Nigel Baker

Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See

26th November 2012 Holy See

Protecting Human Dignity: Violence against Women

Foreign Secretary William Hague with Special Envoy to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, Ms Angelina Jolie at the a Wilton Park Conference on ‘Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations’, 14 November 2012.

25 November was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is shameful that crimes by humans against other humans are, it seems, an inevitable element of the human condition. The use of rape as a weapon of war, or human trafficking as a lucrative trade by organised crime, are all too prevalent in our 21st century world. If we believe in human dignity, it is our duty to confront and end such crimes.

The UK will make this a major theme of its 2013 G8 Presidency. William Hague said on 25 November that “civil society, communities and international organisations” need to work together to prevent sexual violence in conflict. British International Development Minister  Alan Duncan took the opportunity of a visit to Rome on 19 November to raise the issue and discuss with Holy See officials how we might work together to prevent sexual violence.

We are also supporting efforts to tackle human trafficking, “modern day slavery”. Look out for our guest blog later this week by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, one of the most indefatigable opponents of this evil trade, who has worked alongside British parliamentarians, officials, the Catholic Church of England and Wales, and the Metropolitan Police to try to improve the way we respond in Britain, Italy and elsewhere. It is worth remembering that when it comes to human trafficking for prostitution, we are all complicit – this is a crime that takes place under our very noses.

5 comments on “Protecting Human Dignity: Violence against Women

  1. The Church IS a form of violence against women. No modern country should be supporting the Vatican and their malignant people or policies.

  2. Hello Ambassador Baker,

    With the on going unrest and violence in Eastern DRC after the town of Goma fell under M23 rebels, is the possibilty of rape being used as a weapon of war escalate if the three countries that are to meet in Kampala (DRC, Uganda and Rwanda) fail to reach some sort of agreement ? What are the chances of reaching an agreement that will be effective ?

    Kindest Regards!

    1. Thank you Irene. You are right that DRC is one of the countries of greatest current concern in this area. This is why the first prevention team established under the Foreign Secretary’s Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative is focusing its efforts on DRC. By showing that, amongst other things, information will be gathered that can be used in court, which will therefore reduce sharply the impunity of perpetrators, we hope to send out the message that criminals who order or carry out such crimes will not have a safe hiding place in the future.

      1. Thank you for your reply Ambassador,

        If I am not mistaken, the Foreign Secretary’s Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative was introduced in May of this year. Would it be accurate to say that it will take a while to determine how effectual this action plan will turn out to be?

        Kindest Regards!

        1. Irene, of course you are right. There are no quick fixes. And in the meantime thousands continue to suffer. But the Foreign Secretary is determined that this is an initiative that will have real impact where it is needed most, making a practical difference. The deployment of the first expert teams is part of that. Our focus will be sustained.

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About Nigel Baker

Nigel is currently British Ambassador to the Holy See. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11).

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provides a window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The issues Nigel has written about include: Women at the Holy See, British Parliamentarians’ visit to the Holy See, Diplomacy and Faith and the phenomenon of World Youth Day.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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