The UK Foreign Affairs Committee highlights risk of “double standards”.
In a report published this week, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee recommended that the Government should be more upfront about the contradictions between its interests overseas and the promotion of human rights.
This contradiction is clearly demonstrated by Prime Minister David Cameron’s refusal to speak up on human rights abuse in Tibet because doing so would affect UK-China relations.
Conflict between UK interests and human rights values
The report said: “It is inevitable that the UK will have interests which have the potential to conflict with its human rights values: these interests might, for instance, be strategic, commercial or security-related. In pursuing these alongside its human rights work overseas, the UK runs the risk of operating double standards…”
The report also questioned the sometimes low key approach to countries designated as being “of concern”. This certainly is relevant to China, which is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s list of “countries of concern” but rarely openly criticised for its human rights record by the UK Government.
UK can make a real impact in Tibet
Foreign Secretary William Hague praised the UK’s diplomatic services in a speech this week, highlighting the UK’s ability to influence global politics.
“I have been struck time and again over the last two years by the fact that we are one of the few countries in the world that is able to make things happen at a global level,” he said.
Tibetans are still waiting for the UK Government to use this influence to improve the human rights situation in Tibet.