Clarifications of UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond
On the occasion of the celebration of the international Human
Rights Day on December 10th, 2015, the British Foreign Secretary,
Philip Hammond, published an op-ed article in The Independent entitled
‘Promoting human rights is not about who can shout the loudest’.
The article is aimed at explaining and defending UK’s human rights
policy, in the face of criticism from the Parliament and the press.
British Foreign Secretary |
The Minister stressed his country’s strong commitment to the
protection of human rights, which he said is being approached in
“First, we are focusing on efforts which get tangible results
… Quiet and continued engagement behind the scenes, nurturing a
relationship and not being afraid to raise testing issues in private
can sometimes achieve surprising results; lecturing people in public
doesn’t always work, and can sometimes prove counter-productive”.
He added that “Just because the British Government isn’t shouting
about an issue from the rooftops, doesn’t mean we aren’t assiduously
pursuing a case in private. It will depend on how best we believe
we can achieve the success or shift in circumstances that we seek”.
The Minister cited the success of this approach in resolving the
case of Karl Andree who was sentenced to prison and lashing, but
was freed when the British Government convinced Riyadh to release
Minister Hammond explained the second approach by saying that
“we make most progress on human rights around the world when our
approach appeals to others’ enlightened self-interest and is sensitive
to their culture and history. In short, we have to persuade countries
and governments that respecting human rights will be beneficial
The third approach is based on building the capacity of FCO staff
in the field of human rights. According to Minister Hammond, human
rights is no longer the preserve of just a few specialised staff
or experts within the FCO but is the responsibility of all British
diplomats. “I have ensured that human rights sit within the everyday
work of the Foreign Office… Human rights expertise is an important
part of the training our staff receive”, wrote Hammond.