Refugees and Human Rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:06 pm on 24th January 2018.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 2:06 pm, 24th January 2018

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Asia and the Pacific wants to refer to climate change in his winding-up speech, but our determination on climate change has, again, provided a sense of leadership. We have played an influential role in reaching international climate change agreements, including the Paris accord, and we are among the world’s leading providers of climate finance. We are committed to the Paris agreement limits, which aim to limit global temperature rises to less than 2 °C. Wherever there are areas in which we can continue to improve, we shall do so, but on climate change leadership, the United Kingdom’s position is very clear.

On international humanitarian rights, I reiterate the UK’s commitment to international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. As a signatory to the 1951 refugee convention and its additional protocol, the UK has a long tradition of providing assistance and protection to those who need it most. We are the first G7 nation to have enshrined in law our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid, and that aid provides a lifeline to millions.

The first change I want to put to the House is that refugee crises are increasingly counted in decades, not months and years, and the humanitarian system is overstretched. This is why the UK is now leading a global shift to longer-term approaches to refugee assistance and protection. It is one that restores dignity to refugees and offers them a more viable future where they are, and one that ensures sustainable jobs, livelihoods and access to essential services both for refugees and the communities that host them. We aim to embed this approach in the UN global compact on refugees due to be adopted later this year.