29th April 2016
Britain and Human Rights
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report was published on 21 April. This report is aimed at increasing awareness of the UK’s role in promoting human rights work overseas, and to encourage countries to uphold and maintain their international human rights record.
The Report lists 30 human rights priority countries: these are the countries where we have the most serious concerns, but it is not an exhaustive list. Our interest in protecting human rights is global.
Some people have suggested that human rights have slipped down the list of priorities for the Foreign Office. This is not correct. What we have done is to take a long careful look at our approach to human rights, consulting widely, and examined where we can make the most impact. We have therefore decided to focus human rights work around three main issues:
- Democratic values and the rule or law;
- Strengthening the rules-based international system;
- Human rights for a stable world.
The Foreign Secretary has instructed us to mainstream human rights work within the Foreign Office. He said: “Human rights should be – and is – the responsibility of all British diplomats”. This means that human rights work will be one of the core elements of our work, integrated into all our other goals. The network now has the freedom to identify locally where we can make the most difference, within these themes, and just do it.
This year’s Annual Human Rights Report is shorter than in previous years, to make it better-focussed, more accessible and user-friendly. It is worth a look.