The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has set out plans for a major reorganisation of its senior management, which will see current political director Sir Tim Barrow promoted to a new role of equal status to permanent secretary Sir Philip Barton.
FCDO’s special envoy for famine prevention and humanitarian affairs Nick Dyer will meanwhile become director general for humanitarian and development issues; DG for delivery Kumar Iyer becomes director general for economics and global issues; and Jenny Bates, DG for the Indo-Pacific, takes over responsibility for the British International Investment development-finance agency. The agency is currently known as CDC Group but is set to change its name in April.
Thomas Drew, who is currently director general for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan, will take responsibility for defence and intelligence, coordinating the department’s work on Russia and Ukraine in addition to his existing duties.
Foreign Office Africa director Moazzam Malik “declined a role in this revised structure”, according to an internal briefing on the changes reported by development-sector platform Devex. It said FCDO leaders had pledged to appoint an interim DG for Africa and Latin America in the coming weeks.
A statement from the FCDO, which was created out of the controversial merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development in September 2020, said structures are kept “under constant review”.
“The FCDO is expanding its senior team to deliver on the foreign secretary’s priorities and respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has altered the wider geopolitical landscape,” the department said.
“It represents a paradigm shift which changes the context for the department’s work and achieving UK objectives.”
Stephanie Draper, chief executive of non-governmental-organisation network Bond, said the changes present “worrying signs” for the future of the FCDO's international development work, which she said is supposed to have been “at the heart” of the merged department.
“The FCDO now risks buckling under the weight of crisis after crisis, while grappling with extreme poverty, climate change, and the global recovery from the pandemic,” she said.
Draper said Malik has been vital to the merger “since day one”, and that his resignation is “a real blow” to the department and to the UK’s relationship with Africa.
“A second permanent undersecretary and a director general for development and humanitarian assistance is welcome, but the FCDO urgently needs a dedicated international development minister in the cabinet to drive the UK’s development priorities,” she said.
“The FCDO needs real senior level expertise to help prevent future crisis, rather than constantly trying to deal with the aftermath.”