The FCO's Human Rights Work 2010-11 - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents


Written evidence from World Vision UK

World Vision is a child focused Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, their families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. We are the world's biggest local charity, working in 100 countries and to improve the lives of 100 million people worldwide. We have three million supporters and employ 40,000 locally based staff, 97% of whom are nationals of the country in which they work.

World Vision believes the best way to change the life of a child is to change the world in which they live. We see children and their communities as active participants in shaping a better future, empowering them to find sustainable solutions to poverty.

World Vision welcomes this opportunity to provide written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on the FCO's human rights work 2010-11.

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS (p.32-33)

World Vision welcomes the statement in the FCO report, "Human Rights and Democracy: The 2010 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report" that "the UK Government's embassies and high commissions promote child rights internationally" and the examples given of this, as well as the UK Government's involvement in the 2010 negotiations on the drafting of a third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

However, World Vision is concerned that the restricted focus of this section of the report to these two areas of work indicates a watering-down of the FCO's approach to children's rights and a reneging on the Foreign Secretary's commitment in September 2010 that "The will be no downgrading of human rights under this Government".[37]

In 2007, the Government "identified the rights of the child as a key human rights theme to prioritise"[38] and identified a number of tools, over and above their network of posts overseas, which they would use to support children's rights internationally. These tools included:

—  A child rights panel comprised of NGOs and experts in the field of child rights to support the FCO's implementation and promotion of child rights—The FCO has indicated that there are no plans to reconvene this panel.

     Recommendation: The FCO should ensure experts in the field of child rights, drawn from non-governmental organisations, including academic institutions, with international reach, are included in the Foreign Secretary's new Human Rights Advisory Group that meets twice a year.

—  The Global Opportunities Fund (GOF) Human Rights Programme, which included the promotion of child rights as a core objective and child rights as a particular focus for project funding. This Fund is no longer operational—The new Human Rights and Democracy Programme announced on 1 February 2011 by the Foreign Secretary does not specifically refer to children's rights.

     Recommendation: The FCO should insert a strand into the Human Rights and Democracy Programme that specifically supports programmes that contribute to creating and supporting enabling environments for children's rights in priority countries.

World Vision UK is disappointed that the FCO has indicated that it will not be renewing their child rights strategy, which sought to encourage universal ratification and implementation of key instruments for the protection and promotion of children's rights as well as to guide action on specific issues of violence against children in priority countries.

The FCO should fill this gap by working with other government departments to develop a joint strategy on this issue. This would support greater coherence in relation to the UK Government's objectives and activities in relation to children's rights internationally.

Recommendation: The FCO should work with other UK Government departments responsible for policy which has significant implications for the lives of children in economically poor countries and countries affected by conflict (such as the UK Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change) to develop a joint strategy on children's rights based on shared analysis of the child rights situation in priority countries.

Recommendation: The FCO should ensure the existence of cross-government mechanisms to implement this strategy and that strong incentives are in place across government to ensure these mechanisms work in practice.[39]

CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT (p.66-67)

World Vision welcomes the UK Government's commitment to "ending violations of children's rights in conflict-affected countries and, in particular, to stopping the recruitment and use of child soldiers."

However, World Vision is disappointed that the UK Government still fails to set an example of establishing high standards on the issue of children and armed conflict by failing to remove the interpretative declaration on the minimum age for recruitment and participation in hostilities entered upon ratifying the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The UK Government therefore continues to permit a lower standard for children in the UK than that proposed by the international community.

Recommendation: The FCO should work with the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the UK Government's interpretative declaration on the minimum age for recruitment and participation in hostilities as an indication of its commitment to the human rights of children impacted by armed conflict.

World Vision UK is also disappointed that the Government is not taking forward plans to revise its strategy in relation to children and armed conflict.

Recommendation: The FCO should work with the UK Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence to develop a joint UK Government strategy on children and armed conflict.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (pp. 22-23)

World Vision welcomes the support the UK Government has given to the ICC over the past year. The UK Government has taken a leading role in promoting and supporting the work of the ICC, and it should continue to use its influence to ensure that the Court enables children or their representatives to seek remedies or reparations when their protection rights have been violated.

There is growing evidence that children are being increasingly targeted in conflicts.[40] World Vision believes the UK Government could do more to emphasise the specific needs of children in the ICC process. The ICC will increasingly play an important integrated role in the protection of children, particularly those affected by conflict and fragility and the UK Government should work with the ICC to maximise the beneficial impact this will have for children, and limit the risks it can bring.

We also welcome the diplomatic efforts the UK has made to promote the wider ratification of the Rome Statute.

Recommendation: The UK Government should work towards reforming the ICC in order to meet the needs of children. It should prioritise reforms to ensure:

—  The Rome Statute is in line with existing international child rights and labour laws.

—  That children are systematically prioritised across the ICC's work, at all legal stages—opting to monitor, investigate, try and punish crimes committed against children.

—  Improved interaction of the ICC with children. This should include prioritising grave crimes against children and prosecuting them in a timely manner.

—  The ICC improves its interaction with other child protection actors and initiatives, particularly its formal relationship with the UN Security Council, sharing information directly with the working group for children and armed conflict (of which the UK Government is a key member).

—  The ICC maintains a strong and focused field presence and manages its outreach activities to target children and those protecting children in affected communities so that they are informed and can better respond to threats of violence against children.

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

—  The FCO should ensure experts in the field of child rights, drawn from non-governmental organisations, including academic institutions, with international reach, are included in the Foreign Secretary's new Human Rights Advisory Group that meets twice a year.

—  The FCO should insert a strand into the Human Rights and Democracy Programme that specifically supports programmes that contribute to creating and supporting enabling environments for children's rights in priority countries.

—  The FCO should work with other UK Government departments responsible for policy which has significant implications for the lives of children in economically poor countries and countries affected by conflict (such as the UK Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change) to develop a joint strategy on children's rights based on shared analysis of the child rights situation in priority countries.

—  The FCO should ensure the existence of cross-government mechanisms to implement this strategy and that strong incentives are in place across government to ensure these mechanisms work in practice.

—  The FCO should work with the Ministry of Defence to withdraw the UK Government's interpretative declaration on the minimum age for recruitment and participation in hostilities as an indication of its commitment to the human rights of children impacted by armed conflict.

—  The FCO should work with the UK Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence to develop a joint UK Government strategy on children and armed conflict.

—  The UK Government should work towards reforming the ICC in order to meet the needs of children. It should prioritise reforms to ensure:

—  The Rome Statute is in line with existing international child rights and labour laws.

—  That children are systematically prioritised across the ICC's work, at all legal stages—opting to monitor, investigate, try and punish crimes committed against children.

—  Improved interaction of the ICC with children. This should include prioritising grave crimes against children and prosecuting them in a timely manner.

—  The ICC improves its interaction with other child protection actors and initiatives, particularly its formal relationship with the UN Security Council, sharing information directly with the working group for children and armed conflict (of which the UK Government is a key member).

—  The ICC maintains a strong and focused field presence and manages its outreach activities to target children and those protecting children in affected communities so that they are informed and can better respond to threats of violence against children.

28 April 2011


37   Speech made on 15 September 2010 on "Britain's values in a networked world" http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=Speech&id=22862713 Back

38   FCO Strategy on Child Rights (2007) Back

39   Research by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) on policy coherence for development, commissioned by World Vision UK in 2010, concluded that "greater coherence is not usually being prevented by a lack of cross-government mechanisms. While particular barriers to cooperation and coordination can be identified, a more important issue is the incentives (or lack of incentives) in government to make these mechanisms work well in practice." Matthew Lockwood and Sarah Mulley, with Emily Jones, Alex Glennie, Katie Paintin and Andrew Pendleton, Policy coherence and the future of the UK's international development agenda: A report to World Vision UK, (ippr, 2010), p75. Back

40   Gow, M, 2002. World Vision International, The International Criminal Court: Finding Justice for Victims, Ending Impunity for Perpetrators. Back


 
previous page contents next page


© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 20 July 2011