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UN Human Rights Council

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 3rd March 2015.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Opposition Whip (Commons) 11:30 am, 3rd March 2015

What his priorities are for the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

Our priorities include the renewal of UN mandates on Syria, Burma and Iran, increasing international attention on Libya, Ukraine and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to UN reports on Gaza and ISIL activity in Iraq, and thematic resolutions on freedom of religion or belief, combating religious intolerance, and privacy. My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Anelay is representing us at the session.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Opposition Whip (Commons)

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer, but does he not see that Government attempts to undermine the European convention on human rights damage our international reputation on this issue and diminish our influence on human rights?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

No, and if the hon. Lady looks at our record, particularly when this Government held the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, she will see that, on the contrary, we upheld the standards and values embodied in the convention and successfully negotiated sensible, pragmatic reforms to the way in which the convention is implemented that are in the interests of all states.

Photo of Mary Glindon Mary Glindon Labour, North Tyneside

What does the Minister think this session’s high-level panel on the death penalty can achieve, particularly when so many Human Rights Council members use the death penalty?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

It is true, of course, that many of the members of the Human Rights Council, who have been elected by the membership of the United Nations generally, still have the death penalty. The United Kingdom, both at the UN Human Rights Council and in our bilateral and multilateral relationships of all kinds, continues to stress that we regard the death penalty as completely unacceptable.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

Will the Minister use the opportunity of the Human Rights Council to raise the human rights crisis in central America, in particular in Mexico? Will he also raise these matters with President Peña Nieto during his visit and tie any future trade developments with Mexico to improvements in its human rights record and dealing with those who killed, probably, the 43 students—but also thousands of others who have died—and the forces that have acted with impunity in that country?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

The hon. Gentleman will recall from the recent debate in Westminster Hall, in which he and I spoke, that we have a strong relationship with Mexico. We use that to seek improvements to Mexico’s human rights record and to give Mexico practical help in trying to improve its judicial and police systems in particular. That work will continue.