Harriet Baldwin – 2018 Speech on International Law

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriet Baldwin, the Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Minister of State for International Development, on 17 May 2018.

Thank you very much Mr President, and your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United Kingdom, I also would like to thank the Polish Presidency for arranging today’s important discussion and also add my thanks to our distinguished briefers this morning.

Mr President, there are few values more important to the United Kingdom than upholding international law. It is the very foundation of peace and security.

Today, conflicts and tragedies in Syria, Burma, Ukraine and elsewhere have shown us the importance of this commitment and the consequences of the failure to do so. In Syria, appalling violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by the regime and its backers continue. Russia’s veto in this Council, which stopped the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, means that there is currently no means available to properly investigate the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. In Burma, the authorities have yet to begin a credible domestic investigation into the clear violations of human rights law in Rakhine State. Yet it is imperative that there is a route to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account. And in Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea four years ago represents an egregious assault on international law. The enduring conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to destroy lives.

Mr President, when armed conflicts break out, it is vital that all parties respect international humanitarian law and act in accordance with their obligations under it. As members of the international community, and members of the Security Council, we are all responsible for upholding international rules and norms. Today we must ask ourselves how we discharge that responsibility. The ‘Strengthening Respect for International Humanitarian Law’ initiative facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government has the significant potential to aid this effort. It is a valuable first step and I encourage all states to engage with that process – but this alone is not sufficient.

Enabling the meaningful participation of women in decision-making is also key to upholding the rule of law. We know inclusive decision-making processes are critical in preventing the escalation of conflict and in maintaining and supporting peace in post-conflict societies. I call on states to act upon the commitments agreed in Security Council resolutions on Women, Peace and Security and recognise these to be an integral part of our effort to maintain peace and security.

Mr President, there will, sadly, be times when violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law do occur. There must be no impunity in such instances. It is, of course, states themselves that have the primary responsibility to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. But we, as the international community, also have a role in helping states meet their responsibilities.

A year ago, this Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 2379 (2017) setting up an investigative team to assist efforts to hold Daesh accountable for crimes committed in Iraq. That team will collect, preserve and analyse evidence of Daesh’s heinous crimes and will work closely with the Government of Iraq and organisations already collecting such evidence. We hope that all states will support this important mechanism by contributing to the UN Trust Fund.

Mr President, the UK has strongly supported resolutions at the Human Rights Council aimed at increasing accountability. We welcome the efforts of the Secretary General and UN Secretariat to mainstream the promotion and protection of human rights in all United Nations activities. The UN’s human rights tools such as monitoring, reporting and analysis, can provide key early warning systems, and help to identify and address the root causes of conflict, as a means of prompting an effective and early United Nations response.

The International Criminal Court also has a key role to play restoring peace and security. It ensures accountability, acts as a deterrent, supports victims, and helps to establish an historical narrative of accountability. However, for it to succeed, the Court requires the full cooperation of states. Its inability to act directly against those it seeks to arrest, makes it entirely reliant on states to execute the arrest warrants it issues, but for too long and too frequently those indicted by the Court have been able to travel freely, without fear of arrest and prosecution. We therefore urge all states to honour UNSCRs 1970 and 1593 by cooperating fully with the Court and its Prosecutor.

The ad hoc international tribunals set up by the Security Council were crucial in bringing to justice those most responsible for the terrible crimes committed in Rwanda and the Balkans during the 1990s. We are so grateful to President Meron and his colleagues for taking forward this important work in the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. We hope that states will continue to ensure that the Mechanism has sufficient resources to fulfil its mandate. We note also the important role played, over many years, by the International Court of Justice in ensuring the maintenance of international peace and security.

In summary, the UK believes we must continue to work together to deliver accountability, justice, and reaffirm our commitment to the core tenets of international law.

Thank you.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech at FinTech

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the Guildhall in the City of London on 11 April 2016.

Thank you for inviting me here today. It is a pleasure to speak at this key event in the FinTech calendar – a chance to bring the entire industry together to celebrate UK FinTech’s achievements, and ensure we continue to be the best place in the world to be a successful FinTech business.

I’m delighted to see so many great speakers lined up for you today, covering such a broad range of subject matter – from blockchain and digital currencies, to alternative finance and expanding banking to the 2 billion unbanked people in the world.

What is clear is that there is huge excitement about the potential for FinTech to make profound changes to the way we go about our financial affairs. It is right that the UK continues to be at the very heart of that.

We are the global capital for FinTech. The recent EY report on FinTech, commissioned by HM Treasury, ranks us above other FinTech hotspots such as California, New York and Singapore.

The UK FinTech sector generated £6.6 billion revenue in 2015. With a workforce of over 60,000 employees, more people work in UK FinTech than in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia combined.

This is a very strong start – but our ambitions are even greater. We need to ensure that the UK continues to be the best place in the world to be a FinTech company. That is why I am today delighted to be announcing a set of measures to deliver key FinTech initiatives.

First, to ensure that we effectively deliver on our FinTech commitments, we will create an industry-led FinTech panel, working with Tech City UK as well as Innovate Finance and other key representatives of the FinTech community.

This industry-led panel will oversee the overarching strategy for UK FinTech and ensure the delivery of key initiatives. It will also will have its very own delivery support function, which will monitor and drive initiatives to fruition. It will accelerate the time to market of government and industry initiatives, ensuring that they are targeted where they will add most value.

One initiative that we particularly wish to see delivered is the implementation of an open banking standard. This will be great news for FinTechs and other innovators – it will allow them to use bank data to provide a range of value-added services to consumers, and will really shake up the way customers can access and use financial services.

The Open Banking Working Group published its report on the open banking standard and we are now working closely with industry to agree the next steps.

Through the Financial Advice Market Review too, there was overwhelming support for a Pensions Dashboard that would allow people to access their pension data easily, viewing all of their pension savings in one place. This could help them gain a better understanding of what actions they can take to ensure a comfortable income in retirement.

That is why I am delighted to act as ministerial champion to support industry in designing and delivering the dashboard, and I hope that we can collaborate to bring this technology to consumers.

We recognise that government will need to play a critical role in ensuring that we have the right framework within which customers’ data can be safely shared. And I very much hope that you, along with other parts of the financial sector, will join us in making it happen.

As well as delivering key initiatives, we also want to take additional action to ensure that FinTechs thrive in the UK.

I know that talent matters. The government has already committed to ensuring that we have the exceptional talent needed in the digital technology field through the UK visa system.

After feedback from the digital community, The Tech Nation Visa Scheme was enhanced in October 2015 to include new qualifying criteria for digital experts. This will allow for a wider range of FinTech specialists to get a visa to work in the UK.

Regulation matters too. Government has a key role in ensuring the right regulatory environment in which FinTechs can thrive. As the EY report acknowledges, we already have a world leading regulatory system in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – known for its simplicity, transparency and industry-led approach.

UK FinTechs have praised the role of the FCA in helping them to navigate regulatory complexity through Project Innovate. You know it must be working when regulators from around the world are replicating the innovative model of the Innovation Hub!

The FCA is also looking into how to support the development and adoption of new technologies that facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements, so called ‘RegTech’, and we’ve announced the creation of a regulatory sandbox to allow innovative businesses a ‘safe space’ to test innovative products and services.

As I’m sure you are aware, the FCA announced that the sandbox will start accepting testing applications on 9 May, and Chris will be following me on stage shortly to take you through how the sandbox will work in greater detail.

But we aren’t just focused on the regulatory sphere. We recognise that FinTechs start-ups can find other aspects of the existing landscape challenging, such as trying to find basic professional services, be those legal, accounting, human resources or regulatory compliance.

To this end, we will make it easier for UK FinTechs to access the professional services they need.

Drawing on Tech City UK’s deep understanding of the tech community, industry will build an information hub that makes it easier for FinTechs to navigate through the range of services providers and find the help that will benefit their businesses.

We also recognise that professional services can be costly, particularly when FinTechs are first starting out. We will therefore work with industry to launch an initiative which will look to bring the major professional services providers together to provide FinTechs with practical and cost-effective basic services.

This could be similar to existing programmes, such as EY’s FinTech talent program in which high performing staff are seconded directly into FinTechs on a pro-bono basis.

We will look to ensure as many professional services firms as possible make their services available. EY have already indicated their interest in the programme, and I hope many more professional service providers will join up.

Last but not least, we want FinTech to reach every part of the UK and have success overseas.

The UK leads across a broad range of FinTech specialisms – from digital currencies to alternative lending, e-commerce and many others. There are few areas of FinTech that the UK does not have an interest in. But in a globalised world, there can also be benefits to specialisation. With specialisation comes a concentration of knowledge, efficiencies, and a potential market edge.

That is why I am keen to see the continued growth of regional FinTech hubs around the UK and would like your thoughts on what else the government can do to encourage this.

This could be about how best to encourage links between academia and industry, or to establish research hubs, or simply enlisting special envoys to further champion the development of FinTech in the regions.

So I am today asking you, the industry, to share your experience and your ideas for how we can best ensure continued and sustainable growth of FinTechs all across the UK.

Now one of the fascinating aspects of being a Treasury Minister is the sheer amount of jargon that comes across your desk. I’ve got used to the notion of research catapults and regulatory sandboxes – and it now gives me great pleasure to announce that the next way the UK will continue to maintain our leading global position is through the development of “FinTech bridges”.

HM Treasury will work with UK Trade and Investment to establish “FinTech bridges” with priority markets. These bridges will help UK FinTech firms expand internationally, as well as attracting international FinTech companies and investors to the UK.

This builds on the great work of the FCA’s Project Innovate, which promotes competition in the interests of consumers by helping put UK-based innovative business in touch with the right regulators, and also helps non-UK innovators in entering the UK market.

I am delighted that, just over a month after EY delivered their report during FinTech week, we are making real progress on delivering against many of their recommendations.

Today we announce a set of new measures: an industry-led FinTech panel; greater support to help UK FinTechs as they develop nationwide and FinTech bridges with priority export market.

I hope that you, the industry, will help us drive them forward.

But please be assured that this is just the start of our beautiful friendship – and that we will be announcing other ways we can help you help UK consumers.

In the meantime, I look forward to continuing working with you to make sure the UK’s environment for FinTech is the best that it can possibly be.

Thank you – and have a great summit.

Harriet Baldwin – 2016 Speech on Green Finance

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriet Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the Mansion House in London on 14 January 2016.

Thank you, Lord Mayor, for your kind words of introduction and for hosting us here at Mansion House. It is always a pleasure to be here in such wonderful surroundings.

We have heard – and will hear – a lot today about 2016 being the year of green finance, and I very much want to see this come true.

There is real momentum in the green finance sector, and we believe the UK should pull the stops out to make the most of the opportunities it offers.

You’ll be hearing from some truly expert speakers shortly, but I wanted to set out why this is such a political priority.

Last month in Paris at the UN Climate Change Conference, CoP21, we witnessed a historic step forward. The whole world committed to concrete, practical steps to deliver the low-carbon, green economy that is integral to ensure our long-term economic and global security.

This agreement drives us forward on our path to limiting global temperature rises to below 2 degrees. We also saw agreement to conduct regular reviews of countries’ climate commitments and reached a deal on climate finance.

But this costs money. The International Energy Agency estimates that $53 trillion of investment will be required to meet the 2 degrees target agreed at CoP21. Government agreements are necessary, but they are not sufficient. We need much more investment in infrastructure and technology.

It is clear that public sector money alone won’t cover the cost; we need to mobilise private capital. And that is where green finance is key.

This is about using the power of financial markets to help meet these challenges – through the provision of green loans for sustainable investment, through green insurance, and, critically, through capital markets.

Capital markets are particularly important, because they can channel large-scale investment into sustainable projects – water treatment, waste management, renewables, clean transportation networks and more.

The best way they can do this is through green bonds.

Now you often hear about the importance of innovation, but innovation can translate into complexity. And fund managers don’t like complexity; they like simplicity and they like returns. In my former life I was a fund manager, so I speak with some experience!

But green bonds are attractive precisely because they are simple. They have the same recourse to the issuer as traditional debt. They have no specialised cash-flows, and no financial engineering.

The green bond market is at an exciting time of expansion. Between 2012 and 2013 the market tripled in size. Then it tripled again the year after. And last year we saw $42 billion of green bonds issued, the greatest volume yet.

I want to see this market continue to grow – and grow – and grow. And I want the UK to be at the centre. For green bonds to succeed, we need a robust framework. The International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles are a great start. These make clear what issuers need to do. And we are seeing great work from bodies such as the Climate Bond Initiative to accredit green bonds and to create a growing industry in second opinion providers.

The London Stock Exchange, too, has established a designated green bond segment on its market, which, in order for an issuer to qualify, requires a second opinion to certify the nature of the bond.

It is important, though, that market participants such as you take this work further, to ensure rigorous, repeatable and scalable processes.

We are seeing huge investor appetite for this new asset class. This is fantastic to see. But under the weight of investor demand, we cannot risk ‘green washing’, whereby proceeds are used to finance questionable projects. We need definitions, standards and transparency. And we need global cooperation to help achieve this.

China understands this. Green finance is a part of the solution to its own environmental challenges. By mobilising private capital, China can channel investment into the crucial infrastructure it needs most. And to ensure this market scales up quickly, it is showing global thought leadership.

China has established a green finance task force to hardwire sustainable outcomes into its domestic capital market development. This is looking at standards and definitions to developing a robust framework. And we’ve recently seen the People’s Bank of China and the National Development and Reform Commission issue new guidance, including definitions and disclosure rules, to help this market grow.

India, too, is looking at ways to grow its own green finance market. Prime Minister Modi has made ambitious pledges on renewables. While the securities regulator has just this week finalised its official green bond requirements, and has stated that it sees green bonds as a valuable tool for meeting India’s pledges at CoP21. These are valuable efforts. What we now need, building on these efforts, is international collaboration, so that we can make the most of all these valuable efforts and ensure they are coordinated.

It is therefore fantastic to see that China, under its Presidency of the G20, has established a Green Finance Study Group, which will be co-chaired by the People’s Bank of China and our very own Bank of England.

As a government, we’re giving our full backing to this Study Group, and we’ll be ensuring that we are well represented by the Treasury when it meets later this month.

You will be hearing shortly from the very distinguished Ma Jun, whom I had the pleasure to meet in Beijing last year and who will be able to tell you much more about this.

A few moments ago, I said that there was real momentum in the green finance sector. And I’d like to offer a few thoughts on how London can make the most of this momentum.

I strongly believe there is a strategic opportunity for the UK to play the central role in financing the world’s transition to a low carbon economy, and be the partner of choice for the fast growing economies of Asia in green finance and beyond.

London is already the third largest bond market in the world, accounting for approximately 9% of total global issuance. Impressively, by 2014, 21% of the issuances were in non- sterling currencies.

Further to that, in October we saw the Agricultural Bank of China issue a $1bn green bond here in London, the first ever green bond by a Chinese bank. It was a huge success, with the RMB tranche eight times over-subscribed.

And we have seen the International Finance Corporation issue the world’s first ever green rupee-denominated, or ‘green masala’, bond, here in London.

We already have some truly world-leading players in green finance here in the UK, such as Aviva and HSBC. But there is certainly the potential for a great deal more.

If we’re serious about making this ambition a reality, then all the players – the City, government, and industry, have to work closely together – to spot opportunities and coordinate efforts.

I was therefore heartened to see the report being launched here today by the UN Environment Programme’s inquiry. The report recognises that “UK’s leadership in this area is clear”. And to further build on London’s status as a leading international hub for green finance it recommends that we establish a market development group here in the UK.

That is precisely what the City of London Corporation’s green finance initiative will be.

The City of London Corporation’s unique position means it is perfectly placed to act as the neutral arbiter between government and industry. And we have an excellent Chair of the Initiative in Sir Roger Gifford, a former Lord Mayor, to ensure it is a success.

These are exciting times for UK financial services, as well as for green finance.

I wish the Initiative the very best – and I know that we can work together, build on the existing momentum, and truly make 2016 the year of green finance.

Thank you all.