Opposition Day Debate: Refugees and Human Rights

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written statement – made on 12th March 2018.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

Her Majesty’s Government welcomed the heartfelt and well-informed debate on this highly topical subject on 24 January 2017, and therefore did not oppose the motion.

Human rights are at the very heart of the UK’s foreign policy. These rights, as set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. These rights apply equally to all humankind. Her Majesty’s Government will continue to champion these rights across the globe. This is the right thing to do, legally, ethically and morally. It is also in the nation’s interest: full respect for human rights is a key requisite for free, prosperous and secure societies.

The UK supports a coordinated and comprehensive approach in meeting the challenges of unmanaged migration, working with our European and other partners. That means addressing the drivers of migration as well as their consequences, targeting the organised immigration crime groups which facilitate movement into Europe, and helping to provide assistance and opportunities for migrants to stay closer to home.

Her Majesty’s Government believes that promoting respect for all and fighting intolerance and justice helps build inclusion and stable communities. In September the Prime Minister announced a new Call to Action to combat the heinous crime of modern slavery which has already attracted over 40 endorsements. The Foreign Secretary has put girls’ education at the heart of the diplomatic work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: ensuring girls’ full access to twelve years of quality education is key to improving stability, reducing conflict and delivering prosperity. We continue to raise concerns regarding attacks on LGBT rights, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression.

Her Majesty’s Government continues to encourage robust international action in dealing with the threats posed by climate change. We are committed to ensuring that the Paris Agreement on climate change is implemented effectively, and that global momentum on reducing emissions is maintained. It is also vital that all countries unite to adapt to the changes that have already taken place and to build resilience to the impacts of climate change in those countries most threatened. We have consistently encouraged robust international action on climate security. We are leading by example. The UK has committed a further £5.8 billion in climate finance between 2016 and 2021, as part of the collective effort to mobilise $100bn of climate finance a year from a range of sources.

Her Majesty’s Government is also in the forefront of efforts on conflict resolution. For example, when the Foreign Secretary visited Burma in February 2018 he pressed the Government of Burma to put in place the conditions to allow for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, with international oversight, and to insist that the Rohingya should be fully involved in the process. In Syria the United Kingdom has allocated £1.3 billion to meet the needs of refugees and host communities in the region, and we have committed to resettle up to 23,000 of the most vulnerable refugees to the UK. We continue to press all parties to the Libyan conflict to find a sustainable political situation. Elsewhere in Africa, we continue to support some of the most long-term refugee populations, in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and South Sudan.

Her Majesty’s Government will continue to champion the rights of the most vulnerable, working with the international community. Human rights are for all, wherever they may be. The international community has to work together to ensure that these rights are fully respected.