Human Rights and International Law

British foreign policy and human rights: From low to high politics
Sally Morphet
from Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy: Foundations of Peace, David P. Forsythe, ed.
United Nations University


I. Introduction

British foreign policy on human rights has been driven primarily by three factors: Britain's own national development; its perceived national interests; and international discourse and action on human rights. Understanding Britain's national development helps to explain why there is no general consensus on human rights within Britain and how this has affected the main political parties. In general there are both differences and similarities between British human rights foreign policy and that of its main partners — certain continental Europeans and the United States. British governments have normally concentrated on the promotion and protection of civil and political rights plus occasionally a few economic and social rights (e.g. the right to education). 1 Arms sales and aid policy in the 1990s are discussed in the section on bilateral policy.

The chapter begins by looking at the historical development of Britain's interest in human rights both domestically and internationally before it joined the European Economic Community (EEC, now the European Union) in 1973 and became a founding member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE) in 1975. It goes on to discuss the presentation of British foreign policy in this area in three Foreign Policy Documents of 1978, 1991, and 1996 following British ratification of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1976, and the new directions introduced by the incoming Labour government in 1997 and the means through which it operates. It then explores the major domestic factors influencing British human rights foreign policy and goes on to delineate British multilateral and bilateral human rights policy (on both a global and a regional level).

In many ways the analysis bears out the contention that foreign policy may be most usefully considered not in terms of the legal and constitutional framework of sovereignty and statehood, of law-making and war-making, but rather as the product of a complex interplay of international, transnational, and domestic influences. 2 But, as will also be seen, law (both national and international) and respect for law remain central to the development of human rights foreign policy in Britain 3 for all political parties. This is why the main emphasis in this chapter is given to the rights from the Universal Declaration that were put into legally binding form in the ICCPR and the ICESCR and the similar rights in the European Convention on Human Rights and its concomitant Social Charter.

II. The historical context

In terms of human rights Britain has been particularly influenced by its distinctive history and its concern for precedent as well as by its general Western and conservative orientation on human rights questions.

The basic history

The English Bill of Rights of 1689 is usually regarded as the first major document of modern constitutional history. Lauterpacht argues that, although it was the work of Churchmen and of the rich Whig gentry who perpetuated their hold on the country to the exclusion of the masses of the people by submitting the Crown to the supremacy of Parliament and by enthroning the right of resistance as part of a fundamental constitutional document, it accomplished the greatest thing done by the English nation. 4 It contained such civil rights as equality before the law, trial by jury, and the prohibition of inhuman treatment and of excessive bail or fines. 5 (Freedom from arbitrary arrest had already been secured by the Habeas Corpus Acts of 1640 and 1679.) Political rights proclaimed included the prohibition of the levying of money without the consent of Parliament, and provision for the free election of Members of Parliament, for frequent sessions, and for immunity of the proceedings of Parliament. However the Bill was not designed to "establish a comprehensive set of rights for the people as a whole" and tended to reinforce "existing inequalities and discriminations" by, for example, giving special rights to Protestants, "who alone were allowed to bear arms." 6

Freedom of the press was established by the decision not to renew the Licensing Act in 1695, and the beginning of religious freedom was established by the Toleration Act of 1689. Independence of the judiciary was established by the Act of Settlement (1700).

This British tradition stemmed from constitutional charters of liberty (in particular the Magna Carta), a strong legal framework, and the ideas of men like Locke who considered that sovereignty pertained to the people as a whole and that the individual conveyed to society as a whole the right to exercise certain functions best exercised collectively. 7 This tradition was one of the principal factors behind the major eighteenth-century declarations on rights in the United States (the 1776 Virginia Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence) and France (the Declarations of 1789 and of 1793, which included references to economic and social rights). 8

These latter influenced a number of European and Latin American constitutions in the nineteenth century. By contrast, the rights that came to the fore in Britain and the United States at the same time were those concerned with political participation, a transformation linked to democratization. 9 Solutions to the problems posed by the industrial revolution were often couched in terms of economic and social rights. Trade unions were legalized in Britain progressively from 1871. The International Labour Organization (ILO; now a UN specialized agency) was set up by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, though it was not controlled by the League of Nations.

These developments had been enriched by a long-standing tradition of Western thinking going back to the Greeks, followed by Stoic conceptions of natural law and the emergence of Christianity with its assumption that Christians must distinguish between service to God and the State; to the affirmation of the existence of a natural higher law in the Middle Ages and its tradition of charters of liberties, rights, and franchises; and to Vitoria, who in the sixteenth century argued that primitive peoples were entitled to the protection of law. These ideas were put into a modern international context with the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which contained provisions about the rights of religious groups and ushered in the system of equal sovereign states with the ending of the Thirty Years War and the claims of superiority of the Holy Roman Empire. Grotius had already maintained (1625) that standards of justice applicable to individuals were valid in relation to states and originated the idea of humanitarian intervention for the protection of individual rights. Ideas on self-determination for states began to be expressed during the nineteenth century with the setting up of states such as Greece and the unification of Germany and Italy. They were given an even greater prominence by President Wilson after the First World War and were behind the institution of mandates by the League of Nations.

The 1940s to the 1960s

The carnage of the Second World War propelled human rights ideas forward, giving rise to the making of the UN Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration (1948), and the two succeeding major Covenants — the ICCPR and the ICESCR — which put the rights in the Human Rights Declaration into binding legal instruments. Britain played a major part in this standard-setting and in the making of similar regional instruments — the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) of 1953, which set up a Court of Human Rights, and its accompanying Social Charter (1965).

One major British interest that then needed to be protected was its colonial inheritance. Both its major political parties considered in the 1940s that colonial rule was not an oppressive relationship, but rather a partnership between Britain and its dependent territories. 10 This concern influenced British policy towards the right of individual petition and self-determination. The government feared that individual petition might be used as a weapon of political agitation in the Cold War and that it might subvert the respect of dependent peoples for the established imperial authorities. 11 They therefore made sure that individual petition was added to the first Protocol of the ICCPR (which Britain has never ratified) and not to the ICCPR itself or to the draft ECHR. 12 The government also tried, unsuccessfully, to ensure that the article on self-determination was not added to the draft Covenants by the United Nations' third world constituency. By the early 1960s, however, decolonization had made the issue less urgent and the political implications of the articles on self-determination seemed less important.1 13 Britain accepted the right of petition for individuals in Britain under the ECHR as early as 1966, 14 and for individuals in its Crown Dependencies and dependent territories in 1967. It signed both the Covenants in 1968.

By the 1960s human rights were given more publicity as international outrage over the South African government's apartheid policies grew in the United Nations (particularly after the admission of 16 Black African states in 1960) and in the Commonwealth — fanned by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the British-based Anti-Apartheid Movement founded in 1959. 15 The British government voted for the preparation of a UN Convention against Racial Discrimination in 1963, 16 and in 1965 passed the first British Race Relations Act and voted for the ensuing Convention. In 1966 it decided "that Articles 55 and 56 of the Charter impose on member Governments of the United Nations a positive obligation to pursue a policy designed to promote respect for and observance of human rights and to co-operate within the United Nations to that end ... The South African government's policy over apartheid is a clear breach of obligation according to this interpretation." This generous interpretation of Articles 55 and 56 enabled the British government both to avoid using Article 2.7 (on intervention in the domestic jurisdiction of a state) and to express concern more appropriately over human rights breaches in other states. The British government went on to ratify the Racial Discrimination Convention in 1969 and presented its first report to the monitoring Committee in 1971.

III. Basic elements of British human rights foreign policy

There is much continuity between aspects of British human rights policies in the 1970s and subsequently. Britain was influenced by its new membership of the European Economic Community, which it joined in 1973, and its participation in the 1973-1975 diplomatic meeting that launched the on-going Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Overall the main thrust of its policy moved from concern with colonial issues and standard-setting to the problems raised by the implementation of human rights legal standards at both international and regional level, and the continuing debate on the place of human rights in foreign policy following British ratification of both the ICCPR and the ICESCR in 1976 — the year they came into force. In 1977, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) minister, Evan Luard, began a detailed examination of British human rights policy. This, in a new departure in 1978, was given a partial public airing in a Foreign Policy Document on British Policy towards the United Nations. 17 This document and two subsequent Foreign Policy Documents of 1991 and 1996 (both called Human Rights in Foreign Policy) issued after the end of the Cold War, described below, remain some of the most useful sources for British government thinking about human rights and foreign policy over this period. They have been built on by the new Labour government since May 1997.

The Foreign Policy Documents — 1978, 1991, 1996

The 1978 Foreign Policy Document included a 13-page British paper on "Human Rights and Foreign Policy," which tried to answer a number of questions on a range of human rights foreign policy issues. What steps can be taken in relation to other countries where glaring violations of human rights occur? This looked at 14 categories of possible actions that could be taken, as well as the United Kingdom's legal and political standing to raise human rights with foreign governments; policy considerations; possible aid adjustments; arms exports; and trade sanctions. Should the government attempt a consistent application of rules or treat each country on an ad hoc basis? The important answer was that Britain should have a consistent posture on human rights throughout the world; the government should undertake an annual consideration of the performance of each country and the implications for British policy towards it; posts should include regular reports on this area; submissions and briefings to ministers on, for instance, arms and aid should refer to human rights issues. Should the government concentrate particularly on the worst offenders of all? The FCO should consider this but should avoid the appearance of a vendetta. It should work with the EEC, the United States, and Commonwealth partners.

On the UN side it asked: What action can Britain take to improve the effectiveness of the UN Commission on Human Rights in dealing with such questions? The government should try to improve the effectiveness of the Commission in conjunction with other Western countries. What other actions are open to the government to improve the United Nations' performance in this field? It should continue to press for a High Commissioner for Human Rights and find ways of improving the United Nations' performance on human rights by pressing the British General Assembly initiative of 1974 on alternative ways of improving the enjoyment of human rights in the UN system.

On other possibilities it noted, could the government expand the activities of other organs? It should explore the possibility of establishing regional commissions with Britain's EC partners, beginning in Africa. Are there particular human rights issues and abuses that the government should press particularly hard to discuss? The British priority should remain violations against the integrity of the person. Britain should recognize the third world emphasis on economic rights but should not allow this as an excuse for the violation of basic human rights.

What can the government do to support the non-official organizations, such as the International Commission for Jurists, Amnesty International, and so on? It should continue to support them without infringing their independence. What more can or should Britain do in public statements to demonstrate its concern on such matters? The government should continue making statements in appropriate venues, including the House of Commons. What steps should it take to consult and cooperate with other governments, especially its EEC partners and the United States, in any or all of these actions? Britain should continue to work with the EEC, the United States and other NATO allies, the Commonwealth and like-minded nations including non-Western countries with excellent human rights records.

The 1978 Foreign Policy Document went on to give details of British bilateral human rights policy in the context of aid, arms exports, and trade. On aid it revealed that ministers had privately urged Indonesian leaders to release detainees, and that at a recent meeting of the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (an international aid donors' consortium) the leader of the British delegation had pointed out that the early release of detainees would make it easier to defend its aid to Indonesia. It noted that the government had decided not to offer aid to the mining equipment sector in Bolivia or to enter into new aid commitments to Ethiopia. In two cases (both under the previous Conservative government) Britain had phased out its aid entirely following serious human rights violations: Uganda in November 1972 and Chile 18 in March 1974 (except for a small educational technical cooperation programme). Britain had also used its influence in the EEC on Uganda and Equatorial Guinea. On arms exports it stated that there had been embargoes on arms sales to South Africa since 1964 and to Chile since 1974. Exports of arms and military equipment were subject to license by officials at the Department of Trade after consulting the Ministry of Defence, the FCO, and, sometimes, ministers. More problems occurred in the context of trade, where the only example was the special case of Rhodesia. Using trade as a means of putting pressure created problems: the mechanics were difficult; markets could also simply be handed to British competitors; retaliation against British investments or exports could also be expected.

The pamphlet also supported the use of the confidential ECOSOC 1503 procedure (examining complaints against countries sent to the UN Secretary-General by individuals and NGOs) by the UN Human Rights Commission. It noted that Britain had used it to pursue the cases of both Uganda and Chile.

The Labour government felt comfortable with the US Carter administration, 19 which had both written the first comprehensive Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and, in October 1977, signed both Covenants. In the section on human rights at the United Nations in the Foreign Policy Document, the government welcomed the increased attention being devoted to human rights and its agencies and shared the US appreciation of regional human rights bodies. It considered that measures to expand UN human rights activities should be based on existing machinery and systems. It thought that the ECOSOC 1503 procedure was the most effective way of investigating human rights abuses in the UN machinery, that the Human Rights Commission should concentrate on the effective implementation of international instruments on human rights, and that Britain should continue to press for a High Commissioner on Human Rights.

This initiative was not repeated until January 1991, when detailed guidelines summarizing British policy and practice on human rights as they had evolved in recent years were published in a further Foreign Policy Document. 20 They reflected not so much a change of policy as a recognition on the part of ministers and officials, at home and abroad, that there is a need for greater emphasis on the human rights dimension of UK foreign policy. As its introduction pointed out, "developments in Eastern Europe have demonstrated both the corrosive effect that a prolonged record of human rights abuses can have on the stability of a regime and that a consistent Western policy of support for human rights can over time lend powerful impetus to forces working for political pluralism and the rule of law."

The 1991 Foreign Policy Document went on to discuss universal human rights standards; the government's standing to raise human rights; ways in which the government raises human rights (bilateral action, joint action with the EU, and multilateral action in the context of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, and the CSCE — details are given in the sections on multilateral and bilateral policy); aid; defence sales; responding to public and parliamentary concerns; raising human rights with other governments; responding to questions about Britain's own human rights performance, as well as the responsibilities of posts abroad and departments within the FCO. A further Foreign Policy Document on Human Rights in Foreign Policy was issued in 1996. 21 This, as in 1991, noted that it reflected a recognition on the part of ministers and officials that there was a need for greater emphasis on the human rights dimension of British foreign policy. It stated that Britain and other UN members had a legal obligation under the UN Charter to promote and protect human rights.

The new Labour government and human rights, 1997

On 12 May 1997 the new Labour Foreign Secretary issued a Mission Statement for the FCO whose aim was to promote the national interests of the United Kingdom and to contribute to a strong world community. Four benefits were sought: security; prosperity; quality of life; and mutual respect. For mutual respect it noted: "We shall work through international forums and bilateral relationships to spread the values of human rights, civil liberties and democracy which we demand for ourselves." He opened the press conference launching the Statement by stating: "the Labour Government will put human rights at the heart of our foreign policy and will publish an annual report on our work in promoting human rights abroad." The government also announced that it would incorporate the ECHR into British domestic law. 22

In early July 1997, a major review of British policy towards international human rights instruments was announced, including the question of accession to Protocols to the ECHR and the ICCPR and the acceptance of the right of individual petition under other human rights treaties. The government would also consider whether any of Britain's reservations to human rights treaties could be withdrawn. Britain would work to strengthen the UN Register of Conventional Arms. This was followed by a major speech 23 by the Foreign Secretary on 17 July in which he discussed six core civil and political rights from the Universal Declaration that he considered Britain had a duty to demand for those who did not yet enjoy them. He noted that the World Bank had recently concluded that the economies with faster growth were those where political equality has produced the fairest shares of income, and that the separate Department for International Development would soon publish a White Paper setting out policies for tackling global poverty and promoting sustainable development.

He then set 12 policies to put into effect the British human rights commitment, including: giving support to measures within the international community to condemn regimes that grotesquely violate human rights; supporting sanctions applied by the international community; refusing arms equipment to problematic regimes; ensuring trade measures did not undermine human rights (e.g. in the context of child labour); supporting measures at multilateral conferences and in bilateral contacts that criticize abuses of human rights; calling for observance of universal standards; supporting a permanent International Criminal Court and providing more resources for international criminal tribunals; ensuring that the UK Military Assistance Training Scheme better supports UK human rights objectives; giving stronger support to the media under threat from authoritarian regimes; publishing an annual report on the government's activities; and ensuring that Britain's own record can be respected.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), formed in 1968, 24 takes the lead on questions of human rights and foreign policy, though certain legal issues may be discussed with the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Home Office. Human rights foreign policy is, of course, ultimately set by ministers in the context of British legal obligations under the human rights instruments to which Britain is a party. The Human Rights Policy Department (formerly part of the United Nations Department) within the FCO deals with human rights issues on a regional level and throughout the UN system. This was set up as a Human Rights Policy Unit in 1992 and became a Department (HRPD) two years later. Like other FCO departments, it is advised by a Legal Adviser and has access to researchers.

Members of HRPD and diplomats from New York and Geneva discuss human rights questions at the UN Human Rights Commission (in the spring); the resolutions adopted there are then discussed in the United Nations' Economic and Social Council (in the summer), and subsequently discussed in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. HRPD also takes the lead for Britain at major conferences on human rights issues (e.g. Vienna in 1993). It provides briefing and advice to ministers and organizes the submission of the British reports to the different monitoring committees, which usually include major contributions from appropriate domestic departments. Britain now reports to six such committees. 25 HRPD officials also cover major meetings of EU members on human rights and liaise closely on human rights matters with the department that covers the Council of Europe (CoE) at Strasbourg (FCO Legal Advisers are closely involved, particularly with proceedings under the ECHR in which they act as agent for the government) and the OSCE. The ILO, which deals inter alia with trade union human rights matters, is covered by British diplomats at Geneva (as well as the Department for Education and Employment, which send officials to its annual meetings). UNESCO, which also deals with certain human rights questions, is (when Britain is a member) handled by diplomats from the British Embassy in Paris under the aegis of the Department for International Development.

Human rights matters at a country level are reported on from posts, who send reports to appropriate FCO geographical departments, to the HRPD, and to the OSCE/CoE Department. Civil servants in these and previous departments have worked closely with certain NGOs since the mid-1970s (see below). FCO researchers and others maintain close contacts with academics.

IV. Domestic factors

British citizens and their governments, both Labour and Conservative, have been highly influenced by their evolutionary inheritance, which can be contrasted with the comprehensive codes dear to many continental Europeans. As one recent book dealing with civil and political rights notes, "Citizens of the United Kingdom believe that they are among the freest people in the world, a belief going back to the ancient resistance of Anglo-Saxons to the ´Norman yoke' and the Magna Carta ... Yet the British tradition of ancient ´constitutional rights' is a double-edged legacy. This tradition conflates ideas of ´strong' government and public order with civil liberties, and the first two are usually paramount in the minds of the country's rulers." 26 It has also meant that "the revolutionary ideas of collective enforcement and the right of individual petition to independent outside bodies ... have undoubtedly proved unwelcome to British governments." 27

Another contemporary author notes the "philosophical gulf" between the British and their fellow Europeans. She argues that British cases in which the European Court of Human Rights has found a violation are most often "cases involving people in the custody of the state or who have turned to it for help," and she suggests that these cases "stem from a failure to recognize that what are at issue are rights. In so far as the constitutional system in the United Kingdom regards the interests as privileges, which need to be earned or which are residual and vulnerable to legislative or executive removal, it denies their character as rights."

She suggests that the incorporation of the ECHR will not provide a solution to the failure to recognize that what are at issue are rights. "What is needed is a change of attitude on the part not only of the institutions of government but also of the public at large. They need to learn to think in terms of rights: the incorporation of the Convention could play an educational role." 28

Another laments "the absence of a charter of fundamental rights" to provide "a framework for individual identity and action when the elements of identity provided by custom and manners no longer suffice." 29

Political parties

The intellectual inheritance noted above has affected both main political parties and meant that rights language comes more naturally to Labour supporters than to Conservatives. As will already be apparent, most of the initiatives on human rights since the Second World War have been taken by Labour rather than Conservative governments, though they have subsequently been accepted by Conservative governments. 30

Certain differences between the parties are illustrated by their 1997 election manifestos. The Conservative manifesto did not mention human rights except to state in the section on Parliament that a new Bill of Rights would risk transferring power away from Parliament to legal courts — undermining the democratic supremacy of Parliament as representative of the people. The Liberal Democrats inter alia called for the incorporation of the ECHR into British law, for the setting up of a Human Rights Commission to strengthen protection of individual rights, and for the promotion of an enforceable framework of international law, human rights, and the environment. Labour called for the incorporation of the ECHR into British law, stated it would make the protection and promotion of human rights a central part of British foreign policy, and indicated it would work for a permanent international criminal court to investigate genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.


Parliamentary interest in human rights questions has become greater over the years as the subject has gained in political importance. A cross-party Parliamentary Human Rights Group was formed in 1976. And a colloquium sponsored by British and United States NGOs on "Human Rights in United States and United Kingdom Foreign Policy" was held in the Palace of Westminster in November 1978. 31 Until 1997 the House of Commons had never focused on human rights overall. The House of Lords examined the question of human rights, democracy, and development in the context of the Council of Europe in 1992. 32 Questions of human rights, of course, also came up in, for instance, the House of Lords' examination of relations between Britain and China in 1994. The Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee decided, in 1997, to conduct an inquiry on foreign policy and human rights. The report, which came out in December 1998, covered international obligations, policy objectives, and policy implementation. 33 It attempted to assess the implementation and effects of government policies against the initial policy commitments made by the Foreign Secretary in July 1997 and made 47 specific conclusions and recommendations. The government's reply of March 1999 welcomed the endorsement of the positive changes that had been made and set out further detailed observations on the conclusions and recommendations. 34

Non-governmental organizations

Domestic pressure groups (now often acting transnationally) have played a role in the making of human rights foreign policy since the 1940s. Pressure from pro-European groups appears to have been particularly effective in the early 1950s. 35 Other well-known pressure groups often date back to the 1960s (e.g. Amnesty International founded in 1961). The first parliamentary question that referred to these new pressure groups was asked in 1966. 36 British governments have been working closely with a number of these groups in the human rights arena since the Labour government of the late 1970s first began to meet with them and discuss aspects of human rights. Many are extremely involved with aspects of the United Nations and the committees monitoring the major human rights instruments. 37 NGO representatives often meet Foreign Office officials; for example, there is an annual meeting between the leader of the Human Rights delegation to the Human Rights Commission a few weeks before its Geneva session begins. Important human rights NGOs active in British politics (not all of which are headquartered in Britain) include Amnesty International, the Anti-Slavery Society, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Interrights, International Alert, the International Commission of Jurists, the Minority Rights Group, Rights and Humanity, the Charities Aid Foundation, Penal Reform International, British Refugee Council, the Jubilee Campaign, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Index on Censorship, and the National Alliance of Women's Organizations.

NGO representatives have, on occasion, served as members of British delegations to major conferences with a major human rights aspect (e.g. the 1995 Women's conference at Beijing) and have been involved with the drafting of major conventions (e.g. the Convention on the Rights of the Child). 38 They also play a big part in hearings of the main committees monitoring British reports. In July 1995 the UN Human Rights Committee reported that the evidence from "a wide range" of organizations committed to human rights and democracy during its hearings on the UK human rights record "not only greatly assisted the Committee, but [was] also a tribute to the democratic nature of UK society" (CCPR/C/798/Add.55, para. 3). 39

The media

The British media do not give a consistent picture of the human rights activities of the British government. Governmental reports to the major monitoring committees are usually not covered, and media reporting of British government activity on human rights questions is exceptionally patchy. However, on some issues which resonate emotionally, such as apartheid, certain media campaigns have had a major influence on public opinion.

V. Multilateral policy (regional and international)

It is important to emphasize the fact that British governments' policy towards human rights questions, both past and present, has also been influenced by international factors and the international context (or climate of opinion) in which it operates. I share the analysis put forward by Martha Finnemore in which she suggests that states are more socially responsive entities than is recognized by traditional international relations theory. State policies and structures are influenced by intersubjective systemic factors, specifically by norms promulgated within the international system. 40 Since the late 1970s when, it can be argued, human rights started to become part of high politics (through British ratification of the human rights covenants in 1976 and the major speech by the Foreign Secretary in 1977), Britain has worked with regional and a variety of multilateral partners to put the major norms into practice.

Britain and regional organizations

The Council of Europe

The parties to the 1948 regional Brussels Treaty (including Britain), which reaffirmed "their faith in fundamental human rights ... and in the other ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations," 41 agreed, in London in May 1949, to establish the Council of Europe. After a series of complex negotiations at official and cabinet level (and pressure from pro-European NGOs), the government signed the ECHR (negotiated through the Council) in November 1950 and ratified it in February 1951. This outcome transpired despite the Lord Chancellor's view "that we were not prepared to encourage our European friends to jeopardize our whole system of law, which we have laboriously built up over centuries, in favour of some half-baked scheme to be administered by some unknown court." 42 The ECHR was subsequently complemented by the European Social Charter, dealing with 19 economic and social rights similar to those in the draft ICESCR. This was opened for signature in 1961, ratified by Britain in 1962 (14 years before it ratified the ICESCR), and came into force in 1965. Britain signed the revised, updated Social Charter in November 1997.

The European Court of Human Rights was inaugurated in January 1959 and, as has already been noted, the British government allowed petitions from individuals from Britain in 1966 and from its Crown Dependencies and dependent territories in 1967. It also played a major part at the first Council of Europe Ministerial Conference on Human Rights in March 1985 just after it had ratified the Eighth Protocol to the ECHR designed to reduce delays in the institutions. (In 1987 ministers decided to "Strasbourg proof" all British legislation, i.e. ensure that it could not be subject to a case in the European Court of Human Rights.) 43 Britain also ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1988.

The revival of nationalism in post-Cold War Europe soon led to concern about minority questions in Eastern Europe. In February 1995 the British government signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities. The government also raised concerns about the future constitution and functioning of the machinery of enforcement for the ECHR in 1996. The Lord Chancellor visited Strasbourg to discuss the question with the President of the European Court in November. He said that he considered that it was important that when Protocol 11 of the Convention was implemented and the Commission and Court were combined, its procedures should be such as not only to facilitate the work of the Court but also to be demonstrably fair to all parties. The British government then opened discussion on the selection of judges, court procedure, and the application of the doctrine of margin of appreciation — which it saw as important for the continuing support of the member states. 44 In 1997 the incoming Labour government announced that the ECHR would finally be incorporated into British law.

The European Union

Since Britain finally joined the EC (now the EU) on 1 January 1973 it has worked primarily with its EU colleagues in the United Nations and, of course, in the EU itself on human rights matters. It was also in the Chair in July 1986 when EC foreign ministers made their first major overall Declaration on human rights (the 1957 Treaty of Rome had made no specific reference to human rights). Ministers reaffirmed that respect for human rights was one of the cornerstones of European cooperation. They noted that "the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights as well as of civil and political rights is of paramount importance for the full realization of human dignity and for the attainment of the legitimate aspirations of every individual." 45 EC divisions on the right to development were, however, noticeable in the vote on the Declaration in the General Assembly in December 1986. Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom abstained; the other EC members voted in favour. Britain finally accepted the right to development in 1993 at the Vienna Conference.

The 1991 Foreign Policy Document 46 on Human Rights in Foreign Policy noted that the EC partners had taken action on human rights through Declarations both general (e.g. on Sudan in March and November 1989) and specific (e.g. on the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in November 1989), and demarches (around 70 in 1989 in all regions of the world) by the Presidency, the Troika or all ambassadors of the EC Twelve resident in a capital. These were usually confidential, though officials were able to refer to them in correspondence with MPs, NGOs, etc. On a multilateral level the EC states had taken joint and separate action at relevant UN and CSCE meetings. In a limited number of cases, concern among the EC states at human rights abuses had led to decisions on common action. These usually took the form of coordinated diplomatic measures, for example against Burma, China, and Noriega's Panama, but could extend to actual measures taken by the Council (e.g. the decision to rescind Romania's benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences before Ceaus«escu's fall in 1989 and the Council decision in April 1989 to suspend negotiations on an EC/Romanian agreement). In 1998 the EU, now with 15 members, took the common position that it would not support a resolution in the UN Human Rights Commission condemning China's human rights policies. The previous year, EU members had been badly divided on that same issue.

The 1991 Foreign Policy Document went on to explain that action by EC states often followed from recommendations made by Heads of Mission in joint reports on human rights. Such reports were usually commissioned by the Twelve's regional working groups or when agreement on the need for a report was reached. Guidelines for the preparation of these reports were drawn up in 1987 by the EC Working Group on Human Rights.

The subsequent 1996 Foreign Policy Document referred to the further comprehensive EU Declaration on Human Rights adopted in June 1991 and stated that to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms was also one of the declared objectives of Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also noted that joint action by the EU often carried greater weight than bilateral action. It stated that the European Union had made around 85 statements in 1995 besides taking coordinated diplomatic action against Burma and Nigeria and issuing confidential demarches.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Five of the 10 Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States in the final Helsinki Act (August 1975) of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe are to be found in the 1970 UN Friendly Relations Declaration, which was the fruit of a study of certain Charter principles, including the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples "with a view to their progressive development and codification, so as to secure their more effective application." The negotiators were also able to use language already agreed in the two main human rights Covenants. This explains why it was relatively easy to add a further Principle VII on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, and belief, to the Act. The Helsinki Final Act also had similar participants (the third world being represented by its European non-aligned members — Yugoslavia, Cyprus, and Malta); it provided useful agreed language including on aspects of human rights; and it showed that negotiation on these kinds of issues could be brought to fruition. 47

The achievements of the Conference, outlined in a House of Commons debate by a Labour FCO minister in February 1976, were: the establishment of a code of conduct between European states; the creation of confidence-building military measures; and the fact that the CSCE had "stipulated a number of ways in which the rights of individuals — the right to free movement, the right to be reunited with their families, and the right to receive information — should be safeguarded." 48 This change from low politics towards high politics was highlighted in a speech given by the new Labour Foreign Secretary, David Owen, in March 1977. In it he discussed the usefulness of the Helsinki Final Act, saying that it had already begun to be an inspiration and a point of reference for those who wanted to see their societies evolve peacefully and constitutionally in a more open direction. He went on to affirm that the Charter, the Universal Declaration, the Covenants, and the Final Act "demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt that abuses of human rights, wherever they may occur, are the legitimate subject of international concern. The dignity of man stands on values which transcend national frontiers. And in the democracies of the West it is inevitable and right that foreign policy should not only reflect the values of society, but that those who conduct foreign affairs should respond positively to the weight of public opinion and concern. In Britain we will take our stand on human rights in every corner of the globe ... We will apply the same standards and judgments to Communist countries as we do to Chile, Uganda and South Africa." 49

The incoming Conservative government in 1979 continued to play a similar role on the question of human rights and foreign policy to its Labour predecessor, though it did not give the issue such a high profile and it shifted the emphasis, even more, to East-West relations by underlining the human rights dimension of the CSCE process. In December 1980 the British minister at the CSCE Madrid review conference suggested that the meeting should first consider matters in which the framework of conduct had not been fully respected; and secondly insist on better implementation of the seventh principle on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms — particularly freedom of thought, religion, information, and movement. 50

The Vienna CSCE Follow-up Meeting ended in January 1989 with agreement on a new and continuous monitoring mechanism on human rights within the CSCE process — the Conference on the Human Dimension (CHD) mechanism. This provided four separate ways of raising with any other CSCE state specific human rights cases and situations within that state's territory. The mechanism has been invoked on a number of occasions by Britain nationally as well as jointly by the Twelve. CHD meetings assess among other things the functioning of this mechanism, and also offer a forum for reviewing other CSCE member states' overall implementation of their human rights commitments.

Britain and global international organizations

The United Nations

Britain, as one of the main Allied victors at the end of the Second World War, was able to ensure that the language in its memorandum setting out proposals for the proposed new UN Organization's purposes and principles (including human rights) was incorporated with little change into Article 1 of the UN Charter. These proposals were designed to appeal to smaller powers because they would in theory prevent the Great Powers from acting like tyrants. 51 The ensuing UN Human Rights Commission's Drafting Committee agreed in June 1947 that the articles in a British draft could be submitted as a basis for a draft convention with the addition of articles on torture, the right to a legal personality, and asylum. 52 This draft bill, agreed by a Cabinet Office committee, covered only civil and political rights, and did not include provision for either individual appeal or enforcement mechanisms. Economic and social rights (e.g. the right to work and to social security) were mentioned in a further draft General Assembly resolution, but it was noted that they could not by their nature be defined in the form of legal obligations for states. Britain voted for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948 even though it included references to economic, social, and cultural rights, which were not in its draft bill.

Britain continued to take a prominent role in putting the rights set out in the 1948 Universal Declaration into legal form. It also continued to accept, though not enthusiastically, economic, social, and cultural rights. The Human Rights Commission submitted draft texts of the articles on economic, social, and cultural rights to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly in 1954. Between 1956 and 1958 these draft articles were approved in the General Assembly with little major amendment. These negotiations undoubtedly had an effect on the negotiations then going on to complement the ECHR with a European Social Charter.

The two Covenants on civil and political and economic, social, and cultural rights were signed by Britain in 1968. This "implied an expectation that the United Kingdom would ratify the Covenants in due course. It was also consistent with the United Kingdom's view that its internal law and practice must be carefully assessed and, if necessary, amended before undertaking international obligations." 53 The Labour Foreign Secretary, in his speech to the General Assembly in September 1976, called on all states to join Britain in ratifying the Covenants and to give full support to its monitoring committee. "Our task is to create a world in which all men can live in peace, prosperity and freedom, guaranteed by the rule of law." 54

The Conservative government continued to press human rights considerations in a number of forums and supported the appointment of a Rapporteur in Afghanistan at the Human Rights Commission in early 1984. 55 It ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1986 and the Convention against Torture in 1988. On the United Nations, it noted in the 1991 Foreign Policy Document that UN mechanisms are inevitably cumbersome and slow but the cumulative effect of the criticism at the United Nations can bring considerable pressure on governments. It also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991 (it had come into force in 1990). 56

A Foreign Office minister, as is normally the case, addressed the UN Human Rights Commission in February 1995. He pointed out that a year ago they were celebrating both the outcome of the 1993 Vienna World Conference on human rights and the creation of a High Commissioner for Human Rights. At the conference the British government had accepted both the right to development (as it had not in 1986) and also that "all human rights are universal, indivisible, and interdependent and interrelated." He hoped that the Commission would discuss the vital relationship between democracy, development, and human rights. He suggested that the Commission needed to pay close attention to economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as to civil and political rights and to look in particular at how governments implement them. 57

After the Labour government came into office in May 1997 it ended the ban on free association, which had been applied to the civil servants at the Government Communications Headquarters against ILO standards.

The Commonwealth

The 1971 Declaration of Commonwealth Principles at the Heads of Government meeting at Singapore noted, inter alia: "We believe in the liberty of the individual, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or political belief, and in their inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which they live." This was reaffirmed at the 1981 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Participants were urged to accede to the relevant global and regional instruments. The Heads of Government also endorsed in principle the recommendation of a Commonwealth Working Party on Human Rights concerning the establishment of a special unit in the Secretariat for the promotion of human rights within the Commonwealth. This was eventually set up in 1985. 58

Within the Commonwealth, Britain was working after the end of the Cold War to strengthen the Commonwealth role in promoting human rights, notably by assisting the development of legal and administrative infrastructures, by increasing understanding of the major international human rights instruments, and by encouraging ratification of these instruments by Commonwealth countries. 59 In 1991 the Commonwealth Heads of Government issued a Declaration at Harare stressing the need to protect and promote democracy, the rule of law, just and honest government, and the independence of the judiciary; fundamental human rights including equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, colour, creed, or political belief; equality for women so that they can exercise their full and equal rights; provision of universal access to education; and continuing action to bring about an end to apartheid and the establishment of a free, democratic, non-racial, and prosperous South Africa. 60

The G7

It is important to note that the Group of 7 industrialized nations (now a Group of 8 including Russia), of which Britain is a member, also uses human rights language. At Houston in July 1990 the governments stated: "We welcome unreservedly the spread of multiparty democracy, the practice of free elections, the freedom of expression and assembly, the increased respect for human rights, the rule of law, and the increasing recognition of the principles of the open and competitive economy. These events proclaim loudly man's inalienable rights: when people are free to choose, they choose freedom." 61

VI. Bilateral policy

Before the end of the Cold War

Many British bilateral actions on human rights questions were, and continue to be, enacted behind the scenes. A number on aid (relating to Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Uganda), arms exports (Chile and South Africa), and trade (Rhodesia) were noted in the 1978 Foreign Policy Document (for more detail see section III). Since then, more and more attention has been given to human rights in the House of Commons. In the 1980-1981 session there were six subject entries, two of which were devoted to specific countries (Pakistan and Syria). In the 1988-1989 session there were 74 such entries, 51 of which were devoted to specific countries.

The Foreign Secretary gave an account of the December 1984 guidelines for arms exports to Iran and Iraq in October 1985. 62 Britain would continue not to supply any lethal equipment but, subject to this, it should attempt to fulfil existing contracts. In March 1986 the House was told that the government had not provided any new aid to the governments of Vietnam or Afghanistan since 1979 because of human rights violations and related issues. 63

The British government's response to the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square was announced in the House of Commons on 6 June 1989. The Foreign Secretary stated that all Members of Parliament shared the worldwide sense of horror and would join in the international condemnation of the slaughter of innocent

people. They condemned "merciless treatment of peaceful demonstrators, and deeply deplored the use of force to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Chinese people." The government looked to the Chinese to fulfil their obligations to Hong Kong in the 1984 joint declaration. There could be no question of continuing normal business with the Chinese authorities. The government had decided that all scheduled ministerial exchanges between Britain and China would be suspended; the proposed visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to China in November would not take place so long as those responsible for the atrocities remained in control of the Chinese government; all high-level contacts with China would be suspended; and all arms sales to China would be banned. 64

After the end of the Cold War

Since the 1990s, British bilateral policy towards human rights issues has been mainly confined to questions of arms sales and certain aspects of aid policy. Other bilateral action is often carried out in conjunction with other regional or multilateral action. In 1991 these included attendance at trials (e.g. in Iran) and supporting training courses (in Honduras for public security forces) and seminars (e.g. in the Cameroons). The 1996 Foreign Policy Document mentioned instances of confidential representations up to and including the prime ministerial level; public statements; curtailment of aid; enquiry about individual cases of concern to the British public or Parliament; attending trials; sending observers to elections; looking for opportunities to support local human rights work; arranging sponsored visits of human rights related workers; and maintaining contacts with and supporting local human rights organizations.

One major exception was the question of the former head of state of Chile, General Pinochet. His extradition was sought by Spain to face trial for various crimes against humanity allegedly committed while he was head of state. Two provisional warrants for his arrest were issued by magistrates under the 1989 Extradition Act. These were quashed by the Divisional Courts but the quashing of the second warrant was stayed to enable an appeal to the House of Lords on the question of the proper interpretation of the immunity enjoyed by a former head of state from arrest and extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom in respect of acts committed while he was head of state. Amnesty International was granted leave to intervene in the proceedings. On 25 November 1998 the House of Lords allowed the appeal by a majority of three to two and the second warrant was restored. The Home Secretary subsequently gave authority to proceed. However, this second order was set aside on 15 January 1999 on the ground that one of the Lords giving the judgment had links with Amnesty International, which could give the appearance of possible bias. 65 The House of Lords decided on 24 March that a former head of state had no immunity from extradition from the United Kingdom to a third country for acts of torture committed in his own country while he was head of state and after the date that the Torture Convention came into legal force in all three countries. At the time of writing the matter had been referred back to the Home Secretary.

The 1991 and 1996 Foreign Policy Documents have practically identical statements on policy regarding British arms exports. They "require an export licence and every proposed sale of defence or internal security equipment is subject to strict vetting procedures," which take into account inter alia the human rights situation in the country concerned. They did not sanction the export from the United Kingdom of any defence or internal security equipment likely to be used for internal repression.

Under the Labour government, in 1997 Britain announced the introduction of new criteria for considering applications for the export of conventional arms. This was to give effect to its manifesto commitment not to export arms to regimes that might use them for internal repression or international aggression. Under the new criteria there was a ban on the export of equipment, such as electro-shock batons, where there is clear evidence it has been used for torture.

Both Foreign Policy Documents of the 1990s noted that aid and development assistance could be used to promote good government, including accountability and respect for human rights, as an end in itself and as a basis of economic and human development. There was an explicit linkage between economic and political reform and human rights. In 1990, the House of Commons was told that British development aid to Burma and project aid to Somalia had been stopped on the grounds of human rights abuses while project aid to the Sudan was being run down and programme aid promised to Sri Lanka had been postponed. 66 In 1991 the British government bilaterally curtailed aid to Malawi, Nigeria, and the Gambia.

The Department for International Development issued a White Paper in November 1997 entitled "Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century." 67 This discussed the question under four headings: the challenge of development; building partnerships; consistency of policies, including giving particular attention to human rights, transparent and accountable government, and core labour standards — building on the government's ethical approach to international relations; and building support for development. Although it mentions human rights and development, it does not attempt to promote any synthesis of human rights ideas with those dealing with sustainable international development.

VII. Conclusion

What are the main factors that have shaped British human rights foreign policy since the Second World War? This chapter suggests that they can be found in three separate areas: Britain's interests; the way it has influenced and been influenced by the developing international debate and action on this subject; and the way it works domestically, including the legacy of its historical development.

Over the period in question British governments have acted in the light of both fixed and changing interests in the context of a long-standing involvement with many corners of the globe. The process of decolonization meant that British governments became progressively less concerned about the problem of self-determination in their dependent territories in the late 1950s as more became independent. They also found it easier to accept the references to national self-determination that had been added to both Covenants and were, despite these, finally able to sign both in 1968, and eventually ratify both in 1976. They also found it possible to allow the right of individual petition to the European Human Rights Commission and the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights to British citizens in 1966 and to citizens of its Crown Dependencies (e.g. Jersey) and its dependent territories as early as September 1967. 68

The enduring interests continue to be Britain's range of global concerns (many of which can be seen in the way it acts as a permanent member of the Security Council); its relationship with continental Europe, both West and East; its relationship with the United States; and the Commonwealth (though the weight given to it has changed both up and down over the years). The interrelationship between these was recognized in the 1950 House of Commons debate on the proposed Council of Europe after the government had signed the Convention on 4 November. The FO minister then stated: "The policy of this government, and the peculiar function of the United Kingdom, is to reconcile purely European interests with the wider interests and connections upon which European survival is dependent." The Foreign Secretary sounded a note of caution at the end of the debate when he noted that human rights issues had got tangled up with Britain's colonial troubles and its overseas territories. 69

On a regional level, British governments have supported and become more involved with the Council of Europe and the European Convention on Human Rights. Their regional European interests have been strengthened since the 1970s through membership of the EU and their involvement in the OSCE process. Human rights considerations have progressively become more centre stage in both these European organizations.

British concern with the United States can be seen in their work with President Roosevelt during the Second World War and subsequently. They sought to ensure that two Covenants were drafted, in order to make it easier for the United States eventually to ratify the ICCPR, and to cooperate on human rights matters with the Carter administration in the late 1970s. On the Commonwealth, as with other institutions, human rights have slowly been pushed more centre stage.

Britain has also influenced and been influenced by the way the world has developed internationally. British governmental concern for order and justice in the world overall can be seen in its contribution to the making of the UN Charter; the submission of a draft International Bill of Human Rights to the United Nations in 1947; its determination to develop international law, including appropriate global human rights instruments (e.g. the Covenants; the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and, most recently, the Convention on the Rights of the Child); its changing attitude to self-determination; and its generally constructive attitude to decolonization as well as its changed views on the question of domestic intervention in the affairs of states. It is also noticeable in the elaboration of Charter principles, and in the respect and cooperation Britain has given to the treaty monitoring bodies.

Finally British governments' attitudes to the human rights debate have been affected by government's historical development and the way it works domestically. Both non-governmental organizations and the media have affected its thinking. And the beginning of its racial legislation owed much to the developments at the United Nations.

Labour governments have tended to take more initiatives in the field of human rights and foreign policy. But, as Evan Luard pointed out in 1980, some double standards remained in effect, both from the government itself and in the context of public opinion. He maintained that the Labour government's close economic involvement in South Africa had constrained it to be cautious over sanctions. Its economic and strategic interests had also prevailed in the context of Iran and of Argentina. He also noted the effect of British need for oil on criticism of the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. He went on to state: "British governments have not hesitated to express their condemnation of the policies of, for example, the Soviet Union, Uganda, Chile and South Africa, because public opinion at home demanded it. They have spoken out less strongly about the policies of Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Uruguay, Cuba and Ethiopia because British public opinion and even British human rights organizations have not expressed themselves as strongly on that subject, not because it is thought important not to prejudice relations with those states." 70

These sorts of issues remain a challenge to the Labour government now in office.

The opinions expressed in this chapter are the author's own and should not be taken as an expression of official governmental policy.


Note 1: Which right falls into which category (civil, cultural, economic, political, and social) is a complex matter. Many can be looked at in more than one way. See Sally Morphet, The Balance between Civil and Political Rights and Economic and Social Rights: Origins of the Human Rights Declaration and Covenants and Subsequent Developments, Foreign Policy Document No. 127, December 1978, 2-4.  Back.

Note 2: Robert Boardman and A. J. R. Groom, eds., The Management of Britain's External Relations (London: Macmillan, 1973), 2-3.  Back.

Note 3: In September 1949, the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, in an address to the General Assembly noted that the United Nations and its debates were "gradually helping to develop in the minds and hearts of the people a greater understanding of the importance of international law, of the rule of law, of the moral acceptance of law, the necessity for the adoption of a high standard of moral values in the enforcement of that law, and the necessity ... for the universal adoption of the optional clauses and the willing acceptance of decisions, even if they may not be quite to our liking.  Back.

Note 4: H. Lauterpacht, International Law and Human Rights (London: Stevens, 1950), 127-133.  Back.

Note 5: A. H. Robertson, Human Rights in the World (New York: St. Martin's, 1982), 6-8.  Back.

Note 6: Francesca Klug, Keir Starmier, and Stuart Weir, The Three Pillars of Liberty, Political Rights and Freedoms in the United Kingdom (London: Routledge, 1996), 4.  Back.

Note 7: J. F. Green, The United Nations and Human Rights (Washington, DC: Brookings, 1956), 14.  Back.

Note 8: B. Mirkine-Guetzevitch, "L'ONU et la Doctrine Moderne des Droits de L'Homme," Revue Generale de Droit International Public (1951), 50-51, and C. J. Friedrich, "Rights, Liberties and Freedoms: A Reappraisal," American Political Science Review (1963), 843.  Back.

Note 9: Friedrich, "Rights, Liberties and Freedoms," op. cit., 842.  Back.

Note 10: John Sankey, "Decolonisation and the UN," in Erik Jensen and Thomas Fisher, eds., The United Kingdom — The United Nations (London: Macmillan, 1990), 97-8.  Back.

Note 11: Geoffrey Marston, "The United Kingdom's Part in the Preparation of the European Convention on Human Rights," International and Comparative Law Quarterly 42 (October 1993), 825. Independence for India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon in 1947-48 did not immediately mean the end of Empire. No other imperial territory came to independence until the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Malaya, and Ghana in 1956-57; thereafter the pace of decolonization steadily increased.  Back.

Note 12: Ibid., 820.  Back.

Note 13: Sally Morphet, "Article 1 of the Human Rights Covenants: Its Development and Current Significance," in Dilys Hill, ed., Human Rights and Foreign Policy Principles and Practice (London: Macmillan, 1989), 78.  Back.

Note 14: K. R. Simmonds, "The United Kingdom and the European Convention on Human Rights," International and Comparative Law Quarterly 15 (April 1966), 539-541. See also Treaty Series No. 8 (1966), Cmnd. 2894.  Back.

Note 15: For a detailed history of its activities, see "The Anti-Apartheid Movement and Racism in Southern Africa," by Abdul S. Minty in Peter Willetts, ed., Pressure Groups in the Global System (London: Frances Pinter, 1982), 28-45.  Back.

Note 16: For detail see Natan Lerner, The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (Leiden: Sijthoff & Noordhoff, 1980). A further useful general book is Michael Banton, International Action against Racial Discrimination (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).  Back.

Note 17: British Policy towards the United Nations, Foreign Policy Document No. 26 (London: HMSO, 1978).  Back.

Note 18: Ben Whitaker, the British expert who served on the UN Sub-Commission on Minorities, notes that a watershed occurred in the discussion of individual countries in the United Nations in 1973 when the Soviet Union, because of its concern at the coup against President Allende, "dropped their objections and allowed a debate on human rights violations specifically in Chile." This precedent was used to allow debates on other countries. See "Constructive Criticism: The United Nations and Human Rights," in Jensen and Fisher, eds., The United Kingdom — The United Nations, op. cit., 151.  Back.

Note 19: Sally Morphet, "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The Development of Governments' Views 1941-88," in Ralph Bedard and Dilys Hill, eds., Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Progress and Achievement (London: Macmillan, 1992), 84-5.  Back.

Note 20: Human Rights in Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Document No. 215 (Human Rights Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, January 1991).  Back.

Note 21: Human Rights in Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Document No. 268 (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, July 1996).  Back.

Note 22: For discussion of options for a United Kingdom Human Rights Commission, see Sarah Spencer and Ian Bynoe, A Human Rights Commission for the United Kingdom—Some Options, EHRLR Issue 2 (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1997).  Back.

Note 23: Survey of Current Affairs 27/8 (August 1997) (London: Foreign and Commonwealth Office), 296-300.  Back.

Note 24: The Merger of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office (London: HMSO, 1968).  Back.

Note 25: These are the Human Rights Committee (the ICCPR); the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee (the ICESCR); the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); the Convention against Torture (CAT); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  Back.

Note 26: Klug, Starmier, and Weir, The Three Pillars, op. cit., 3-4.  Back.

Note 27: Ibid., 7.  Back.

Note 28: Francoise Hampson, "The United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights," Yearbook of European Law (1989), 173.  Back.

Note 29: L. A. Siedentop, "Viewpoint: The Strange Life of Liberal England," Times Literary Supplement, 16 August 1985, p. 900.  Back.

Note 30: Early in the Second World War (1939-1945) a coalition government came into office (1940-1945). It was succeeded by the following governments: Conservative, May-July 1945; Labour, July 1945—October 1951; Conservative, October 1951—October 1964; Labour, October 1964—June 1970; Conservative, June 1970—March 1974; Labour, March 1974—May 1979; Conservative, May 1979—May 1997; Labour, May 1997- .  Back.

Note 31: Shirley Stewart, ed., Human Rights in United States & United Kingdom Foreign Policy: A Colloquium (New York: American Association for the International Commission of Jurists, 1979).  Back.

Note 32: Human Rights Re-Examined, House of Lords Session 1992-93, Select Committee on the European Communities (London: HMSO, June 1992).  Back.

Note 33: Foreign Policy and Human Rights, Volume 1, House of Commons Session 1998-9, Foreign Affairs Committee (London: Stationery Office, December 1998).  Back.

Note 34: First Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee Session 1998-9. Foreign Policy and Human Rights: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm. 4299 (London: Stationery Office, 23 March 1999).  Back.

Note 35: Marston, "The United Kingdom's Part," op. cit., 800-802.  Back.

Note 36: Hansard, House of Commons, written answer, cols. 166-7, 14 February 1966.  Back.

Note 37: See, for instance, Helena Cook, "Amnesty International at the United Nations," in Peter Willetts, ed., "The Conscience of the World": The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations in the U.N. System (London: C. Hurst, 1996).  Back.

Note 38: See Michael Longford, "NGOs and the Rights of the Child," in Peter Willetts, ed., "The Conscience of the World," op. cit.  Back.

Note 39: Klug, Starmier, and Weir, The Three Pillars, op. cit., 3.  Back.

Note 40: Martha Finnemore, "International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and Science Policy," International Organization 47/4 (Autumn 1993), 593.  Back.

Note 41: Marston, "The United Kingdom's Part," op. cit., 800.  Back.

Note 42: Ibid., 813.  Back.

Note 43: Survey of Current Affairs, 15/4 (April 1985) (London: Central Office of Information), 104-106.  Back.

Note 44: Survey of Current Affairs 26/12 (December 1996) (London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office), 462-463.  Back.

Note 45: Human Rights in Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Document No. 215, op. cit., Annex E.  Back.

Note 46: Ibid., 16-18.  Back.

Note 47: See also Ian Sinclair, "The Significance of the Friendly Relations Declaration," in Vaughan Lowe and Colin Warbrick, eds., The United Nations and the Principles of International Law (London: Routledge, 1994), 29.  Back.

Note 48: Selected Documents Relating to Problems of Security and Cooperation in Europe 1954-77, Miscellaneous No. 17, Cmnd. 6932 (London: HMSO, 1977), 306.  Back.

Note 49: Ibid., 331-40.  Back.

Note 50: Survey of Current Affairs 11/1 (January 1981) (London: Central Office of Information), 12.  Back.

Note 51: Lord Gladwyn, "Founding the United Nations: Principles and Objects," in Jensen and Fisher, eds., The United Kingdom — The United Nations, op. cit., p. 37.  Back.

Note 52: UN Yearbook 1946-47 (New York: UN Department of Public Information), 525-526.  Back.

Note 53: Dominic McGoldrick and Nigel Parker, "The United Kingdom Perspective on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," in David Harris and Sarah Joseph, eds., The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and United Kingdom Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 70.  Back.

Note 54: See Survey of Current Affairs 6/10 (October 1976) (London: Central Office of Information), 383.  Back.

Note 55: Survey of Current Affairs 15/1 (January 1985) (London: Central Office of Information), 15.  Back.

Note 56: See Longford, "NGOs and the Rights of the Child," op. cit.  Back.

Note 57: Survey of Current Affairs 25/2 (February 1995) (London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office), 34-35.  Back.

Note 58: Survey of Current Affairs 15/11 (November 1985) (London: Central Office of Information), 341.  Back.

Note 59: Human Rights in Foreign Policy, Foreign Policy Document No. 215, 7.  Back.

Note 60: Survey of Current Affairs 21/11 (November 1991) (London: Foreign & Commonwealth Office), 403.  Back.

Note 61: http: //  Back.

Note 62: Hansard, House of Commons, written answer 450, 29 October 1985.  Back.

Note 63: Hansard, House of Commons, written answer 122, 18 March 1986.  Back.

Note 64: Survey of Current Affairs 19/6 (June 1989) (London: Central Office of Information), 233.  Back.

Note 65: New Law Journal Practitioner, 22 January 1999, 88.  Back.

Note 66: Hansard, House of Commons, written answer 31, 19 November 1990.  Back.

Note 67: Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century, Cm. 3789, November 1997.  Back.

Note 68: The right of individual petition remains for all the Crown and dependent territories with the exception of the British Virgin Islands, for which it was stopped in January 1981, and the Cayman Islands, for which it was stopped in January 1986. See also Hansard, House of Commons, written answer 29, 14 February 1995.  Back.

Note 69: Hansard, House of Commons, cols. 1397-1398 and col. 1502, 13 November 1950.  Back.

Note 70: Evan Luard, "Human Rights and Foreign Policy," International Affairs (Autumn 1980), 587. See also Evan Luard, Human Rights and Foreign Policy (pamphlet published on behalf of the British United Nations Association by the Pergamon Press, 1981).  Back.