Select Committee on Foreign Affairs First Report


35.We again recommend the inclusion of information on a country-by-country basis in future annual reports on human rights (paragraph 7);
We recommend that information be provided on every country where there are significant grounds for concern about human rights and that this information should include:
  • a brief assessment of the country's human rights record, including details of the country's record of ratification of core human rights instruments and, where relevant, details of UK Government action to encourage ratification;

  • details of UK Government action designed to improve the country's human rights record, including action taken in conjunction with EU, Commonwealth or other partners;

  • a list of the human rights-related projects supported by the UK Government, with the cost of each; and

  • an outline of further proposed activities and actions (paragraph 8);
We recommend that future editions of the annual report should include as an annex a breakdown of FCO expenditure through key human rights funds over the previous financial year (paragraph 12);
We recommend that information on human rights expenditure provided in future annual reports should also be made available on the Internet through a searchable database (paragraph 13);
We recommend that in next year's annual report the Government take particular care to explain how its policies and actions in particular countries address the human rights shortfalls which it has identified, and the reasons for the strategy of engagement which has been adopted in each case (paragraph 18);
We recommend that the Government explain in its response to this Report how critical engagement differs from constructive engagement and the reasons for any policy developments involved (paragraph 19);
PCAs should have teeth and, when appropriate, the teeth should bite. States which consistently fail to meet their obligations should have their PCAs suspended (paragraph 22);
We recommend that the Government should describe in more detail the circumstances which would lead it to press for the suspension of a trade agreement with a country in breach of its human rights obligations (paragraph 23);
We recommend that the issue of forced marriages continues to feature in future annual reports on human rights (paragraph 27);
We recommend that citizenship education continue to feature in future annual reports on human rights (paragraph 28);
We strongly recommend that the Government finds time to ensure that the International Criminal Court Bill becomes law before the end of the current Session (paragraph 29);
    We recommend that the Government continue to make its opposition to the death penalty known to the US authorities, especially in the early months of the new administration (paragraph 32);

    We recommend that next year's annual report contain a section devoted to slavery and bonded labour across the Indian sub-continent as a whole. We further recommend that the Government informs the Committee in its response to this Report as to the outcomes for which it will be pressing from the International Labour Organisation conference on bonded labour to be held in June 2001 (paragraph 33); and

    We regret the Government's failure to publish the green paper on mercenaries on time, and recommend that it states in its response to this Report when this important document will be published (paragraph 34).
36.The production of an annual report on human rights is now established practice and reflects the Government's commitment to human rights. The reports have improved consistently year on year. Our recommendations are intended to help the FCO to keep to this trend.
37.Mr Hain has stated his appreciation of the feedback we provide, while Amnesty International UK has commented on our annual appraisal of human rights policy that "such scrutiny is vital." It is scrutiny we intend to maintain.

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Prepared 30 January 2001