Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fifth Report


(a)We conclude that the Government's response to terrorists who have no respect for human rights must be to show that human rights are central to its vision of a civilised world, and to how it responds to the terrorist threat (paragraph 3).
(b)We recommend that the Government work within the United Nations to secure a common interpretation of the Geneva Conventions as they apply to non-state parties (paragraph 5).
(c)We recommend that the Government ensure that the human rights agenda is pursued with our allies in the war against terrorism as vigorously now as before September 11 (paragraph 7).
(d)We recommend that the next Human Rights Annual Report include a section which specifically addresses the impact of the events of September 11 and the war against terrorism on human rights across the world, as well as on the Government's policy and activity in the field of human rights, especially in those countries, including those in Europe and North America, which have played a part in the international coalition against terrorism (paragraph 8).
(e)In order to avoid sending a false signal to countries not listed in the report, which might then become complacent and less amenable to UK efforts on human rights issues, we recommend that the FCO include in future Human Rights Annual Reports brief information—in chart form if necessary—on every country which gives rise to significant human rights concerns (paragraph 11).
(f)We recommend that in future Human Rights Annual Reports, the FCO should focus on providing comprehensive information on the British Government's opinions, representations and action on behalf of human rights worldwide, while keeping to a minimum information on the human rights situation in individual countries which is publicly available elsewhere. The Government should only need to set out at length its understanding of the human rights situation in a country where it believes that the other available sources of information are inaccurate or incomplete (paragraph 13).
(g)We recommend that the next Human Rights Annual Report should be blunt where policies and activities have failed or not been fully successful, and should set out how they have evolved in response (paragraph 14).
(h)We recommend that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be reinstated at the beginning of future Human Rights Annual Reports (paragraph 15).
(i)We conclude that recent moves towards inter-departmental co-ordination in the area of conflict prevention are welcome, as is Peter Hain's undertaking to make available in future Human Rights Annual Reports information on the global pooled budget for conflict prevention (paragraph 18).
(j)We recommend that in future Human Rights Annual Reports, information on the Human Rights Project Fund be provided in a more user-friendly, informative format, perhaps using the information provided this year for the Conflict Prevention Fund as a model. We further recommend that the information contained in the online Human Rights Project Fund database be thoroughly checked and corrected (paragraph 19).
(k)We conclude that the failure of constructive engagement in Zimbabwe reveals the limits of that policy as an effective diplomatic tool. We further conclude that the credibility of the Commonwealth and of the European Union have been called into question by the failure of the former to suspend Zimbabwe and of the latter to respond adequately to the erosion of human rights in that country. We recommend that the Government explore ways of encouraging the Southern Africa Development Community and individual African governments to take firm action to help restore democracy and the rule of law to Zimbabwe (paragraph 23).
(l)We conclude that institutional disregard for human rights is a serious threat to achieving stability within the Middle East. We recommend that the Government bring the strongest pressure to bear on all parties in the region to end human rights violations (paragraph 25).
(m)We recommend that the British Government join with other EU member states to promote the tabling by the European Union of a draft resolution on China at the UN Commission on Human Rights for 2002 (paragraph 27).
(n)We recommend that the issue of forced marriages continue to feature in future Human Rights Annual Reports, with specific reference to progress in co-operation between the United Kingdom and the countries abroad in which forced marriages most commonly occur (paragraph 29).
(o)We welcome the publication of the long overdue green paper on mercenaries, and look forward to examining it in detail (paragraph 31).

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