Human Rights and Democracy: The 2012 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report
Foreword by Foreign Secretary William Hague
The promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy objectives. I, along with my ministerial team, consistently raise human rights violations wherever and whenever they occur. And with this in mind, I am delighted to introduce the FCO’s 2012 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report, which details our efforts to promote human rights during 2012.
We have made a number of changes to this year’s report, including two new chapters. The first is on Promoting and Protecting Human Rights through the UN, and describes our work on human rights through the UN – the forum in which the UK seeks to promote a coordinated response to human rights violations from the international community. The second is on our Human Rights and Democracy Programme, an important source of funding that allows us to support hundreds of human-rights-related projects around the world.
Another innovation to this year’s report is a new section on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI), which I launched in May. The aim of this initiative is to strengthen and coordinate international efforts to prevent and respond to atrocities involving sexual violence, and to break down the culture of impunity around such crimes. We have included details of the work we have undertaken so far on PSVI, as well as a case study on the first deployment of a UK team of experts to the Syrian border to document abuses and provide essential training.
This year we have taken a fresh look at our methodology for including states in the Countries of Concern section. The new methodology will ensure that our criteria remain robust, particularly in response to the interest that the Foreign Affairs Committee and members of my Advisory Group on Human Rights have shown in this section. The primary factor in our consideration remains the overall human rights situation in a country. But we also take into account how well the UK is placed to work for change. As a result of this analysis, we retained 27 of the 28 countries highlighted in 2011, dropping only Chad.
My Advisory Group on Human Rights provided valuable input into reviewing those criteria, and the group continues to make a significant contribution to the development and implementation of our policy on human rights. I thank the group’s members for their commitment and their achievements so far, and look forward to continuing to work with them.