On 15-16 June, Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Anelay, visited Geneva where she met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Bin Ra’ad Al Hussein to discuss key UN human rights priorities.
In her capacity as the newly appointed Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Minister also hosted a roundtable discussion focussed on Women, Peace and Security and PSVI issues and met with a number of organisations which carry out crucial frontline work with survivors of sexual violence in conflict. These included the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organisation for Migration, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
As part of a wide-ranging programme at the beginning of the 29th Human Rights Council session, Baroness Anelay delivered an address to the Council, which set out the UK Government’s approach to human rights and raised concern about Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine. (Baroness Anelay’s address can be found here).
Baroness Anelay completed her visit by delivering a speech during the Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations at the Ambassador’s Residence in Geneva, promoting British values as enshrined in the Magna Carta; and emphasising the UK’s commitment to a rules based international order during the UN’s 70th anniversary.
Baroness Anelay said:
I was delighted to make my third trip to Geneva to attend the June session of the Human Rights Council. In too many countries around the world, we are witnessing the erosion of fundamental human rights. My address to the Council provided an opportunity for the UK to champion our protection and promotion of these rights, and to focus attention on those areas of greatest importance to the UK.
As the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, I met with representatives from leading partner countries and organisations to discuss building on our work in this crucial area. I am extremely proud of the lead role the UK has played so far in driving a global change in attitudes towards sexual violence. But there is much left to do.
The 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta coincided with my visit, lending the theme to this year’s Queens Birthday celebrations, which I was able to attend. More than ever, Magna Carta serves as one of our strongest emblems of democratic freedoms and the rule of law.
This ancient document represents values and traditions at the heart of our way of life: limits to executive power, guaranteed access to justice, due process. These values remain as relevant today as 800 years ago, both in the UK and globally. They are vital to achieving security and prosperity in the modern world.
I was proud to be marking this anniversary in Geneva, and to champion the democratic principles which shape our foreign policy.
Notes to Editors
- The 29th session of the Human Rights Council started on 15 June and will run until 3 July.
- Baroness Anelay`s meetings with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Director General of the International Organisation for Migration gave her the opportunity to share UK plans in response to the loss of life in the Mediterranean, and to discuss measures to tackle the flow of migration.
- Her meeting with the International Committee of the Red Cross included discussion of UK priorities and preparation for the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross/Red Crescent in December.