Here you’ll find all our briefings, reports and evidence submissions for policymakers. If you have a question, please just get in touch.
Rethinking Security submits and publishes policy recommendations in its own name but coordinates its policy work through a Political Engagement Working Group that includes policy and advocacy specialists from the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, Airwars, the APPG on Global Security and Non-Proliferation, BASIC, Bond, British Pugwash, Campaign Against Arms Trade, CND, Ceasefire, Conciliation Resources, Conflict and Environment Observatory, Gender Action for Peace and Security, Health Poverty Action, International Alert, LSE IDEAS – Conflict and Civicness Research Group, Medact, NATO Watch, Peace Direct, Protection Approaches, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Queen Mary University London, Saferworld, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Shadow World Investigations, Tearfund, UNA-UK, and the University of Bradford.
November 2023: Evidence Submission to the Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government
On 30 November 2023 we submitted evidence to the Liaison Sub-Committee of the House of Commons on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government.
September 2023: Presentation at the Lib Dems Conference
On 26 September 2023, we presented some of the evidence from our Alternative Security Review and recommendations towards a Human Security Strategy for the UK at the Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Bournemouth. We subsequently published a summary article on how human and planetary security should inform the Lib Dems policy offering in 2024.
April 2023: Roundtable of Navigating Strategic Issues in UK Security Policy
On 20 April 2023, in association with Bradford University Department of Peace Studies, we organised a full-day roundtable event in London that brought together 24 academics, policy-makers (from FCDO and MOD-SONAC) and civil society experts to discuss the latest Integrated Review Refresh and the strategic challenges for UK security policy in the run-up to an anticipated new strategy in 2025.
April 2023: Evidence submission to the MOD on the Defence Command Paper Refresh
On 14 April 2023 we submitted evidence to the Secretary of State for Defence’s Office of Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC) in relation to its updating of its Defence Command Paper (Defence white paper of March 2021) and the future direction of UK defence.
April 2023: Commentary on the Integrated Review Refresh
On 13 March 2023 the UK government released its Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a more volatile and contested world, shortly followed by an International Science and Technology Strategy. In our response, we focused on some of the Refresh’s gaps and its three big assumptions on international alliances, nuclear power, and technological transformation.
November 2022: Evidence Submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee
On 28 November 2022 we submitted evidence to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in relation to its inquiry into the Update to the UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development & Foreign Policy.
November 2022: Letter to PM Rishi Sunak on the Integrated Review ‘Refresh’
On 16 November we wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ask him to provide details of the terms of reference and timetable of the updating or ‘refresh’ of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy that his predecessor began in September 2022. We reminded him of the government’s commitment to consult externally on this.
December 2021: Briefing on External Consultation & the Integrated Review
On 09 December we published a briefing paper written jointly with UNA-UK on external consultation conducted as part of the 2020-21 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. The briefing compares the practice of the Integrated Review with previous security reviews, drawing on published methodologies and information gained from a series of Freedom of Information requests. Looking at public consultation, engagement with external expertise, and engagement with Parliament, it aims to inform better practice and contribute to Rethinking Security’s Alternative Security Review project.
- Download Briefing: Open Society, Closed Conversations: External Consultation and the Integrated Review.
October 2021: Evidence Submission to the Defence Committee
On 04 October 2021 we submitted evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee on its inquiry into the US, UK and NATO.
- Download our evidence submission to the Defence Committee.
October 2021: FoI Request on Integrated Review Consultation by the MoD
On 08 October 2021 we received a response from the Ministry of Defence on the external consultations it conducted as part of the Integrated Review (2020-21). This revealed that it received inputs from 171 external parties, of which 97 were (named) organisations and 74 were (unnamed) individuals.
- Download the FoI Response from the Ministry of Defence.
September 2021: FoI Request on Integrated Review Consultation by the FCDO
On 27 September 2021 we received a response from Wilton Park, an executive agency of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), on the external consultations it conducted as part of the Integrated Review (2020-21). The information includes which organisations participated in its roundtables and brief summaries of their findings.
Thus far, the FCDO has been unwilling to share information on which external organisations the Department for International Development (DFID) consulted with prior to its merger into the FCDO in September 2020.
- Download the FoI Response from Wilton Park.
- Download the Insights Summary of IR roundtable findings from Wilton Park.
- Download the list of organisations participating in Wilton Park’s IR roundtables.
- Download the additional list of organisations participating in Wilton Park’s roundtable on ‘Indo-Pacific Tilt’.
- Download the FCDO’s response to our FoI request, received 28 April 2022.
June 2021: FoI Request on Integrated Review External Consultation
On 18 June 2021 we received a response from the Cabinet Office to our Freedom of Information (FoI) request on how external consultation was conducted to inform the Integrated Review (2020-21) and how this information was used by government. We will publish additional information on which organisations were involved soon. You can see an initial summary of findings as a Twitter thread.
- Download the FoI Response from the Cabinet Office.
- Download the list of organisations consulted with by the Cabinet Office.
April 2021: Updated Briefing on Human Security & the Integrated Review
Ahead of a Westminster Hall debate on Global Human Security in the House of Commons on 13 April 2021, we updated our briefing for parliamentarians on Human Security and the Integrated Review. The short primer explains what human security is, who has embraced the approach, and how the term has been used or side-stepped by the UK government in its security strategies, including the Integrated Review. It includes four new recommendations on how the operationalisation of the Review might better promote human security.
March 2021: Commentary on the Integrated Review
On 16 March 2021 the Prime Minister released the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. Our initial analysis of the Review focused on its failure to set priorities between often competing and contradictory objectives, not least its failure to meaningfully prioritise climate security, but found some hope in its attention to international cooperation.
March 2021: Briefing on Human Security and the Integrated Review
In early March 2021, ahead of the release of the Integrated Review, we produced a briefing for parliamentarians on Human Security and the Integrated Review. The short briefing explains what human security is, who has embraced the approach, and how the term has been used or side-stepped by the UK government and previous security strategies. It includes five recommendations on how the Integrated Review might promote human security.
February 2021: Engaging NATO on its approach to Human Security
In February 2021, to coincide with a NATO defence ministerial meeting to consider plans to renew the alliance’s strategic concept for the 2020s, we contributed an article on NATO and Human Security to a new volume published by NATO Watch. Prof Mary Kaldor, a member of our political engagement working group, was also a speaker at a public ‘digital dialogue on human security in NATO’ organised by NATO’s Human Security Unit on 25 February.
February 2021: Evidence submission to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy
On 15 February 2021 we submitted evidence to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy’s inquiry into National Security Machinery.
December 2020: Briefing on UK Political Parties’ stances on National Security
One year after the 2019 general election, and in anticipation of the publication of the Integrated Review, RS Coordinator Richard Reeve published a special briefing on the politics of military spending in the UK and how the three major parties were positioning themselves politically on the UK’s international role and influence.
September 2020: Evidence submission to the Integrated Review
On 03 September 2020 we submitted the following evidence to the government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. We focused on making the case for an approach based on principles of Human Security, Shared Security and Planetary Security rather than competitive geopolitics and narrow national security. We were also able to make more specific input to the Conflict and Development aspect of the Review through engagement via DFID during August.
July 2020: Letter on Consultation for the Integrated Review
On 07 July 2020 we wrote to Alex Ellis, the Deputy National Security Adviser with responsibility for the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy to request clarity on how the government’s recently revived national security strategy review process would engage with the views of civil society. We received a response on 03 August 2020.
- Download our letter to the Deputy National Security Adviser – Integrated Review.
- Download the response to our letter from the Deputy National Security Adviser – Integrated Review.
June 2020: Submission to Labour Party National Policy Forum
In June 2020 we made a submission to the Labour Party’s International Policy Commission, which is responsible for setting the party’s policy on foreign affairs, international development, defence and Britain’s future relationship with Europe. We used our permitted 600 words to promote the principle of Shared Security as a framework for the UK’s approach to ‘national security’ policy-making.
Rethinking Security is independent of all political parties and seeks to work with all parties to help shape progressive change in UK security and foreign policies.
April 2020: Evidence submission to the International Development Committee
On 30 April 2020 we submitted evidence to the House of Commons International Development Committee on its inquiry into the Effectiveness of UK aid.
April 2020: Evidence submission to the Defence Committee
On 07 April 2020 we submitted evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee on its inquiry into the Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review.
March 2020: Freedom of Information Request on NSS/SDSR Consultation
On 20 March 2020 we received a response from the Cabinet Office to our FoI request on which external organisations were consulted by UK Government in preparation for the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review. The circumstances of these consultations remain unclear and a number of the organisations cited have told us that they were not aware that they were being engaged in consultations on the NSS/SDSR.
- Download the FoI Response from the Cabinet Office.
- Download the List of External Organisations cited.
March 2020: Letter to the Prime Minister on the Integrated Review
On 06 March we wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to remind him of his government’s commitment to improve external consultation around the recently announced (26 Feb) Integrated Review of foreign policy, security, defence and international development and to seek clarity on how that engagement would be conducted.
March 2020: Advocating Shared Security for a Values-Based Foreign Policy
On 03 March an article advocating a Shared Security approach to the coming Integrated Review was included in a new volume published by Oxfam and the Foreign Policy Centre, Finding Britain’s role in a changing world: Building a values-based foreign policy. Written by RS Coordinator Richard Reeve and Conciliation Resources’ Jonathan Cohen and Teresa Dumasy, the article was included alongside others from, inter alia, Baroness Anelay, Theo Clarke MP, Tobias Ellwood MP, Caroline Lucas MP and Lord McConnell, and launched in the Houses of Parliament.
February 2020: Open letter to incoming Secretary of State
On 17 February 2020 we wrote to Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, International Development Secretary, with our proposals for changes to the UK’s approach to security.
We also wrote to the incoming chairs of all Commons select committees who would eventually also be represented on the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS), sending them a copy of our comparative analysis of 20 European and North American national security strategies.
December 2019: Report on Workshop: ‘Radically Rethinking UK Security Politics’
In December 2019 academics from the Universities of York and Sussex convened a workshop in York under the title Radically Rethinking UK Security Politics. Rethinking Security was delighted to have been involved in the planning for that workshop and to have participated in it alongside representatives from some of our member organisations and many others from academia and civil society committed to challenging the orthodoxies of UK security culture and policy.
General election 2019: Our manifesto for peace and security (90 seconds)
July 2019: Open letters to incoming Secretaries of State
On 25 July 2019 we sent open letters to the Defence, International Development and Foreign Secretaries, highlighting 10 actions to end the UK’s contribution to worldwide insecurity and violence. The letters called on the new ministers to rethink the government’s Global Britain agenda by prioritising a sustainable, collaborative approach to worldwide stability.
- Download the letter to Alok Sharma MP.
- Download the letter to Ben Wallace MP.
- Download the letter to Dominic Raab MP.
- See our Media page for the accompanying press release.
May 2019: Open letters to incoming Secretaries of State
On 2 May 2019 we wrote to Penny Mordaunt MP, Defence Secretary, and Rory Stewart MP, International Development Secretary, with our proposals for changes to the UK’s approach to security.
- Download the letter to Penny Mordaunt.
- Download the letter to Rory Stewart.
- See our Media page for the accompanying press release.
Rethinking Security has published two parliamentary briefings:
- Download the June 2017 parliamentary briefing on the shortcomings of the UK security strategy.
- Download the March 2018 parliamentary briefing on how the UK security strategy could be re-framed for the shifting global context.
The Brexit debate is happening at a time of shifting global power relations. With the UK’s economic and military influence already diminishing relative to some other powers, the prospect of Brexit has prompted renewed questions about its future place in the world.
Contrasting narratives: a comparative study of European and North American national security strategies (2018)
This study of 20 European and North American national security strategies analyses how states define security and their underlying assumptions about how it is built. It examines how security challenges are analysed and prioritised, and the formulation of strategic responses. Finally, it compares opportunities for democratic participation and oversight in the development and implementation of national security strategies.
Rethinking Security podcast (2017)
In this podcast, the lead author of Rethinking Security, David Gee, presents its key ideas to an audience from humanitarian and development organisations.
This 90-page paper provides an evidence-based critique of the UK’s national security strategy. It analyses the features of an outmoded narrative, and suggests the principal reasons for this failure to adapt. The paper goes on to outline some principles for a new approach to security, the shift in priorities that would be required, and the practical ways in which a new approach might be applied to current security challenges.
Conciliation Resources: ‘Overwhelming majority of British public support talking to proscribed terrorists in pursuit of peace’ (2017)
Saferworld: ‘Lessons on counter-terror and countering violent extremism’ (2017)
Celia McKeon: ‘Stop Trump – definitely! But then what?’ (2017)
Celia McKeon: ‘UK National Security Strategy: Security for whom?’ (2016)
Celia McKeon: ‘Uncomfortable assumptions on security: the UK vote on support for Saudi Arabia’ (2016)
Prof Andrew Rigby: ‘Redefining security: Lessons from Public Health’ (2015)