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Charities Aid Foundation


12 May 2017

Today’s election news is dominated by a speech that Jeremy Corbyn has delivered at Chatham House, in which he set out what Labour’s foreign and defence policy would look like if he were elected. This has, unsurprisingly, sparked a briefing battle between Labour and the Conservatives.

However, much of this is a distraction from the important issue of how to secure and strengthen the UK’s role in the world. The decision to leave the European Union means that the UK’s place in the world is changing, with whoever succeeds at the election having to turn to new markets and develop new relationships, as well as adjusting to the changing relationship that we will have with old European partners.

One of the ways that the UK is increasingly seeking to influence the global agenda is through the use of soft power. This is a persuasive approach to international relations which allows the UK to project our liberal values and commitment to human rights around the world without having to rely on traditional hard power. Soft power can be manifested in a number of ways, including through the arts, sport and charities.

The UK’s strong commitment to international aid has seen many UK charities working on the ground to help countries and communities in need. These charities develop trust and support, including from national governments, which can help to solidify and enhance perceptions of the UK more broadly. The generosity of British citizens and their determination to help the most vulnerable people also generates a lot of goodwill. By developing positive relationships whilst exhibiting and exuding British values, these charities are helping to influence through soft power.

Want to let us know what you think about the leaked Labour manifesto? Get in touch with us at, or on twitter @cafonline.
Want to let us know what you think about the leaked Labour manifesto? Get in touch with us at, or on twitter @cafonline.

Research that CAF carried out last year reveal just how much potential charities have for helping to increase the UK’s international reach. There are 10, 756 charities from England and Wales operating in Commonwealth countries, 5,085 in BRICS countries, 3, 922 in the EU and 7,071 in G20 countries.

CAF is calling for the next government to put charities at the heart of their soft power strategy. Our charities do so much to make a positive difference across the world – we should seek to build on that, and leverage their relationships to the benefit of our global standing and influence.

If you have any questions or want to tell us about your views on soft power, get in touch with us at, or on twitter @cafonline.