To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Burmese counterpart on the protection and promotion of women's rights in that country.
The Government takes a leading position on the protection and promotion of women's rights in Burma. The last substantive engagement was when the Minister for the Commonwealth and UN, my noble Friend, the Rt Hon. Baroness Anelay of St Johns visited Burma last November in her capacity as the Prime Minister's Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. In that capacity she specifically raised the issue of sexual violence with the Burmese Minister of Defence, where she pressed him to handle allegations of sexual violence against women in a thorough and transparent manner. She also attended a workshop to address stigma related to sexual violence in conflict, co-hosted by the Embassy and Tearfund.
In addition to political lobbying, protecting and promoting women's rights is mainstreamed throughout our programme work. A large part of the Department for International Development programme in Burma supports the women, peace and security agenda. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also funded, and continues to fund, organisations to help tackle sexual violence. As part of this we have translated the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict into Burmese and promoted its use locally.
Human rights is central to our engagement with Burma, and we continue to press Burma to improve its human rights performance. To this end, the UK supported the Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March, renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma, who has done much to report on violations, including of women's rights.