Welcome! Special invited guests all! And thank you so much for being here on this important day to celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
When I became British Ambassador to Guatemala, I aimed to highlight the good things Britain has to offer. It has been an easy task, because I’m very proud of my country.
My prime Minister has said: A nation’s prosperity is not determined by its geography, its climate, its people’s ethnicity or its religion. It’s determined by the openness and accountability of its government and the strength of its institutions.
I’m proud that the UK is one of the most transparent countries in the world. We have effective legislation and strong accountability standards.
It’s not a coincidence that the UK remains as one of the world’s greatest destinations for foreign investment and raking within the top ten of the World Bank’s Doing Business.
We are sharing with Guatemala some of these principles. We are partners with Guatemala in international initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership, the EITI and COST programmes.
We work together with government, civil society, private sector and international organisations to talk about corruption; transparency and checks and balances on official power.
These principles are so strong and timeless that you can see their roots in legislation that is 800 years old this year: the Magna Carta.
Indeed some might say that Magna Carta’s origin, in a confrontation between a King who ignored the economic and political interests of those from whom he derived his power, is a powerful reminder to modern politicians of the need for the State to base its actions on the will of its people.
This will be particularly relevant for both the UK and Guatemala this year; both our countries are holding a general election process.
I’m also proud of our democratic tradition. I hope politicians will draw inspiration from the Magna Carta on the relationships between State, the individual and justice: Power is not to be exercised in an unconstrained way; that the State is answerable to its citizens; that there must be due process… In short the “rule of law”.
So I want to take a few minutes to highlight what I see as the important work that we are doing with your leadership.
We are continuing to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law; we are working closely with the judiciary on training judges about issues of relevance such as contraband, and money laundering. And we are working with other partners to address human rights concerns, like violence against women and children.
We know that the challenge of staying on a course of open and transparent government, takes time. And that’s why we have to embed these principles to which I referred previously in our approach to Guatemala and stay with them. There are no quick fixes here at all.
Nonetheless the United Kingdom is committed to work with Guatemala and other partners to address those challenges. A good example is the work we have taken forward with other partners in favour of girls’ rights. These are very timely in the upcoming commemoration of International Women’s Day on 8th March. We want to pay tribute to those women that are forging a better future for their countries through their leadership and vision. And amongst them, our Queen.
So I would like to thank you all for being here and propose a toast for Her Majesty on her birthday.
Especially the British community and the British Embassy staff in our National Day.
Her Majesty The Queen!