I am very concerned about the lowered commitment from the current government, and the Lib Dem / Conservative government before it, to downgrade Britain’s work for human rights internationally. Indeed in 2015, the permanent secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that under the Conservatives “human rights are now seen less of a priority than the so-called ‘prosperity agenda’ ”
The Lib Dem / Conservative coalition between 2010 and 2015 cut the FCO budget by 16%, meaning that the UK now spends less per head on international diplomacy, per head, than Germany, France, Australia or Canada. This means that we have been absent from having any voice in major international crises, where human rights abuses are occurring. We have been absent from having any input into some of the most pressing human rights crises, such as the Ukraine, Afghanistan or the Middle East peace processes.
Indeed, the Conservatives have broken the UK’s obligations under the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty by continuing to grant arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite the atrocities that Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen. This severely weakens the UK’s moral authority internationally.
Labour will seek to restore progressive values into foreign policy, placing greater emphasis on working multi-laterally with allies and friends, based on shared values. We will drive forward a renewed diplomatic effort to find peaceful resolutions for the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, and we will work closely with the International Criminal Court to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes are held to account, and this will include investigating, and where appropriate prosecuting, British citizens who have travelled to Syria to support the so-called Islamic State terrorist group.
Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW