Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the British Council


  1.  This submission from the British Council responds to the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee's to interested organisations to make submissions in relation to the Government's Human Rights Annual Report 2001.

  2.  The British Council welcomes the Human Rights Report and the increased level of detailed information on government policy and activity on human rights both at home and abroad. The British Council also welcomes the coverage of our human rights work that is included in the Human Rights Report.

  3.  This submission highlights the British Council's approach to human rights and a new human rights internet initiative, the Human Rights Network. This submission also includes Annex A which gives further details of our work on human rights around the world in 2001, all of which contributes to the Government's foreign policy objectives of spreading the values of human rights, civil liberties, democracy and the rule of law.


  4.  The British Council works in partnership with people around the world to share knowledge and best practice in human rights. The British Council is ideally placed to perform this task for the UK because it is a people-to-people organisation that works with all sections of civil society, governments and the private sector where appropriate. We work by bringing people together so that they can share ideas and experience and see for themselves how human rights values can be translated into action. Often this is done through seminars and meetings, but we also design and manage projects—some very large—that enable people to learn from each other by working together. In all these activities, the British Council is seen as an honest broker and a trusted and independent intermediary.

  5.  The British Council has the great advantage of being able to draw on expertise in the arts, information, education and English language teaching. Non-conventional means such as theatre and music to promote better awareness of human rights are an excellent way of engaging young people and a wider public, and can cut across cultural and social barriers in a way that is impossible using more direct means. The Annex provides details of some of these initiatives such as the human rights film and cartoon festivals in India and Bangladesh.

  6.  The British Council works with both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development on human rights programmes. We spend approximately £4.5 million of our grant-in-aid from the FCO on governance and human rights programmes. We also manage many human rights projects: some are multi-million pound projects designed by DfID; others are smaller projects designed by the British Council and its partners and funded by the FCO Human Rights Project Fund. We also work with other parts of Government such as the Lord Chancellor's Department on human rights initiatives.


  7.  In June 2001, the British Council launched a new Human Rights Network. This is a web-based service that brings together people with an interest in human rights. Lawyers, academics, politicians, civil servants, activists and students now have access to a wide range of information sources on human rights.

  8.  The Human Rights Network provides a "one-stop shop" for human rights news and information from around the world including information about the work of human rights organisations in the UK and the Commonwealth. This includes access to information about the Government's foreign policy on human rights and the FCO Human Rights Project Fund. The Human Rights Network uses the newest web technology to provide fast and easy access to focused, relevant and current information and news on human rights.

  9.  The Human Rights Network is also a forum for people working on human rights to share ideas and experience in order to develop new ways of working together for greater impact. The service facilitates networking through a discussion forum enabling people from around the world to debate issues, request information and find the right contacts.

  10.  The British Council encourages the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to see the Human Rights Network for themselves at

  Leaflets about the Human Rights Network are also attached at Annex B.[7]

7   Not herewith printed. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 28 February 2002