UK Is Committed To Eliminating Violence Against Women And Girls

Bruce Bucknell

Bruce Bucknell

Thank you for agreeing to include us – the British Deputy High Commission in Kolkata – as a partner for this event today.

I congratulate Sister Monica Suchiang – Director, Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre and her team for organising this two-day conference. And for bringing together participants from across India and overseas.

But I’m not happy that we are discussing this subject in the year 2017. It is an abhorrent crime.

Victims of human trafficking are subject to terrible mistreatment and exploitation. Those who engage in it don’t recognise the dignity or worth of human beings. People are not commodities.

We should bring to justice those who perpetrate these crimes and exploit other human beings, often at the most vulnerable points in their lives, for personal or commercial gain. We should not tolerate it.

It’s not just about individual human beings. Human trafficking erodes the security and cohesion of communities. It undermines the prosperity of nations.

Forced labour and human trafficking is a global problem. Traffickers respect neither borders nor jurisdictions. As such it requires a global response. It is shocking to say it but there are approximately 40 million victims worldwide.

This is not a problem for others – we estimate there are between 10,000-13,000 victims in the UK.

The UK Government is committed to the eradication of all forms forced labour and human trafficking by 2030, as unanimously adopted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 (SDG 8.7).

The British Prime Minister has made tackling this issue a top foreign policy priority. She is advocating better international coordination to deliver commitments made under the UN Sustainable Development Goal.

Governments and international agencies should prioritise interventions and resources to tackle the issues and support victims.

Here in India, my government has supported a number of projects around these issues. They include:

  • paralegal training programme for 660 Dalit human rights defenders in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana and Maharashtra
  • capacity building of law enforcement agencies when dealing with victims of Human Trafficking
  • The British Department for International Development has undertaken various programmes to support the empowerment of people who are vulnerable to trafficking and forced labour.

The Poorest Areas Civil Society programme (PACS) works through local civil society organisations to support over 9 million of the poorest people to access their entitlements, thereby reducing their risk of forced labour.

The Orissa Girls Incentive Programme supported nearly 1.3m disadvantaged adolescents (including over 600,000 girls) to stay in school and reduce their risk of early marriage and trafficking.

DFID’s regional programme with the ILO, Work in Freedom (WIF), supports safe migration and government capacity building at national and state level. Over 90,000 women have benefited from training to help them make informed migration decisions, and so reduce their risk of being trafficked from India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In India, I know there is a draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, which would set up an organised crime investigative agency to rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking and investigate human trafficking cases. I hope that disagreements on the scope of the bill can be resolved soon.

Human trafficking often preys on the most vulnerable in society – that is women and girls.

Today also happens to be the International day on elimination of violence against women. Violence against women and girls is an issue that the UK is committed to eliminating.

It is also the first day of the UN-led 16 Days of Activism with the theme of ‘Leave no-one behind’.

What to do?

We need to continue to collaborate and cooperate with one another and together and end these abhorrent crimes once and for all.

We need to promote cooperation amongst the full range of stakeholders: the private sector, civil society, and law enforcement and other frontline agencies.

We need to improve understanding of the issues amongst the general public and amongst communities vulnerable to exploitation.

We need to work to ensure better victim safeguarding coordination to connect victims to appropriate support and reintegration services to reduce the risk of re-exploitation.

[SDG 8.7 – Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms]

On The Occasion Of The Inauguration Of The New President Of The Kyrgyz Republic

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The United States government congratulates the Kyrgyz Republic’s newly elected President, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, on his inauguration, which took place today in Bishkek.

The United States commends President Jeenbekov and the Kyrgyz people on their commitment to democracy, the orderly election process, and a peaceful transfer of power, the first such transition between democratically elected leaders in Central Asian history.

The United States has been a friend and partner of the Kyrgyz Republic for more than 25 years, and we remain committed to the Kyrgyz Republic’s success as a democratic, prosperous, and stable country.

The United States looks forward to working with the newly elected President and his administration in the spirit of equality, trust, and mutual respect.

The UK Steps Up To Lead Global Drive To Tackle Violence Against Girls And Women

Picture: Jessica Lea/DFID

Picture: Jessica Lea/DFID

Britain is leading the global push to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms around the world, announced International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

Ms Mordaunt set out a new package of UK support to protect women and girls in some of the world’s poorest countries from practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage and domestic and sexual violence.

This extra UK aid is expected to help around 750,000 women and girls globally over the next three years, by increasing access to crucial services like legal assistance, healthcare, counselling, safe spaces for survivors and working with communities to prevent and break the cycles of violence.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

It is truly shocking that violence against women and girls remains one of the most systemic, widespread human rights violations worldwide. The high rates of this crime across the world are a global scandal.

I am proud to say that the UK is leading international efforts across more than 30 countries to eliminate violence against women and girls in all its forms – from ending Female Genital Mutilation and child marriage, to preventing and addressing domestic and sexual violence.

Today we are stepping up our leadership – working closely with women leaders and grassroots charities – to help even more survivors in some of the world’s poorest countries overcome the traumas of violence and tackle the root causes of this crime.

DFID will provide up to £12 million to the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (UNTF) over three years. This vital UK aid will support local, national, regional and cross-border efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender based violence in conflict areas.

Aldijana Sisic, Chief of the UN Trust Fund said:

This year’s commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women comes at a unique moment coinciding with the unprecedented mobilisation of millions of voices of survivors of violence behind the #MeToo movement.

Violence against women is not inevitable and it can be ended with a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach. This is why the UN Trust Fund welcomes the renewed contribution of the UK as well as its ongoing global leadership and support for preventing and ending violence against women and girls and its root causes.

The UK is already leading international efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls in all its forms. UK aid is pioneering 15 innovative approaches to prevent gender based violence across 12 countries, reaching an estimated 100,000 people. For example, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, DFID is helping support schools to better protect children. In Bangladesh, the UK is working with businesses and grassroots organisations to end harassment of women workers in garment factories.

Liechtenstein Farewell Speech

Parliament Street (SW1)

Parliament Street (SW1)

British Ambassador: “Liechtenstein will play an increasingly prominent role in our economic future”

On 24 November David Moran made his farewell visit to Liechtenstein after four years as British Ambassador. He met Prime Minister Adrian Hasler and gave a speech on UK-Liechtenstein relations.

“The bilateral relationship has never been so good, with rapidly growing contacts between Ministerial and officials… Our two- way trade was worth £107 million in 2015 – 600% up in 2005 levels. Liechtenstein’s foreign direct investment into the U.K. Is worth £4.5 billion”

Liechtenstein is Britain’s second largest investor per capita, responsible for over 1,000 British jobs. Ambassador Moran said that in the context of the UK’s exit from the EU “Liechtenstein’s importance as a bilateral commercial partner and member of the EEA and the Swiss Customs Union makes engagement a priority.”

Moran also welcomed new procedures and processes designed to help UK taxpayers to ensure that they are UK tax compliant when investing in banking, insurance and trust markets in Liechtenstein. “Arrangements such as the ones you recently introduced which are designed to promote tax compliance deserve recognition. One of the main reasons why I am here today is to offer that encouragement. I am pleased that Liechtenstein has seen the opportunities brought about by automatic exchange of tax information and has taken the initiative to cultivate an even higher compliance culture. This is the kind of progress the UK’s global tax governance initiatives are designed to foster. I look forward to seeing the full fruits of Liechtenstein’s reforms as they go forward.”

The full speech is available here

Lord Chancellor Speech At Launch Of TheCityUK’s Legal Services Report 2017

The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

The Rt Hon David Lidington MP

It’s a pleasure to be here today at the launch of TheCityUK’s Legal Services report for 2017, and can I add my thanks also James to you and Herbert Smith Freehills for hosting this event.

Every year, your report holds a mirror up to our legal services sector. In doing so, it allows us to reflect upon the strengths and successes of this country’s formidable and world-leading legal services.

This year I think the findings of the report should serve as a source of great pride and satisfaction for those who work in our legal services. It is also an important reminder to all of us, of the enormous contribution legal services make – not just to London, but to all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom – and I welcome in particular the focus of the report on the wider contribution the sector makes to the country. It’s particularly apposite given that the new Lord Mayor in his speech to the Guildhall last week part of his role should be to promote the City.

We can look at the contribution of the sector in a number of ways:

  • to jobs: legal services employ over 300,000 people across the country, two thirds of these outside London. James mentioned Belfast but he could just as readily have mentioned Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool.
  • to the economy: directly contributing around £24 billion last year with a trade surplus of £4 billion, and more broadly, underpinning the wider business and financial sectors.
  • but I don’t think either we should neglect what I would term the contribution to the UK’s soft power, our global reputation: our legal services market is one of the top, most admired and respected anywhere in the world.

Now for the government, we are committed to protecting and promoting the legal services sector – the benefits that its energy and vibrancy bring to the economy and the country.

The report rightly raises the potential impact of EU exit on our legal services. I understand there is a real appetite from the sector for the government to make more announcements about where we are in the negotiations. I get that from your clients’ perspective, one of the biggest deciding factors on whether to use English law to govern their contracts is the enforceability of decisions.

I’ll say now what I said when I spoke at TheCityUK Advisory Council earlier this month, the government is committed to securing continuity and certainty for business as part of the exit negotiations. And that includes taking seriously, and giving a high priority to securing, market access for the legal services sector, and ensuring we have ongoing civil judicial co-operation after we leave the European Union – something that I believe is profoundly in the interests of families and individuals in this country but to the corporate sector and tens of thousands of families in the EU too.

I recognise that, as in any negotiation, there is uncertainty about the precise outcome that will be secured, but I want to reiterate the government’s commitment to ensuring that we have an outcome that protects and promotes our legal services. In particular, that means seeking an outcome that replicates the existing principles with the European Union, for example by incorporating the Rome I and Rome II regulations into domestic law and by continuing our participation in the Hague and Lugano conventions.

And I am highlighting to my counterparts across the EU27 – and shall do so again at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in early December – how vital this is for individuals, families and businesses across Europe.

As we go through these negotiations, we should not lose sight of the fact that our legal services in the United Kingdom are built on strong and deep foundations. They are underpinned by a strong commitment to the Rule of Law, by the certainty and clarity of Common Law in England that has evolved over centuries and by an independent, impartial and incorruptible judiciary that is recognised and respected across the world. These strengths make the United Kingdom a hugely attractive destination for litigants and legal service providers alike, now and in the future.

But in a globally competitive marketplace, where I’m all too conscious that other countries and other jurisdictions are contending for legal business, we must ensure that the United Kingdom’s legal heritage, expertise, innovation and prowess in legal services and the benefits of having disputes settled here is plain for potential clients to see.

That is why, in October, we launched our international ‘Legal Services are GREAT’ campaign. Now the ‘GREAT’ campaign has an interesting history. It was devised by David Cameron to take advantage of the spotlight on this country as a result of the Olympics and Paralympics being held here. It will showcase the expertise of our legal services, the integrity and experience of our judiciary and the benefits of using English Common Law to a global audience that will help us build stronger links with both established but also emerging markets.

The message of the campaign is simple: the United Kingdom is home to the best legal services in the world. Whether that’s London as a global centre for dispute resolution, or Scotland and Northern Ireland as world-leading centres in their own specific areas of distinct legal expertise.

As the 2017 report makes clear, technology and innovation in legal services will be key to ensuring the United Kingdom stands out. That’s why the government, building on the success seen in the Fintech sector, is ensuring that new and innovative legal technologies are embraced and supported. These have the potential to drive down costs, improve quality and fundamentally transform how services are used.

One such example is smart contracts, which are expected to increase trust and certainty, and reduce friction in the performance of business and other contractual agreements. Smart contracts will have a profound impact on the delivery of legal services and the government is exploring how we can use these new technologies to ensure that English law and UK courts remain a competitive choice worldwide.

The data and insights that are included within TheCityUK’s legal services reports are vital tools in our promotion of these messages and in determining our global standing and I’d like to thank TheCityUK for all of the work that has gone into this year’s report.

The ‘Legal Services are GREAT’ campaign is an important part of our global message about the incredible assets and services that the United Kingdom offers. It’s a message, too, about our future trading ambitions. It’s about ensuring our legal services can both take advantage of and support our future trade arrangements beyond EU exit.

The government is taking a significant step in preparing to leave the European Union by making arrangements for our future independent trade policy, and legislation will be introduced and debated in Parliament in the next 12 months to ensure the necessary statutory underpinning of that trade policy.

Trade is a key driver of growth and prosperity. International trade is linked to many jobs; it leads to higher wages and contributes to a growing economy.

That’s why we are committed to ensuring that our world-class legal services serve as catalyst for future trade, and that the crucial role they play in underpinning the growth of wider business is maintained and understood.


So I welcome TheCityUK’s work on this with its own vison for a transformed, world-leading legal services industry.

That vision sees the United Kingdom continuing to offer a clear and consistent system of law, with a sector that is highly digitalised and innovative….one where London continues to be an international hub for finance and legal services, but where there are also regional centres that serve as specialist hubs.

I have no doubt that the strong and deep foundations on which our legal services are built, combined with the innovation and vision within the sector to embrace new opportunities and new technologies, mean that we will see our legal services not just lead the world, but continue to be the envy of the world. Thank you very much.

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