Hong Kong participates in 16 projects of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The diplomatic foreign relations of the United Kingdom are conducted by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, headed by the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs. The Prime Minister and numerous other agencies play a role in setting policy, and many institutions and businesses have a voice and a role.
The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, commonly known as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown and member of the British Cabinet, within the Government of the United Kingdom. The Foreign Secretary is head of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The position was previously known as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and is considered one of the four Great Offices of State.
The British Overseas Territories (BOTs), also known as United Kingdom Overseas Territories (UKOTs), are fourteen territories all with a constitutional and historical link with the United Kingdom. They are remnants of the British Empire and do not form part of the United Kingdom itself. Most of the permanently inhabited territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defence and foreign relations. Three are inhabited only by a transitory population of military or scientific personnel. They all have the British monarch as head of state.
The Secretary of State for International Development, also referred to as the International Development Secretary, was a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Department for International Development (DFID). The office formed part of the British Cabinet.
Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos,, is a British Labour Party politician and diplomat who served as the eighth UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Before her appointment to the UN, she served as British High Commissioner to Australia. She was created a life peer in 1997, serving as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council from 2003 to 2007.
The Department for International Development (DFID) was the government department of the United Kingdom responsible for administering foreign aid. The goal of the department was "to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty". DFID was headed by the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for International Development. The position was last held between 13 February 2020 and the department's abolishment on 2 September 2020 by Anne-Marie Trevelyan. In a 2010 report by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), DFID was described as "an international development leader in times of global crisis". The UK aid logo is often used to publicly acknowledge DFID's development programmes are funded by UK taxpayers.
Global Affairs Canada is the department of the Government of Canada that manages Canada's diplomatic and consular relations, encourages Canadian international trade, and leads Canada's international development and humanitarian assistance. It is also responsible for maintaining Canadian government offices abroad with diplomatic and consular status on behalf of all government departments.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is the department of the Australian federal government responsible for foreign policy and relations, international aid, consular services and trade and investment.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is a department of the Government of Ireland that is responsible for promoting the interests of Ireland in the European Union and the wider world. The head of the Department is the Minister for Foreign Affairs who is assisted by two Ministers of State.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, formerly Minister of State for Europe, is a ministerial position within the Government of the United Kingdom, in charge of affairs with Europe, the European Union and NATO. The Minister can also be responsible for government policy towards the Americas; European security; defence and international security; the Falkland Islands; polar regions; migration; protocol; human resources; OSCE and Council of Europe; relations with Parliament; British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar and Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus; and FCO finance, knowledge and technology.
Sir Laurence Stanley Charles Bristow is a British diplomat. Since March 2020 he has been serving as Regional Ambassador for COP 26 - China, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa jointly at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Cabinet Office.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is the executive department of the Philippine government tasked to contribute to the enhancement of national security and the protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, to participate in the national endeavor of sustaining development and enhancing the Philippines' competitive edge, to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas and to mobilize them as partners in national development, to project a positive image of the Philippines, and to increase international understanding of Philippine culture for mutually-beneficial relations with other countries.
The Ministry of External Affairs of India is the government agency responsible for maintaining the of foreign relations of India. It is headed by the Minister of External Affairs, a cabinet minister. The administrative head is the Foreign Secretary of India, an Indian Foreign Service officer. The Ministry represents the Government of India through embassies and is also responsible for India's representation at the United Nations and other international organizations. It also advises other Ministries and State Governments on foreign governments and institutions.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is a ministerial department of the British Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. The department is responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK.
The Shadow Secretary of State for International Development is the lead spokesperson for the United Kingdom's Official Opposition on issues related to international aid, most notably to the third world. The Shadow Cabinet position has no counterpart in the British Government after DFID and the role of International Development Secretary was abolished by the second Johnson government in 2020.
Sir Timothy Earle Barrow is a British diplomat who served as Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union from 2017 to 2020 and as the British Ambassador to the European Union from 2020 to 2021.
Simon Gerard McDonald, Baron McDonald of Salford, is a former British diplomat who was the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service until September 2020. Sir Simon was the last professional head of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office before the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Sir Philip Robert Barton is a British diplomat, currently the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. He was previously British High Commissioner to India; he was High Commissioner to Pakistan from 2014 to 2016.
The Diplomatic Academy of the United Kingdom was part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It was renamed the International Academy following the merger of the FCO and the Department for International Development (DFID) in September 2020 to form the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Chevening Awards are supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Marshall Scholarships are mainly funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) is a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office unit
UK Government policy advisers from... Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Part of: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Foreign Office .|