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 projectssome very largethat 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 http://humanrights.britishcouncil.org.
Leaflets about the Human Rights Network are
also attached at Annex B.
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