Foreign Office to double budget for promoting human rights following criticism

Philip Hammond will announce creation of new £10.6m Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy

The Government is to double the Foreign Office budget for promoting human rights following criticism that it had been downgraded.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will announce the creation of a new £10.6m annual Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy to promote democracy and the rule of law in more than 60 countries.

The new fund is expected to target projects in areas with poor human rights records such as Iraq, China and the Gulf. The move comes just months after the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office told a Parliamentary Committee that human rights were no longer a “top priority”. 

The department was also criticised this month for leaving Saudi Arabia off a list of countries to be targeted for its use of the death penalty. 

Mr Hammond said strengthening civil society and the rule of law in other countries would help bring stability that would directly benefit the UK. “The Magna Carta Fund is an important tool for our diplomacy; helping to prevent conflict, strengthening the rule-based international system, and promoting human rights,” he said. 

The Foreign Office added that the fund would concentrate resources on projects designed to promote democratic values and the rule of law as well as human rights.

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