William Hague to promise 'foreign policy with a conscience'

Foreign Secretary William Hague will today declare his commitment to the protection of human rights around the world, insisting it is not in Britain's interests to pursue "a foreign policy without a conscience".







Mr Hague will use the third in a series of linked speeches on foreign policy to announce that he is setting up a new group - including aid agencies and independent experts - to advise ministers on human rights issues.



He will also say that the Foreign Office is reissuing guidance to its staff on the need to report any incidents of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that they encounter in the course of their work.



"There will be no downgrading of human rights under this Government and no resiling from our commitments to aid and development. Indeed I intend to improve and strengthen our human rights work," he is expected to say.



"It is not in our character as a nation to have a foreign policy without a conscience, and neither is it in our interests.



"We cannot achieve long-term security and prosperity unless we uphold our values. Where human rights abuses go unchecked our security suffers. And our international influence will bleed away unless we maintain our international standing and cultural influence."



His comments carry echoes of former foreign secretary Robin Cook's declaration at the start of the last Labour government that it would pursue a foreign policy with an "ethical dimension".



However Mr Hague will also stress that "idealism in foreign policy always needs to be tempered by realism".



While he will say that the Government will raise human rights concerns "wherever and whenever they arise" - including with countries where the UK is trying to build closer ties - it will be guided in its actions by what is achievable.



"Our starting point for engagement on human rights with all countries will be based on what is practical, realistic and achievable, although we will always be ready to speak out as a matter of principle," he is expected to say.



He will acknowledge that Britain's reputation has been damaged by allegations that intelligence officers were complicit in the abuse of suspected terrorists held overseas but insisted lessons would be learned.



"Our standing is directly linked to the belief of others that we will do what we say and that we will not apply double standards," he is expected to say.



"Where problems have arisen that have affected the UK's moral standing we will deal with them patiently and clearly. We will act on the lessons learnt, and tackle the difficult issues we currently face head on."



Mr Hague will confirm that the Foreign Office will continue the previous government's practice of publishing an annual human rights report - although it will no longer be a glossy document but a simple parliamentary paper.



Shadow foreign secretary David Miliband welcomed the confirmation that the report would be retained, but accused Mr Hague of diverting resources away from human rights issues and frontline diplomatic services.



"William Hague has cut programmes on human rights and democracy by £560,000 this financial year, while the Government has watered down Labour's policy for a universal standard for arms sales," he said.



"The last Foreign Office had a ministerial team half the size of this Government's. The Foreign Secretary could protect his resources by spending less on ministerial perks, while retaining the diplomatic front line."

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits