August 31, 2010


Human rights are key to our foreign policy: We must harness Britain's generosity and compassion to help the rest of the world (William Hague, 8/31/10, Daily Telegraph)

It is not in our character as a nation to stand by while others are in need, or to be unmoved when they are denied the hard-won freedoms and protections that we enjoy in Britain as a result of centuries of striving for individual rights within a democratic society.

It is a sad fact that there are scores of countries in the world where human rights are severely curtailed. Somalia, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo and North Korea are just some of the many countries where people endure war, want or political oppression. There is no single country that has the power to transform this situation alone. In the end, strong institutions and the rule of law are the only lasting guarantee of freedoms, and we all know that these things take a long time to build and must be constantly nurtured.

But this does not diminish the centrality of human rights in the core values of our foreign policy. We cannot have a foreign policy without a conscience. Foreign policy is domestic policy written large. The values we live by at home do not stop at our shores. Human rights are not the only issue that informs the making of foreign policy, but they are indivisible from it, not least because the consequences of foreign policy failure are human. When ceasefires break down or unchecked climate change takes hold, ordinary people suffer. Where there is lawlessness, human rights abuses inevitably follow, affecting our security in the UK as well as affronting our common humanity. [...]

We will continue to raise human rights concerns wherever they arise, whether with our oldest and staunchest allies, authoritarian regimes or emerging democracies. We will use the persistent and painstaking mobilisation of our resources and of our diplomacy to make progress on this core value of UK foreign policy. For the right foreign policy for Britain is one that includes ambition for what we can achieve for others as well as ourselves, that seeks to inspire others with our values and that is resolute in its support for those around the world who are striving to free themselves from poverty or political repression.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2010 6:09 AM
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