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 Drones, BASIC, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, CND, Conciliation Resources, Drone Wars, Forces Watch, Gender Action for Peace and Security, International Alert, LSE – Centre for Conflict and Civil Society Research Group, Oxfam, Oxford Research Group, Peace Direct, Protection Approaches, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Saferworld, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Shadow World Investigations, UNA-UK, University of Bradford, and War on Want.

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.

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.

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.

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)

General election 2019: A mini-manifesto

Five rethinks for peace and security.


General election 2019: Briefing for policymakers

As global power relations shift, security needs a rethink: read our key issues for debate during the election campaign.

Download briefing.

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.

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.

Parliamentary briefings

Rethinking Security has published two parliamentary briefings:

  1. Download the June 2017 parliamentary briefing on the shortcomings of the UK security strategy.
  2. Download the March 2018 parliamentary briefing on how the UK security strategy could be re-framed for the shifting global context.

Brexit, ‘Global Britain’, and the UK’s place in the world: Key issues for peace and security (2019)

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.

Download briefing

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.

Download report.

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.

Rethinking security: A discussion paper (2016)

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.

Other resources

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)

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