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Date : 09-11-2011











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Press release: Foreign Secretary statement on Human Rights Day

Speaking on Human Rights Day, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

Human Rights Day reminds us that it can be easy to take for granted many of the freedoms we enjoy in the UK.

The freedom to be who you want, love who you want, worship or not worship and to live your life as you please is denied to millions across the globe.

Everywhere I go in the world where we have concerns about human rights I raise these frankly because we believe that engagement is the best way to encourage reform.

Standing up for human rights is not only the right thing; it also helps to create a safer, more prosperous and progressive world. This is what Global Britain stands for. And promoting, championing and defending human rights is integral to the work of the Foreign Office and part of the everyday work of all British diplomats.

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Press release: Foreign Secretary statement ahead of visit to Iran

The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, said:

Iran is a significant country in a strategically important, but volatile and unstable, region which matters to the UK’s security and prosperity.

My first visit is an opportunity to hold further discussions on a series of crucial issues, including how we can find a political solution to the devastating conflict in Yemen and secure greater humanitarian access to ease the immense suffering there. I will also underline the UK’s continued support for the nuclear deal while making clear our concerns about some of Iran’s activity in the region.

We will also discuss our bilateral relationship and I will stress my grave concerns about our dual national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so.

While our relationship with Iran has improved significantly since 2011, it is not straightforward and on many issues we will not agree. But I am clear that dialogue is the key to managing our differences and, where possible, making progress on issues that really matter, even under difficult conditions.

I look forward to a constructive visit.

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Speech: "Today I reaffirm our strong support for renewed peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians as soon as possible"

Thank you Mr President, both for giving me the floor and for scheduling this important meeting.

Nikolay, thank you for your briefing. In particular for your unequivocal support for the two-state solution and for your warnings against unilateral measures that jeopardise the prospect of a sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians. From the outset, I would like to make clear that the United Kingdom’s position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined through a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, including 242, 478 and 2334, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

We therefore disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and unilaterally to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel before a final status agreement. These decisions are unhelpful to the prospects for peace in the region, an aim that I know all of us in this Council remain committed to. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.

Mr President,

We share President Trump’s desire to bring an end to this conflict. We welcome his commitment to a two-state solution negotiated between the parties. We note his clear acknowledgement of the importance of the final status of Jerusalem, including the sovereign boundaries within the city, which must be subject to negotiations between the parties.

We remain committed to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that is based on 1967 borders with agreed and equal land swaps, reflecting both parties’ national and religious interests; and with Jerusalem as the shared capital of an Israeli and Palestinian state. This outcome must be determined through a final status agreement, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees, that is demographically compatible with the principle of two states for two peoples.

Mr President,

We recognise that Jerusalem holds huge significance and holiness for Jews, Muslims and Christians. We reiterate the fundamental necessity of maintaining the status quo at the Holy Sites, in particular the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif and we welcome President Trump’s call on the parties to maintain that status quo. Access and religious rights of both peoples must be respected. We value Jordan’s important role as custodian of the Holy Sites, and remain fully supportive of their efforts to maintain calm.

We are deeply concerned by continued developments on the ground that undermine the prospects for a two-state solution. As the Quartet has made clear, settlement construction and expansion, particularly in East Jerusalem is a significant barrier to achieving that solution. Terrorism and incitement to violence constitute another crucial barrier. We will continue to press the parties to refrain from actions which make a viable peace more difficult to achieve. A just and lasting resolution to end the occupation and deliver peace for both Israelis and Palestinians is long overdue. Recent developments demonstrate the urgency of progress towards peace.

Today I reaffirm our strong support for renewed peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians as soon as possible. These should be supported by the international community and should result in a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.

We welcome the UN Secretary-General’s intent to do everything in his power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations and to realize this vision of a lasting peace for both peoples.

We strongly encourage the US Administration to bring forward detailed proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The UK will also do everything we can to support progress and achieve the vision of a lasting peace.

To have the best chances of success, the peace process must be conducted in an atmosphere free from violence. We call on all parties to maintain calm, and work together in a spirit of commitment to this common enterprise.

On Jerusalem specifically, peace efforts need to take account of the people, not just the land and the Holy Sites. There are more than 320,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The vast majority are permanent residents whose permits can be revoked at any point. If they move away from the city, Israel often does not allow them back. If they marry, they face obstacle in bringing their spouses. If they apply for Israeli citizenship, and most do not, a high proportion of applications are rejected. Their status must not be forgotten in any peace effort.

Mr President,

If all parties can truly take bold steps in the spirit of compromise, I have no doubt that an agreement can finally be reached. This is the only way to ensure the long-term security that Israelis deserve, and the statehood and end to the occupation that Palestinians are calling out for. This is what both peoples ought to have. It has been denied to them for too long.

News story: Chinese Vice Premier attends UK/China People to People Dialogue

As part of her four day visit to the UK for the 2017 UK-China People to People Dialogue (P2P), Chinese Vice Premier Madame Liu arrived in London on Tuesday 5th December. Mme Liu arrived in London from Edinburgh, where she met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and received an honorary degree from Edinburgh University.

Madame Liu participated in a variety of events in London, including a meeting with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a drop-in meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May and an Audience with HRH The Princess Royal.

The P2P promotes UK-China collaboration on issues that are important to people in both our countries, including health, education and culture. The high level engagement between Mme Liu and UK figures will further deepen Britain’s relationship with China and lay the ground for future collaboration.

Mme Liu Yandong met Prime Minister Theresa May
On Tuesday 5th December, Mme Liu Yandong met Prime Minister Theresa May. Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt hosted the meeting in Downing Street. The Prime Minister and Vice Premier Liu discussed various topics including the UK-China relationship, women’s empowerment and education.
HRH The Princess Royal hosted Chinese Vice-Premier Mme Liu Yandong
On the morning of Wednesday 6th December, HRH The Princess Royal hosted Chinese Vice-Premier Mme Liu Yandong for an Audience at Buckingham Palace. The pair established a firm friendship in July when HRH The Princess Royal visited Beijing on her tour of China.
Mme Liu visited Oxford where she delivered a speech to Oxford University students
On Wednesday 6th December, Mme Liu visited Oxford where she delivered a speech to Oxford University students at the Sheldonian Theatre. In her speech, Mme Liu discussed the Golden Era of UK-China relations.
Mme Liu Co-Chaired the 5th Plenary Session with Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt
On Thursday 7th December, Mme Liu Co-Chaired the 5th Plenary Session of the UK-China People to People Dialogue with Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt. During the plenary session, Mme Liu and SoS Hunt celebrated our achievements throughout the 5 years of P2P, including advancements in women’s equality and educational exchange.
Mme Liu met the Foreign Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
On Thursday 7th December, Mme Liu met the Foreign Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. During the meeting, the pair discussed their vision for the UK-China relationship, the Middle East peace process and tackling the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

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Press release: First UK Minister visit to Russia in 2 years

Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan used the opportunity, the first Ministerial visit to Russia for 2 years, to discuss international security issues ahead of the Foreign Secretary’s visit later this month.

Meeting the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov, the 2 Ministers agreed that the strong co-operation shown around security and policing ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia is hugely important and proves the value of working together on issues of mutual interest.

Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan said:

The UK’s approach of robust engagement with Russia is the right one. We will continue to engage with Russia, agreeing where we can but challenging when we do not.

In my wide-ranging meeting with First Deputy Foreign Minister Titov, I thanked him for the efforts Russia have shown in preparing for the World Cup next summer. We agreed that where our interests align, there is huge value in co-operation.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, my visit, and indeed the forthcoming visit by the Foreign Secretary, are vital opportunities to discuss matters of international security such as Ukraine, Syria, Iran and North Korea.

The Minister also visited the venue for the 2018 World Cup Final, the Luzhniki Stadium, and saw the preparations underway which have included visits by UK Police.

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Press release: Foreign Secretary to visit Oman, Iran and United Arab Emirates

Updated: Added translation

The Foreign Secretary will meet with senior figures in all 3 countries to discuss a range of issues including the future of the Iran nuclear deal, how to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen and ease the desperate humanitarian suffering there and the current tensions in the region.

This trip will be the first of a British Foreign Secretary to Iran since 2015 and only the third since 2003. In Iran the Foreign Secretary will meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to discuss the bilateral relationship and regional security issues. The Foreign Secretary will raise again concerns about a number of consular cases involving dual nationals and press for their release on humanitarian grounds.

A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said:

This visit comes at a crucial time for the Gulf region and provides an opportunity to discuss a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen, the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the current volatility in the Middle East.

This is the first visit of the Foreign Secretary to Iran and we expect talks to cover a wide range of issues from the bilateral relationship to regional security. The government remains very concerned about all our dual nationals detained in Iran and has been doing everything it can to make progress on their cases, while approaching them in a way that we judge is in their best interests. The Foreign Secretary will urge the Iranians to release dual nationals where there are humanitarian grounds to do so.

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Speech: Statement at the Human Rights Council Special Session on Burma

I welcome this session. The international community cannot ignore the desperate plight of the Rohingya muslims. I thank the Bangladesh government for ensuring that refugees receive urgent aid. I am also pleased that the UK has contributed £59 million in support.

The UK is committed to working with international partners to resolve the situation in Rakhine. At September’s Council I called on Burmese security forces to stop committing human rights violations against the Rohingya. Today’s session, together with the overwhelming vote in favour of the OIC-led resolution in the Third Committee and the United Nations – which the UK co-sponsored - reflects growing international outrage at these despicable atrocities.

I welcome the UN Security Council’s adoption of the first Presidential Statement on Burma for ten years. This significant step sent a clear message: international pressure will not relent until the state authorities act to enable refugees to return to Rakhine voluntarily, with dignity and, importantly, in safety.

The authorities must grant full humanitarian access to Northern Rakhine so that affected communities can receive vital assistance. They must also cooperate fully with the UN’s human rights system, including the Independent Fact Finding Mission established by this very Council.

The UK believes that supporting the civilian government is the best way to ensure fair treatment for the Rohingya and respect for human rights. UK Ministers have urged Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of the civilian government to take the necessary steps.

Mr President, as the UK Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict I want to draw particular attention to the harrowing reports of rape, sexual abuse and brutality from refugees in Cox’s Bazaar, indeed as we heard directly from Special Representative Patten who described this in graphic terms.

Last month, the Head of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative joined Ms Patten’s visit to the refugee camps, and heard appalling accounts from survivors.

We have since deployed two civilian experts to Bangladesh. They will make recommendations to the UK government on further support to survivors of sexual violence, including support for the investigation and documentation of these abhorrent crimes.

Today’s Special Session demonstrates the strength of international feeling about the situation facing the Rohingya community. This current crisis was precipitated by long-standing inequality between communities in Rakhine. The state authorities must act swiftly, not only to address this inequality but also to relieve the suffering of the Rohingya and restore security to enable them to return with dignity and in safety and allow them to rebuild their lives.

Speech: How Global Britain is helping to win the struggle against Islamist terror

Global Britain is helping to win the struggle against Islamist terror

When in the course of a prolonged and vicious struggle you eventually record a success, then it is essential – with due humility and caution – to celebrate that success. So I draw your attention once again to the defeat of Daesh in Raqqa, and the victory of the 74-member coalition – in which the UK played a proud part.

It was 3 years ago that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stood forth in the pulpit of Mosul’s biggest mosque and vowed to “conquer Rome” and “own the world”. At one stage his domain had 10 million inhabitants, suffering under what may be remembered as one of the most depraved regimes in history.

They picked on the innocent. They hurled gays from rooftops. They enslaved women and children. They used the town square to crucify and behead anyone who dared oppose moral codes that I would call mediaeval if that were not an insult to the comparative civility of the Middle Ages.

And when they made their last stand in the football stadium in Raqqa, it may not surprise you that they fully lived down to expectations. They did not fight like lions, or die wrapped in their sinister black flag. They put up their hands and allowed themselves to be driven away in white buses.

And it is a pleasing irony that in the end they were out-shot, out-fought and out-generalled by a force that contained significant numbers of female Kurdish soldiers, the very women whose freedom they regarded as a Western abomination, and most of the fighters who inflicted this defeat were Sunni Muslims – the very people who Daesh purported to represent.

We should hail the fall of Raqqa and Mosul; because 96% of the so-called ‘caliphate’ is now gone, along with their pompous pretensions to statehood. Al-Baghdadi is a fugitive.

We have helped to disable the machine that drew in recruits from across the world, from Luton to Mindanao. They no longer have the land for training camps or a tortured population to plunder and tax.

We should offer ourselves this limited congratulation: that we have prevented a terrorist group from controlling territory in the Middle East.

And yet we know that we have not destroyed Daesh: not in Iraq, not yet in Syria, and certainly not across the world. We may have temporarily smashed the machine but we know the components are invisibly reassembling themselves.

They are even now seeking each other out in countries where governance is weak. They are there in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, northern Nigeria; indeed for 5 months of this year the Islamic State (so-called) in the Philippines occupied Marawi City until they were driven out.

They are capable of operating even in places where government is comparatively stable, as they have tried to do in Tunisia and Egypt. A hundred of the foreign fighters in Syria came from Malaysia.

And of course we see their impact here in western Europe, in the concrete and steel chicanes that have been installed around our public buildings, in the endless boustrophedon queues at airports, in the recent attacks in Manchester and London.

We know that they are simultaneously moving up and down on the ladder of technological ambition. They are working on new bombs of all kinds, and new ways of eluding detection. They are enlisting everyday objects as terrorist weapons.

And I am sad to say that it has become all too commonplace to read that somewhere on our continent, someone chooses to announce that God is great while launching an attack on passers-by. In this country, MI5 and Counter-Terrorism Policing are now running well over 500 live operations – a third more than last year.

So now is the moment to draw confidence from our success against Daesh; and to consider how we are going to prosecute the struggle.

To answer that question – how do we win – we need to understand first who, or rather what, we are fighting. Because even if we were to capture every single Daesh fighter, even if all the jihadis in the world were either imprisoned or vaporized in drone strikes, we would still have failed to defeat the enemy.

This is neither a war against a conventional Westphalian state, nor do these terrorists have any remotely negotiable objectives. It is a struggle not against a religion but an idea, a perverse ideology.

So it may be more useful to switch metaphors. Perhaps we should think of a fight not against a military opponent but against a disease or psychosis – even though that metaphor is itself imperfect. The notion of a disease or contagion fails to do justice to the moral agency of the terrorists.

They have decided to take this path; they and they alone are responsible for their crimes. Perhaps we can say that as with every other form of criminal behaviour, we have to look at the social and emotional factors that combine to make people dedicate themselves to such comprehensive nihilism.

I appreciate the inadequacies of the phrase “Islamist terrorism”. If I could think of a better one I would use it. But we need to understand exactly why this type of terrorism has become associated with Islam in a way that 1.5 billion Muslims find both insulting and infuriating.

It is a very ancient idea, and common to virtually all religions – including Christianity – that any kind of worldly setback (military defeat, political humiliation, even economic decline) must be the mark of some divine disfavour. For thousands of years human beings have postulated that the correct response must be to propitiate the Gods or God by some act of piety.

(Think of Agamemnon: he wanted a more favourable wind for his ships at Aulis. He believed he was being punished for a transgression. So he did what he thought was the obvious thing. He killed his daughter.) It is this same sort of expiatory thought pattern that persuades people to engage in movements that could be broadly described as puritan or fundamentalist.

In the last 150 years we have seen how a small number of Islamic thinkers have responded to what they see as the humiliations of the Muslim world. And this same logic applies to the individual as he or she is radicalized. Because of course the world is full of people who feel that they are not successful, or not powerful, or not in control of their lives.

And then suddenly – in a mosque, or in a prison, or increasingly online – someone hands them what seems to be this emotional universal spanner. They are told that all their disappointments are caused by their own refusal to adopt a jihadist ideology.

And they are told that if only they will turn to this extreme and violent theology then all their troubles will be gone and their lives turned upside down. And suddenly the world around them that had previously seemed to be alienating and intimidating now seems itself to be contemptible and corrupt; and deserving of reform by the application of their holy rage.

The process is not only very fast – Islamist jihadism has been compared in its addictive power to crack cocaine. It is also very hard to reverse.

And so we need to stop the spread of this malady. We need to confront it and wipe it out in all the ungoverned spaces where it breeds: in the Middle East and north Africa, in the foul rag and bone shops of the internet, in our own country, where it exploits the very freedoms of our liberal democracy, and in the wildest and least governed space of all, the human heart.

There are interlocking ecosystems of terror, domestic and international, contaminating each other online. We can stop both cogs turning. We can greatly reduce the threat. Yes, we can win.

But we need to understand not just whom we mean by the enemy. We need to understand who we are. Who are ‘we’ who are going to win?

There is an unedifying narcissism in the whole use of this first person plural, because I am afraid that all too often the term ‘we’ is taken to mean the West: it means the so-called advanced liberal democracies of Europe and America – and if that is all we mean by ‘we’ then the cause is hopeless.

Look at the death tolls from suicide bombs that now rate barely a paragraph in our papers, in Iraq or Somalia. Who are the principal victims of this global disease?

It is not Westerners, in spite of the recent increase in terrorist attacks. The number of global terrorist victims has risen from 3,361 in the year 2000 to 25,673 in 2016; and the overwhelming majority of those victims, 98%, were innocent Muslims living in Muslim countries.

Since October, we have witnessed 2 of the deadliest terrorist attacks in modern history – in Mogadishu and Sinai – and of the 823 who died virtually all were Muslims; in Sinai the target of the atrocity was a mosque filled with Friday worshippers. The tragedy of their families was identical to the tragedy of the bereaved families in Manchester or London – and the perpetrator was the same enemy that we face in Britain.

But if we are going to win, then we need to scrap the idea that Western foreign policy is somehow the principal cause of the problem. It is a fallacy that is at once glib, egotistical and which simply feeds the narrative of the jihadis.

Yes it is true that we have made horrendous mistakes – even when our intentions have been broadly good.

Sir John Chilcot concluded: “The Iraq of 2009, when British troops withdrew, certainly did not meet the UK’s objectives as described in January 2003. It fell far short of strategic success.” That must be a competitor for understatement of the century.

In removing Saddam Hussein, without any clear programme for succession, we not only helped to cause chaos. We sent a troubling signal around the Muslim world.

Saddam was a monster, a mass murderer, but he nonetheless stood at the apex of the Iraqi political system and in toppling him with a flip of our fingers, we seemed to suggest a contempt for national political institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. In the last 15 years we have learned the hard way that these institutions – no matter how flawed – are more easily destroyed than rebuilt.

And so I am with the consensus that the war in Iraq – certainly in the absence of a clear plan – was a mistake.

But that war did not create the Islamist terrorist threat: far from it. It is almost as if people have forgotten that the 9/11 massacre – in which 3,000 died at the hands of Osama bin Laden – came before the Iraq war, not after it.

And to assert, as people often do, that the terrorism we see on the streets of Britain and America is some kind of punishment for adventurism and folly in the Middle East is to ignore that these so-called punishments are visited on peoples – Swedes, Belgians, Finns, or the Japanese hostages murdered by Daesh – with no such history in the region.

There is no consistency or no logic in this bashing of the West. We must not play their game. The truth is that, if anything, the Western powers have been bit players in a kaleidoscopic struggle between dynasties and sects and tribes and interests in which, over the last 30 years, Islamist extremism – and in many cases terrorism – has been manipulated in order to serve some political end. Actually, the end is always broadly the same. It is the survival or strengthening of the regime.

But there are several distinct types of manipulation. There is simple appeasement, by which some governments – at least in the past – have condoned the financial support of highly dubious mosques or madrasas and turned a blind eye to preaching of hate or violence to buy the domestic support, for instance, of a conservative and reactionary clerisy.

Next there is the ingenious device of the false alternative, by which regimes will artfully contrive a choice, which they present to their own people and to the rest of the world. You either accept me, they say, with all my blemishes – cruel secret police, terrible human rights record – or else the Islamists will take over and we are back to the Middle Ages.

The most egregious recent exponent of this false alternative has been Bashar al-Asad. From the very beginning of the Syrian uprising in 2011 Asad worked assiduously to sharpen the dilemma. He contributed to the very creation of Daesh. He let their leaders out of jail and bought their oil. Until this year, he usually avoided fighting Daesh, reserving his most ruthless aggression for the civilian population of Syria.

And after 6 years of this Morton’s fork, and 6 years of slaughter, we have to accept that the gambit appears to have paid off.

We have never been able to answer the question, ‘who should follow Asad’, because the prior challenge has been to get rid of Daesh, to defeat the Islamist terrorists. And yes, we celebrate the defeat of Daesh in Raqqa, but Asad has meanwhile recovered most of operational Syria.

That is how Islamist extremism has been for decades used as a tool for self-preservation. It’s either me or the maniacs, a regime will say: which do you prefer? And the world says, well, in that case I suppose we had better hold our noses and have you.

In some cases, let us be frank, this arrangement works better than in others. Some governments, without being necessarily democratic, are able to hold things together without too much repression. But sometimes the lid is jammed down so hard on the pressure cooker that the resentment builds, and a campaign for political freedom becomes indistinguishable from a campaign for Islamist control.

So we end up with a lose-lose situation. If you have a chaotic state, then you have a breeding-ground for terror. If you have a strong but repressive state, then you also have a potential breeding-ground for terror.

And last there is a method of manipulation that even more pernicious than the false alternative. I mean the concept of ‘forward defence’, whereby a government or its agents will covertly support terrorist groups abroad: either to weaken that government’s neighbours; or to diffuse any threat from those neighbours – real or imagined, or to export its own jihadi problem outside its borders.

Or, most destructively of all, the objective may be to engage in a regional campaign for influence by exploiting the weaknesses of states, and by promoting fanatical or semi-fanatical militias to force other states to respond.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of these conflicts, you cannot credibly argue that they are the fault of the West, let alone that they are now being driven by Western powers. On the contrary, you could argue much more persuasively that the problems we are seeing today have been exacerbated not so much by Western meddling as by our aloofness.

We called on Asad to go. We set the red lines of what we would accept in his treatment of the Syrian population. And then we did nothing about it. We willed the end, and failed to will the means – leaving the pitch wide open for Russia and Iran.

I am afraid that we must now adjust to reality, but we do not walk away. We must collectively re-insert ourselves in the process because it is Western cash that will eventually rebuild Syria, and that can only happen in the context of a political transition away from the Asad regime in which the Syrian people – including the 11 or 12 million who have fled – are allowed to vote on their future in UN-monitored elections.

We can and should do more to resolve the conflict in Yemen where a humanitarian catastrophe is looming, and where Saudi cities are now facing the terror of Houthi missile attacks.

We have the opportunity to bring together the factions in Libya, who should seize this moment to put aside their differences for the good of that country.

The UK has played an important part in uniting the world around the plan of the UN envoy, Ghassan Salame.

We need more engagement, not less, because if you look at events since 2013, when the British and the US decided not to intervene in Syria even after Asad had used chemical weapons, you could not say that we managed to insulate ourselves from the region.

On the contrary, Europe had a tumultuous and tragic flood of migration from Syria. We are still seeing huge flows via Libya and the tempo of domestic terrorism would appear if anything to have increased.

We cannot create some Maginot Line in the Mediterranean. We cannot just seal off the whole of the Middle East and North Africa and give them 50 years to sort themselves out.

The problems will only get worse, not just for the Muslim countries who are in the frontline of the struggle but for us in Western Europe.

Above all, we must not be afraid. The easiest way to lose a war on terror is to be terrified. We cannot afford to let them change the way we live our lives – no more than is strictly necessary. We should not minimize the threat we face. Neither should we exaggerate.

For whatever else it may be, Islamist terrorism is simply not an existential threat to Britain.

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It is a scourge, a disease, a malaise; but we can get on top of it, because for all its allegedly instant addictive power – there are in reality only a tiny, tiny minority of people who are going to be remotely vulnerable to its bombastic lunacies.

Anyone who actually went to Raqqa discovered that it was a hopeless and unsanitary dystopia. There proved to be a very limited market for that way of life.

We can defeat this scourge at home and abroad; we can stop both cogs turning at once.

We are working to get their videos down from the internet, and thanks to the efforts of both the Prime Minister and of Amber Rudd, we are beginning to see more co-operation from the internet companies, with hundreds of thousands of items removed.

We are going to continue the work of the Prevent programme, which is designed to spot vulnerable people and protect them from radicalization, and – despite its detractors – Prevent has had its share of success.

At the same time we in the UK, Global Britain, are helping to reverse the spread of the disease overseas, and in its most hideous and dangerous manifestations that will mean surgery. It will sometimes mean military action of the kind we have taken in the skies above Raqqa and Mosul, where the UK has been among the biggest contributors to a highly successful campaign of tactical air bombardment, second only to the US.

Contrary to some of the assertions you will have heard recently, I can tell you that every day around the world I can tell you that British serving men and women are putting their lives at risk to roll up terrorist networks, to expose what they are doing, to thwart them and bring them to justice.

And they are doing it not just on behalf of the British people, but for the sake of everyone. They are making good on what the Prime Minister has rightly called the unconditional commitment of the British people to the security of our European friends – not just in this continent but beyond. We have the best in the world – and they will be with our allies for the long term.

People should be immensely proud of the work of this country in the danger zones and the breeding grounds of terror. I have myself seen British forces training Nigerians to tackle the maniacs of Boko Haram. I have seen how we are helping the Libyans to tackle the people traffickers and gun-runners, and to stop the terrorists regaining a foothold in Sirte.

But we cannot win until whole populations are immunized from the virus, until the Muslim world is no longer vulnerable to the cancer. That struggle will only be over when across that huge arc of territory, from south Asia to the Middle East, we have managed to end the political manipulation of extremism and terror, and end the baleful logic of the false alternative.

We – and by ‘we’ I mean not just we the West but the whole Muslim world who will be the winners when there is a powerful and visible third option: neither the tyranny and repression of undemocratic governments nor the chaos and backwardness of Islamist regimes, but the real and viable possibility of pluralist, generous and tolerant societies that allow space for free speech and independent non-governmental organisations.

We all understand the reasons why this third alternative has been so rare and so hard to achieve. There is no tradition of secular political parties in many Muslim countries, and often the biggest, most efficient and most politically savvy competitor for political space are the Islamists.

The most effective of all is the Muslim Brotherhood. We must be clear-eyed about this organization. It manifests itself in different ways in different places.

It cannot be denied that Muslim Brotherhood parties represent a body of public opinion, if not the overwhelming current: in some countries they hold seats in parliament; in Tunisia they were part of an elected government.

We in the UK have received representations from friendly governments in the Middle East that would like us to ban that organization. In 2015, after long consideration, the government decided that the Muslim Brotherhood did not meet the threshold for a proscribed group.

But it is plainly wrong that Islamists should exploit freedoms here in the UK – freedoms of speech and association – that their associates would repress overseas, and it is all too clear that some affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood are willing to turn a blind eye to terrorism.

It was disgraceful that when the Pope visited Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood should call him “the Pope of terrorism” and accuse the Egyptian security forces that were tasked with guarding him of being “Christian militias.” They have repeatedly sought to obscure the crimes of Daesh. Even when Daesh had claimed an attack on St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, on Palm Sunday, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman blamed the Sisi government.

Of course we should challenge Egypt’s government when its standards on human rights and the rule of law fall short of their own country’s constitution – and suppress the open society that Egypt needs in order to succeed – but that is no excuse for the kind of poisonous rhetoric we are seeing from the Muslim Brotherhood. They are exculpating the true culprits and encouraging terrorism by making wild claims about the Egyptian government.

That is among the reasons why this government is applying greater scrutiny to the Muslim Brotherhood: of their visa applications, of their charity work, and of their international links.

And if there is to be that third alternative, neither anti-democratic tyranny, nor Islamism, but pluralist and tolerant then we need to intensify our current work – the development aid programmes in which Britain, and DFID, leads the world.

We are helping by backing human rights groups and NGOs, and helping above all to change one of the most destructive imbalances, one of the greatest barriers to social and economic progress: the cultural and intellectual repression of women.

It is great news that women are finally going to be able to drive in Saudi Arabia – where they already comprise a majority of university students - and the world is willing on that brave programme of reform. But almost a third of Egyptian women cannot read. In Pakistan the adult female illiteracy rate is 60%.

And it is not just women who are being starved of intellectual sustenance. There is currently only one university in the Muslim world that makes the top 200.

Imagine the difference if those universities began to take off, in a spirit of real academic freedom. Imagine the growth in pride and confidence as those universities in Cairo, in Damascus, in Baghdad, in Tunis began to move up the world rankings, to take once again the positions of huge intellectual eminence that those cities occupied in the Middle Ages. Because in the end this is all about self-confidence and belief, not just in universities but in all national institutions.

One of my heroes is the 14th century Tunisian scholar Ibn Khaldoun. He was a great historiographer and economist – he showed that low taxes mean high yields long before Arthur Laffer – he’s one of the founders of sociology.

He identified what is called ‘asabiyyah’, the cohesive loyalty to a group or tribe or sect or movement that propels a dynasty to power. And he showed how time and again that loyalty eventually breaks down, and the dynasty is swept away – usually by violence – in favour of another group.

That is why my friend the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, says that the problem of the Muslim world is that there is not enough nationalism.

Now nationalism is not a fashionable concept in some circles. But it can be immensely valuable. If people have a sense of loyalty and duty to their country, and to its institutions, then those institutions will endure and they will help to promote equity and fairness and respect in society because they command a devotion that goes beyond the narrow selfish imperatives of ‘asabiyyah’.

That is why Britain seeks everywhere to help countries to develop their own respected national institutions: an independent judiciary and army, proud national educational institutions, a national broadcaster and independent national journalists, and a legislature that protects the sovereignty of the people.

And more than anything else it needs people who can tell that national story, build a narrative of success that embraces everyone, brings people together Shia and Sunni in a project that transcends sect and tribe and class.

We are in need of a new school of leaders, women as well as men, and of course the UK can and is helping with our hundreds of Chevening and Commonwealth scholars every year. Never forget that of the current crop of kings queens, presidents and prime ministers, 1 in 7 was educated in this country. Our soft power brings together the development funds and expertise that can help produce the social, educational and political change that will immunize populations from Islamist terror.

And look at the reality of UK hard power: the second biggest defence budget in NATO, one of the few countries capable of deploying air power more than 7,000 miles overseas.

Look at the reality and we are not retreating from our role overseas. On the contrary we are learning what that retreat has cost us in the past. British foreign policy is not part of the problem; it is part of the solution.

And above all we will win when we understand that ‘we’ means not just us in the West but the hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who share the same hopes and dreams, who have the same anxieties and goals for their families as we do, all of us, who are equally engaged with the world and all its excitements and possibilities, who are equally determined to beat this plague.

We can beat it together. And we will.

Press release: Statement on Yemen by Rt Hon Alistair Burt, MP

Responding to the recent escalation of violence in Yemen, Alistair Burt, Minister of State for the Middle East, said:

I am extremely concerned by the recent escalation of violence in Yemen which has led to further tragic deaths and stopped many others from getting lifesaving food, water and medicine. There is no military solution to the conflict and all sides must urgently de-escalate the fighting and find a comprehensive political solution.

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the situation is deteriorating every day. All parties must safeguard civilians, critical infrastructure, and aid workers, and I reiterate the Prime Minister’s call for the immediate restoration of commercial and humanitarian access to all areas of Yemen.

UK aid has provided food to almost two million people and clean water to over one million more, but in a country that depends overwhelmingly on imports for basic supplies including food, fuel, and medicine, unhindered access is the only way to avoid a famine.

I pay tribute to heroic humanitarian workers – British, internationals and Yemenis – who are helping to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people under extremely difficult circumstances.


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Speech: DFID Ghana Country Director's speech at Business Cost of Violence Against Women & Girls in Ghana forum

Honourable Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Distinguished representatives of Government British High Commissioner for Ghana, Members of the Diplomatic Corps Development Partners, academia, representatives of the private sector Traditional leaders, Members of the press. Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon.

It’s great to be here today at the British High Commissioner’s Residence to mark the 16 Days of Activism towards ending gender based violence and to launch preliminary findings from the UK aid-funded study on the “Business Costs of Violence Against Women and Girls in Ghana”.

35% of women across the world have experienced some form of violence in their lives.

As well as a gross violation in itself, Violence Against Women and Girls also limits individuals, communities and societies.

Girls and women who experience violence are less likely to complete their education, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, and are at increased risk of maternal mortality.

For children that see one parent assaulting another, the long-term health and social consequences are similar to those of child abuse and neglect.

For economies, the costs of VAWG are estimated at between 1.2% and 3.7% of GDP. And we will hear more later from Dr Asante and his team on how Violence Against Women impacts on the economy.

In short, violence against women and girls is a global pandemic.

But while the scale of the problem seems daunting, change is possible and is already happening. This year’s 16 Days of Activism is occurring at a time when across the world men and women are standing up to address the issue of violence against women.

The #MeToo movement has gone viral. The hashtag has been used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts. It has trended in at least 85 countries. For too long, violence against women, including sexual harassment and assault, has been unspoken, private, something to be ashamed of. This campaign has succeeded in breaking the silence - providing us with a real sense of the magnitude, and the shocking scale and reach of the phenomenon in both public and private spheres across the world.
And it has opened up a global conversation about men’s behaviour towards women.

Ladies and Gentlemen The UK is proud to be a global leader in efforts to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms. This includes support to women’s rights organisations; tackling the attitudes that make violent behaviour seem normal; getting comprehensive services to those who have experienced violence; and ensuring that national legislation and policies are in place and implemented.

DFID currently works across 12 countries - including Ghana - to tackle Child Early and Forced Marriage – a £39m programme funded by the UK taxpayer. We continue to build on the momentum of the 2014 Girl Summit by supporting new international resolutions on Child Marriage.

The UK also provided financial and technical support to government for the 2016 Domestic Violence in Ghana Survey.

Our new Secretary of State announced last week a £12 million package to help around 750,000 women and girls globally over the next three years.

Studies reveal that in Ghana VAWG is deep-rooted and widespread. We know from a UK aid funded Domestic Violence in Ghana survey that an estimated 71.5% of women and 71.4% of men reported having experienced at least one form of violence (domestic and non-domestic) over their lifetime. A number of other harmful traditional practices still exist in Ghana, including female ritual slavery, FGM, Child Early Forced Marriage, widowhood rites and witch’s camps.

We appreciate that the Government, under the leadership of the Honourable Minister, is actively addressing these challenges - through the work of the Domestic Violence Secretariat, and ongoing reforms are being put in place to tackle violence against women. For example, laws have been passed on inheritance rights, FGM, the Children’s Act (1998), Human Trafficking Act (2005), Domestic Violence Act (2007).

I mentioned earlier the UK’s global lead in efforts to address VAWG.

Ghana could also be a global leader on this issue. In the past week His Excellency the President has passionately espoused the need for African countries to grow “beyond aid”. The President is championing gender equality and ensured that women are represented at the very highest levels in his government with 29 female parliamentarians and 20 female Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

The President is also the AU Gender Champion and Co-chair of Advocates for the SDGs.

Ghana, as it prepares to organise a Girls’ Summit in 2018, could take a leadership role in addressing VAWG across the region, if not the continent. The UK stands ready to support this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today, the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) - University of Ghana – will present preliminary findings from a survey conducted among 100 businesses in Ghana assessing how domestic violence impacts businesses.

The UK aid-funded research looking at the Economic and Social Costs of Violence against Women and Girls is a three year multi-country project that estimates the costs of violence, both social and economic, to individuals and households, businesses and communities in Ghana, Pakistan and South Sudan. As we stand here this afternoon, people are similarly gathered - but in a much colder London - to launch the findings from South Sudan.

No such analysis has previously been carried out in Ghana, or indeed elsewhere in West Africa. The impact of the Ghana study, once assessed, is therefore likely to be significant – with the new data helping us better understand the impact of Violence Against Women on community cohesion, economic stability and development and providing further evidence for government to accelerate efforts to address Violence Against Women.

Before I hand over to the Honourable Minister to say a few words, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Minister for agreeing to assume the Chairmanship of the National Advisory Board (NAB) – the body which will ensure that the research is used effectively to advocate for increased resources and emphasis on the elimination of violence against women in Ghana.

In conclusion, I’d like us all to remain alert to the fact that VAWG is present in our homes and our work places. With the #MeToo movement in mind, let us create opportunities to break the silence, opened up a conversation about men’s behaviour towards women, and be bold for change in order to end the violence.

I’d now like to introduce the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection – Honourable Otiko Afisa Djaba.

Thank You.

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