Last Update 14:54
Wednesday, 19 June 2019

UK appoints first international human rights ambassador

Reuters , Monday 20 May 2019
Rita French
Rita French, UK’s new Deputy Permanent Representative and International Ambassador for Human Rights (Photo: Courtesy of Rita French official Twitter account (@RitaUNHR))
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Britain appointed its first international ambassador for human rights on Monday to support its work in the United Nations and promote its campaigns around the world.

Rita French will be based in Geneva and will focus on issues including modern slavery, media freedom and rights of religious expression, the government said.

"Ambassador French's new role will be central to our work in defending human rights across the globe," said Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a statement.

"Standing up for human rights is not only the right thing - it helps to create a stable, more prosperous world."

French, an economist, first worked for the government advising on tax. She served as a senior aide to Hunt during his time as culture minister, overseeing the organisation of the 2012 Olympics.

Human rights groups welcomed the announcement but urged Britain to scrutinise its own record.

"The appointment of Ambassador French is an encouraging one, especially if it helps make the UK's human rights work more principled, consistent and robust," said Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.

She said French would face "an immediate test" in how Britain responded to current human rights violations in countries including China and Saudi Arabia.

French will support the UK's permanent representative in Geneva, Julian Braithwaite, and will act as the deputy permanent Representative to the UN

She will also work with individual countries to help them meet their human rights commitments.

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