pdf Building Stability Overseas Strategy

Institution: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence
Publication Date: July 2011
Keywords: Stabilisation; Conflict 


This strategy sets out how the UK Government aims to address serious conflict and prevent it from taking hold in unstable countries by promoting democracy, security and prosperity in countries and regions where its interests are at stake.  It sets out current drivers of conflict across the world and examines future threats, including resource scarcity. 

The Building Stability Overseas Strategy (BSOS) has been developed jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development and Ministry of Defence.  Its narrative emphasises why stability matters to the UK, drawing on lessons of the experience of the UK to date in fragile and conflict affected countries, and a growing body of international evidence. 

Key Issues:

The purpose of the BSOS is the coordination of the efforts of the UK Government to address instability and conflict overseas, using the UK’s diplomatic, development, military and security tools.  It sets out the importance of leveraging the expertise and resources of international and regional organisations, while also moving beyond traditional partnerships.

The focus of the BSOS is on how the UK can improve the effectiveness of its efforts by strengthening the ‘whole of government’, integrated approach and refining prioritisation at a time when resources are restricted.  The document highlights the high costs to the international community of managing conflict and its effects once it has broken.  A key lesson emphasized throughout is it is far more cost-effective to invest in conflict prevention and de-escalation than to pay the costs of responding to violent conflict. 

The BSOS will underpin the UK Government’s work on conflict prevention and in conflict-affected and fragile states.  It is aligned with several strategies underpinning the National Security Strategy, including Counter-Terrorism and Defence Engagement.  It is founded on three mutually supporting pillars:

a) Early warning: anticipating instability and potential triggers for conflict.
b) Rapid crisis prevention and response: improving the ability of the UK Government to take fast, appropriate and effective action to prevent a crisis or stop it spreading or escalating. Responses include the deployment of Stabilisation Response Teams, used recently in Libya.
c) Investing in upstream prevention: helping to build strong, legitimate institutions and robust societies in fragile countries that are capable of managing tensions and shocks so there is a lower likelihood of instability and conflict.  

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