Rob Fenn has been Head of the FCO’s Human Rights and Democracy Department (HRDD) since March 2014.
The department is partly a repository of human rights expertise. But it is mainly a clearing house for real world human rights problems encountered by UK policy makers and representatives in every corner of the world. His greatest professional satisfaction is helping hard-pressed colleagues on the frontline identify “what works” in their particular local circumstance. As the Foreign Secretary puts it, human rights should be “part of the everyday work of all British diplomats”.
Rob’s last formal responsibility for human rights was in the mid 1990s, when he served as UK Delegate on the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York, and attended annual sessions of what was then the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
The intervening 20 years have flown: in Rome (EU/Economics), in London (Southern European Department), in Nicosia (Deputy High Commissioner) and latterly in Bandar Seri Begawan as High Commissioner. Rob, Julia and their two sons loved Brunei. The family’s activities included expeditions upriver to help conserve the Sultanate’s stunning biodiversity, and home movie making (in Brunei it is almost impossible to take a bad photograph).
After all those saturated colours, Rob worried that the move back to Britain might feel like a shift into black and white. But reunion with friends and colleagues has been ample compensation. Besides, London is still the best city in the world.
Deputy Head of Mission to Indonesia, ASEAN and Timor Leste
Previous roles in government
British High Commissioner to Brunei
- 2009 to 2013