The FCO was timid and inconsistent in the discussions which led to the decision to award to Sri Lanka the right to host the 2013 CHOGM. It should have taken a more robust approach since, in a wide ranging report on the Foreign Office's human rights work.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office should have taken a more principled stand in its approach to the planned Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November.
The FCO was timid and inconsistent in the discussions which led to the decision to award to Sri Lanka the right to host the 2013 CHOGM, and it should have been taking a more robust approach since, in the light of continuing human rights abuses in the country. In a report published today, the Foreign Affairs Committee says that in 2009 the FCO objected to Sri Lanka hosting the 2011 CHOGM but did not obstruct a proposal that it might do so in 2013, nor did it insist that Sri Lanka’s right to host in 2013 should be conditional on improvements in human rights.
The Committee took evidence from the BBC World Service on jamming and denial of access to its broadcast and internet services, particularly in Iran and China. The report says that it would be "astonishing" if the BBC World Service’s work in projecting the UK, its values and strengths across the world were to be diminished because of a lack of resources to protect broadcasts from interference. The Committee calls on the BBC to recognise in future funding plans the need to provide the resources necessary to afford that protection.
The Committee also concludes that providers of satellite services have a commercial interest in defeating jamming. All satellite providers, not just those directly affected by jamming, should take a concerted approach in investing in the necessary technology, and the Government should be encouraging them to do so.
The report considers Government policy on human rights in Burma and concludes that the EU’s decision to lift economic sanctions in April 2013 was the right one, given the remarkable progress made in Burma. But it warns that the UK should be prepared to advocate re-imposition of sanctions if undertakings on human rights are not followed through. The Government should also urge opposition leaders in Burma, as well as the Government, to condemn those responsible for violence in Rakhine State in 2012.
2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Committee does not support suggestions that the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games should be boycotted in protest against human rights abuses in Russia. It concludes that the Games provide a platform for concerns to be voiced in a way which is difficult for the host country to brush aside.