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Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Training

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 27th June 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of establishing bespoke training on freedom of religion or belief for his Department's staff on a country-by-country basis.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Religion and Diplomacy course, delivered by the London School of Economics Faith Centre, is available to all staff and is primarily aimed at FCO staff designated for roles where an understanding of religion is key to their work.

FCO Directorates and posts also arrange ad hoc activities such as courses, seminars and roundtables to allow their staff to explore religious themes with academic experts and faith leaders. Examples include a seminar on 19 March 2018 by Dr Anna Rowlands on Catholic Social Teaching, a course on political Islam organised in January 2017, and a seminar on Islamist ideology: history and contemporary developments in January 2018.

The right to Freedom of Religion or Belief is also included in the Diplomatic Academy's training offer to staff on human rights.

Where more detailed learning is required on a specific country or issue, diplomats are encouraged to reach out to FCO research analysts, recognised experts in academia, civil society and elsewhere to supplement their knowledge.

Given the existing options, at this stage we do not see a need to establish additional bespoke training on freedom of religion or belief on a country-by-country basis.

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