CORE Submission to Foreign Affairs Select Committee Inquiry on 'Global Britain' Policy

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Since the Brexit vote, Government ministers have been clear that Britain is not withdrawing from the world stage. Ministers often refer to ‘Global Britain’, but in its report the Committee found that ‘Global Britain’ had not been precisely defined and Ministers could not say what it meant. The Foreign Affairs Committee is now holding an inquiry on the Government’s ‘Global Britain’ policy, how it might be implemented in practice and whether the Government, and the FCO in particular, has the resources available to deliver it. CORE’s submission argues that human rights must be at the heart of any reinvigorated foreign policy.

Executive Summary:

  • Government must restate ongoing commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and labour rights as part of its Global Britain policy, particularly in the face of temptations to neglect existing standards to secure trade deals.
  • Defending the ‘rules-based international system’ must involve the protection of human rights as international human rights and humanitarian law are the cornerstone of that system.
  • Trade deals must be used to strengthen, not weaken key values and commitments as the UK leaves the EU. Placing human rights at the centre of a Global Britain policy will aid this.
  • Government should go further by removing investor-state dispute settlement provisions from trade deals and improving sustainability impact assessments.
  • The FCO should develop its capacity to integrate business and human rights considerations into their support for UK businesses overseas.
  • A cross-departmental and strategic approach will be necessary to develop policy coherence in putting human rights at the heart of the Global Britain policy.
  • Strengthen existing FCO work on Overseas Business Risk documents and protecting Human Rights Defenders.
  • The UK should engage constructively with the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and continue to encourage foreign states to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Download the submission »