Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on International Criminal Justice

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 17 July 2019.

Today we mark the Day of International Criminal Justice, which provides an opportunity to update Parliament on the UK’s support for the principles and institutions of international justice in the previous calendar year.

Support for international criminal justice and international humanitarian law is a fundamental element of the UK’s foreign policy. The UK believes that justice and accountability for the most serious international crimes is crucial to building lasting peace and security.

The UK Government believe that the International Criminal Court has an important role in pursuing accountability, but only when national authorities are either unable or unwilling to do so. The UK has long ​provided political, financial, and practical support to the ICC. We are one of the largest financial contributors to the Court, contributing £9.7 million in 2018. An example of the UK’s practical support was the sentence enforcement by the Scottish Prison Service of Mr Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who was convicted of destroying cultural heritage sites in Timbuktu.

In 2018, the ICC considered situations from across Africa, the middle east, Europe, south-east Asia and South America, with 11 situations subject to formal investigations, and proceedings continuing in three trials: the Ongwen case (Uganda), the Ntaganda case (Democratic Republic of the Congo), and the Gbagbo and Blé Goude case (Ivory Coast). Al Hassan (Mali), and Yekatom (Central African Republic) were surrendered to the ICC.

The ICC’s trust fund for victims plans to launch an assistance programme in the Central African Republic, to provide physical and physiological rehabilitation, alongside material support for victims and their families. The UK contributed funds to the TFV for reparations to victims in Mali.

While the UK continues to support the role of the ICC, reform is required for the ICC to fulfil its mandate as intended under the Rome statute. The UK will work with other states parties, the Court, and civil society, to achieve this goal.

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) continued its mandate to fulfil the residual functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The IRMCT delivered an appeals judgment in the case of Radovan Karadžić, the former Bosnian Serb politician convicted in 2016 of genocide in Srebrenica. Karadžić’s sentence, increased from 40 years to life, sends a clear message that those who commit atrocities will be held to account. The IRMCT continued to hear the retrial in the case of Stanišić and Simatović and issued a decision in the Šešelj contempt case.

The UK supported the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone through a total contribution of over £500,000. The UK has also been at the forefront of international efforts to gather and analyse evidence of atrocities committed in the middle east. Since 2016, we have committed £950,000 to the UN International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (HIM) to support the preparation of legal cases for serious crimes committed in the Syrian conflict. The UK also led efforts to adopt a UN Security Council resolution establishing an investigative team to collect, preserve and store evidence of Daesh atrocities in Iraq, and contributed £1 million towards its operation. The first mass grave exhumation was in March 2019 in the Yezidi village of Sinjar.

In reaction to the Rohingya crisis in Burma, the UK worked closely with the EU and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to secure a UN Human Rights Council resolution to establish a mechanism to collect and preserve evidence of human rights violations to support future prosecutions.

We will continue to update Parliament on our support to international criminal justice through our annual human rights report.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on Iran

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 20 July 2019.

I had a fairly long conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, this afternoon. And it’s clear from talking to him and also statements made by Iran that they see this as a tit-for-tat situation, following Grace1 being detained in Gibraltar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace1 was detained legally in Gibraltarian waters because it was carrying oil against EU sanctions, to Syria, and that’s why Gibraltarian authorities acted totally with respect to due process and totally within the law.

The Stena Impero was seized in Omani waters in clear contravention of international law. It was then forced to sail into Iran. This is totally and utterly unacceptable.

It raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping and indeed international shipping in the Straits of Hormuz. And so, we spent a long time this afternoon in COBR discussing how we can guarantee the security of British and international shipping. A statement will be made to Parliament on Monday to update the House of Commons and the country on the measures that we are going to take, the further measures. But already this weekend we have raised the threat level to level three – that was a decision made by the Transport Secretary. But we will take further measures and announce those measures going forward on Monday.

Our priority continues to be to find a way to de-escalate the situation. That’s why I reached out to the Iranian Foreign Minister, that’s why due process in Gibraltar continues. But, we need to see due process happening in Iran as well. We need to see the illegal seizing of a British-flagged vessel reversed, we need that ship released, and we continue to be very concerned about the safety and welfare of the 23 crew members.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on 22nd Anniversary of Hong Kong Handover

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 30 June 2019.

Recent protests in Hong Kong make it even more important on the anniversary of the handover to reiterate that the UK Government’s commitment to the Sino-British Joint Declaration is unwavering. It is a legally-binding treaty and remains as valid today as it did when it was signed and ratified over thirty years ago.

It is imperative that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, and the rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong people, are fully respected in line with the Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law. We have made our position on this clear to the Chinese Government, both publicly and in private, and will continue to do so.

Hong Kong remains one of the most thriving, exciting, dynamic cities in the world. It retains its distinctive identity, both within China and internationally. We remain committed to strengthening our rich and wide-ranging relationship with Hong Kong. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong students study in the UK every year. Hundreds of thousands of British citizens are resident in Hong Kong, as well as a significant number of British National (Overseas) Passport holders. We will continue to work together as partners in support of global free trade, and will continue to develop our bilateral trade links with Hong Kong.

We will continue to closely monitor events in Hong Kong. We strongly believe that upholding ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is the best way to ensure Hong Kong continues to play a vital role for China, and to continue its role and reputation as a global financial and trading centre for the rest of the world.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on 30th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Below is the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 4 June 2019.

Today we mark 30 years since the tragic events of 4 June 1989, remembering those who lost their lives protesting peacefully in and around Tiananmen Square.

Over the past 30 years, China has ratified a number of UN instruments relating to human rights. However, people in China are still unable to exercise their right to protest peacefully in China.

We continue to urge the Chinese Government to respect citizens’ freedom of association, assembly, expression and other fundamental rights and freedoms, as enshrined in China’s constitution and in international law.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on Montenegro

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 9 May 2019.

The failed coup attempt against Montenegro in 2016 was one of the most outrageous examples of Russia’s attempts to undermine European democracy. The GRU’s brazen attempt to interfere with Montenegro’s national elections and undermine Montenegro’s application to join NATO is yet another example of destabilising and aggressive Russian behaviour over the last decade.

The guilty verdicts announced today against the 2 Russian intelligence officers responsible for plotting this coup were the conclusion of Montenegrin legal proceedings of unprecedented transparency. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, Russia’s claims that the 2 men were researching an article about the Russian military in the region during the First World War were proven to be absurd.

Russia is a great country and central to European civilisation. Moscow must desist from any attacks that undermine the territorial integrity and democratic processes of its neighbours or other sovereign states. The UK calls on Russia to choose a different path – to uphold the security of Europe, respect the rules based international system that keeps our societies safe, and to work together with us to fulfil our common responsibilities as permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Statement on Sri Lanka

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 23 April 2019.

Today, the flags in Downing Street and on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are flying at half-mast following the horrific Easter day terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on the attack and the UK Government’s response.

On Sunday, multiple terrorist suicide bombings were conducted across Sri Lanka. Six explosions occurred simultaneously—three in churches conducting Easter day services in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, and three more in hotels in Colombo popular with foreign visitors. Information is still coming in, but we know that over 300 people have been killed, and we know that at least eight of those, sadly, are British nationals. They include mother Anita Nicholson with her 14-year-old son Alex and 11-year-old daughter Annabel, teenage brother and sister Amelie and Daniel Linsey, and retired firefighter Bill Harrop with his wife, retired GP Sally Bradley. The whole House will want to pass on our deepest sympathies and condolences, as we digest a truly heartbreaking situation.

I spoke to James Dauris, the British high commissioner in Colombo, earlier this afternoon, and I want to put on record my thanks to him, his team and all the employees of the British Council for their dedication in extremely testing circumstances. One locally employed British Council employee is in hospital with his wife, both with serious injuries, and our thoughts are also with them and their family. Our travel advice has been updated and remains the best source of information for any British nationals or family members who have concerns about the situation.

Yesterday, I spoke to my counterpart, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, to express my thanks for the work of the emergency services in Sri Lanka, as well as to pass on our condolences to all the bereaved families. I also discussed what further support the UK might be able to offer. Her Majesty the Queen, the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family have sent messages of condolence to the President and people of Sri Lanka, and the Prime Minister is expected to speak with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Wickremesinghe later today.

These attacks were a primitive and vile attempt to sow division between people of different faiths. Religious tensions have caused some of the bloodiest battles in human history, and it is sombre and sobering that even in the 21st century attempts continue to set believers of different religions against each other. Our response must be to deny the perpetrators the satisfaction of dividing us by being united in our condemnation of the attacks and united in our support for religious tolerance— ​surely one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Just as after the equally horrific attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, we must respond by bringing people together; that is the exact opposite of what the perpetrators intended.

It has to be said that the sheer brutality of the attacks was stark. One pair of attackers, after detonating their first explosives in a hotel, waited for people to try to escape before detonating a second device. The device destroyed by security services at Colombo airport was most likely designed to target fleeing civilians. The attack was complex, tightly co-ordinated and designed to cause maximum chaos, damage and heartbreak.

The UK will never stand by in the face of such evil. Today, we stand in solidarity with the Government and people of Sri Lanka, who have made enormous strides towards stability and peace following the conclusion of the civil war almost exactly 10 years ago. The Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command has dispatched a team of specialists to Sri Lanka, including family liaison officers, to support the families of British victims and assist with the repatriation of deceased British nationals. A recent programme run by Interpol involved the training of 30 Sri Lankan forensic specialists and police officers by UK experts in disaster victim identification. We hope that that will be of additional support.

The Government of Sri Lanka have declared a state of emergency as the investigation continues. More than 20 arrests have been made, and there are likely to be more people who were involved in the planning of this attack still at large. A large amount of improvised explosive device material has been recovered, including 87 low-explosive detonators that were recovered from a bus station. There are no verified claims of responsibility as yet. So far, 40 arrests have been made, and counter-terrorism activity continues. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister and President have both said publicly that there will be a thorough investigation into the incident and whether information was handled correctly, and it is important to let that process follow its course.

To attack Christian worshippers at Easter, which is a celebration of peace and the holiest day in the Christian calendar, betrays in the attackers an absence of the most basic values of humanity. Just two days ago, the Prime Minister and I both noted in our Easter messages the dangers facing Christians around the world, 300 of whom are killed every month. In response to such acts, we must redouble our efforts to protect the freedom of religious minorities to practise their faiths, wherever they are. For that reason, the FCO has asked the Bishop of Truro to do an independent report into what more can be done to protect persecuted Christians around the world.

The British Government will continue to give their wholehearted support to the people of Sri Lanka, and I am sure the House will join me in once again expressing our deepest sadness and sympathy to everyone who has been affected by these monstrous attacks. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Speech on Cybersecurity

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 7 March 2019.

I’m delighted to be here at Glasgow University.

For centuries, this City and its University have been at the forefront of science, technology and medicine. The modern disciplines of physics and economics – and the Industrial Revolution itself – find their origins here. There could be no better setting for a speech about the challenges presented by the advance of new technology.

Just occasionally, even a Conservative Foreign Secretary should break with tradition, so I propose to begin by quoting the late Tony Benn.

In his book “Arguments for Democracy”, Benn wrote: “If one meets a powerful person ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you’?”

And the final question is by far the most salient.

“If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you,” Benn wrote, “you do not live in a democratic system”. And he was right, of course.

The freedom to pass judgement on your leaders and change your government peacefully, through the ballot box, is the defining quality of a liberal democracy.

Millions of people have made immense sacrifices for the sake of that essential liberty.

Exactly 3 decades ago, the year 1989 saw the fastest advance of liberal democracy in history.

On 4th June, a free election in Poland triggered the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Within a decade, another 16 countries had broken the chains of dictatorship.

But what the Poles, Czechs and many others did not have to contend with in 1989 was the reality of cyber technology, a hugely powerful force for openness and transparency, but one that also possesses a dark side, capable of being used to subvert the very democratic processes we hold dear.

Threats to democracy in cyber age

So far, we’ve seen no successful interference in UK elections or referenda.

Yet in the cyber age, an authoritarian regime armed with nothing more ambitious than a laptop computer could try to manipulate our democracy.

In his book, The Perfect Weapon, David Sanger wrote that North Korea’s leadership went from “viewing the internet as a threat to viewing it as a brilliant invention for levelling the playing field with the West”.

Events have demonstrated how our adversaries regard free elections – and the very openness of a democratic system – as key vulnerabilities to be exploited.

In 2014, it was widely reported that Russian hackers calling themselves “CyberBerkut” tried to undermine the presidential election in Ukraine, including by tampering with the vote-counting system and delaying the final result. Last October, the British Government publicly confirmed that this group acts for Russia’s GRU military intelligence service.

In 2016, the GRU targeted the United States, penetrating the email accounts of the national committee of the party that was then in control of the White House, before leaking information with the obvious aim of damaging its presidential candidate.

For every example of publicly attributed interference, there have been others that never saw the light of day. Whilst we cannot know for sure the effect of these operations, the material fact is that the Russian state has tried to subvert democracy.

And the implications are profoundly disturbing.

At a minimum, trust in the democratic process is seriously undermined.

But in a worst case scenario, elections could become tainted exercises, robbing the Governments they produce of legitimacy.

And the greatest risk of all is that a hostile state might succeed in casting a permanent cloud of doubt over an entire democratic system.

The uncomfortable truth of the cyber age is that authoritarian regimes possess ways of undermining free societies that yesterday’s dictators would have envied.

During both World Wars – and despite the risk of invasion – British democratic institutions remained strong enough to remove Prime Ministers and change governments, in accordance with Tony Benn’s rule. Through every year of conflict, Parliament continued to hold by-elections without fear of outside interference.

Yet in the cyber era, hostile states wouldn’t need to fight wars or expend blood and treasure to subvert democracy. At long range and minimal cost – perhaps without even being discovered – their cyber experts could inject propaganda into an election campaign and target swing voters, in order to favour one party over another. In a country with an electronic voting system, they could potentially manipulate the result itself. Democracy can never be taken for granted but in the cyber age, the message is clear: Britain and other democracies need a strategic approach to safeguard the free institutions at the heart of our way of life.

Cyber deterrence

The UK is one of the leading cyber powers in the world and GCHQ possesses extraordinary expertise, benefiting every part of the country.

One of the reasons for that expertise is the great knowledge-base of our universities and I was very proud to visit the School of Computing Science here at Glasgow University.

Along with our allies, we have improved our collective ability to detect those responsible for malign actions in cyberspace, including election interference.

The Government has a £1.9 billion programme to protect British infrastructure and systems from cyber threats. The National Cyber Security Centre is doing excellent work to help safeguard British companies and institutions.

But we must go further.

Simply making it harder for our adversaries to inflict damage in cyberspace won’t be sufficient on its own. Nor will verbal condemnation or written agreements create the taboo we should seek for the manipulation of democratic elections.

In 2013 and again in 2015, a UN Group of Governmental Experts affirmed that international law and the UN Charter applied to cyberspace, including the prohibition on interference in domestic affairs, which must cover elections.

Ironically, Russia was among the countries in the UN General Assembly that endorsed these reports. But treating the symptoms is never as effective as dealing with the cause.

We need a strategy that deters hostile states from intervening in free elections in the first place, a new doctrine of deterrence against cyber attacks in our democracies.

The very word “deterrence” summons images of nuclear-tipped confrontation between superpowers during the Cold War.

Henry Kissinger once wrote that a “new order of experience requires new ways of thinking” – and that is certainly true of the cyber age.

Today’s tools are different from those of the Cold War and our responses must be different too.

The British Government’s starting point is that we must impose a price on malicious cyber activity, including interference in elections, sufficient to deter authoritarian states. We won’t always react identically to every individual incident and a cyber attack will not necessarily encounter a cyber response.

Instead, our approach to cyber deterrence has 4 principles.

First, we will always seek to discover which state or other actor was behind any malign cyber activity, overcoming any efforts to conceal their tracks.

Secondly, we will respond. That could include naming and shaming the perpetrator in public, in concert with our allies, exposing not only who carried out the action but, so far as possible, how it was done, thereby helping the cyber security industry to develop protective measures.

Thirdly, we will aim to prosecute those who conduct cyber crime, demonstrating they are not above the law.

And finally, with our allies we will consider further steps, consistent with international law, to make sure we don’t just manage current cyber attacks but deter future ones as well.

Naming and shaming

Now one of the most powerful tools is the sunlight of transparency.

The British Government has already exposed a series of incidents, including the Russian cyber attacks in Ukraine, North Korea’s infection of thousands of computers with ransomware – including the computers of 48 NHS Trusts – the targeting of 300 universities by an Iranian group, and the theft of commercial data by hackers acting for China’s Ministry of State Security.

In every case, Britain made these attributions in the company of our allies. Fourteen countries joined us to expose China’s actions; 19 publicised the operations of the GRU.

But a doctrine of deterrence will require us to go further.

The perpetrators must believe they run a credible risk of additional counter-measures – economic and diplomatic – over and above public embarrassment.

The European Union has agreed that economic sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, could be imposed to punish malicious action in cyber space.

Last October, Britain helped secure a decision by EU leaders to create a new sanctions regime for this express purpose. After Brexit, the UK will be able to impose cyber-related sanctions on a national basis.

As for diplomatic penalties, we won’t hesitate to highlight any breaches of international agreements, such as when the operation by China’s Ministry of State Security broke a bilateral agreement with the UK and a commitment from every G20 country not to conduct or support malicious activity of this kind.

Finally, Britain now has a National Offensive Cyber Programme, delivered by a Joint Mission between GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence.

The UK has already conducted offensive cyber operations against Daesh terrorists in the Middle East, designed to hinder their ability to carry out attacks, protect British and coalition forces, and cripple Daesh’s online propaganda.

The coalition to deter malign behaviour in cyber space and defend democracy needs to be as broad as possible. So the Foreign Office has 50 ‘Cyber Attaches’ in British embassies around the world, charged with working alongside their host governments to raise the cost of malicious cyber activity and safeguard a free and secure internet.

We will increase their number by a further eight as we take forward the expansion of Britain’s diplomatic network. And today, we are helping over 100 countries to strengthen their cyber security, partially funded through our overseas aid budget. Among them are Commonwealth members, from Botswana to Jamaica, building on the Cyber Declaration agreed in London last year.


Gradually, and none too soon, the democracies of the world are joining forces to improve our response to the cyber manipulation of elections.

But after multiple recent attempts, we can no longer afford to wait until an authoritarian regime demonstrably succeeds in changing the outcome of an election and weakening trust in the integrity of democracy itself.

The risk is that after just a few cases, a pall of suspicion would descend over a democratic process – and once that happens, the damage would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to repair.

So now is the time for Britain and our allies to act together to protect democracy in the cyber age by deterring those who would do us harm.

Let me close with the words of a late Rector of this University, William Gladstone, who campaigned to extend the franchise with this phrase: “You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side.”

We too cannot resist the future represented by the cyber age.

But we must safeguard the ability of the British people, secured by Gladstone and many others, to vote in a free and fair election safe from outside sabotage.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Speech in Berlin

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in Berlin, Germany on 20 February 2019.


I’m delighted to have this opportunity to speak here at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. There are moments in history that remind us that we are all part of something greater than ourselves.

As I landed at Tegel Airport this morning, I thought of one such moment.

Seventy years ago, the people of this city were engaged in a daily struggle to keep West Berlin alive through Stalin’s blockade.

The skies above Berlin were filled with British and American aircraft laden with fuel, food and medicine, landing or taking off every 45 seconds, day and night.

For 11 months, pilots who had previously dropped bombs on Berlin mounted the greatest humanitarian airlift in history, delivering 2.3 million tons of supplies.

At first, Berlin did not have enough runways to receive the inflow.

So the people of Berlin built Tegel Airport with their own hands, taking only 90 days to construct what was then the longest runway in Europe.

Our countries were just a few years away from a devastating war.

And yet we were united.

United by shared values.

And united in opposition to those who sought to destroy them.

The people of Berlin overcame their ordeal, transforming this city into what President Kennedy later called a “defended island of freedom”.

Then, thirty years ago this year, Berlin ceased to be an island when the Wall came down. As the crowds surged through Brandenburg Gate in 1989, Berlin and its people reminded us never to take liberty for granted.

Those events show that some values transcend individuals, nations or groups of nations.

And indeed transcend Brexit too – however absorbing or challenging that may seem.

Alliance of Values

For whatever treaties or organisations our two countries may join or leave, our friendship is based on something infinitely more important and durable.

Britain and Germany cherish the same freedoms, defend the same values, respect the same fundamental laws and face the same dangers.

We are bound together not simply by institutions, but by the beliefs that inspired the creation of those institutions: democracy, openness and equality before the law regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality.

Karl Popper, the Austrian-born philosopher, defined the distinctive quality of an open society in these words:

“We ought to be proud that we do not have one idea but many ideas, good ones and bad ones; that we do not have a single belief: not one religion but many, good ones and bad ones….It is not the unity of an idea but the diversity of our many ideas, of which the West may be proud: the pluralism of its ideas.”

More than anything else, Britain and Germany believe in pluralism as the best way of releasing the nobility of the human spirit.

There is nothing new about this.

We shared these ideals in 1972 before Britain joined the European Economic Community.

And we will continue to share them in 2019 when we leave the European Union.

Because as I said in my response to the wonderful letter written to The Times last month by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Prof. Dr Norbert Lammert and other distinguished Germans, Britain is not going anywhere.

We are not relocating our island to the far side of the world.

Our two countries may no longer be bound by the structures of the European Union, but we will remain part of a wider alliance, an alliance of values.

Nations united not solely by institutions but by beliefs: in freedom, the rule of law and human rights.

An alliance that doesn’t just believe in those ideals but is willing to defend them, as demonstrated by my predecessor, Ernest Bevin, when he helped to establish NATO.

Success of the rules-based system

He was part of the generation of humane and far-sighted leaders, including Konrad Adenauer, who built an assembly of rules and institutions – including the United Nations, the World Bank and what became the World Trade Organisation – to create an era defined not by bloodshed but by peace and prosperity. The goals of the world order that emerged after 1945 were summarised by the former Mayor of Berlin and Chancellor of Germany, Willy Brandt, who said:

“I re-emphasise my faith in the universal principles of general international law….They found binding expression in the principles of the United Nations Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-violence, the right of self-determination.”

By any objective measure, that international order has been remarkably successful.

Despite the bloodshed in Syria and elsewhere, the number of conflict-related deaths as a proportion of the global population fell by an astonishing 80 percent between 1984 and 2016.

Relative peace has allowed millions to raise themselves from destitution.

When I was born, half of humanity lived in absolute poverty; today, it is less than 10%.

Life expectancy has shot up and since 2000 alone 1.1 billion people have been connected to electricity for the first time.

The rules-based system is not some cynical construct designed solely to protect the interests of the West. Nor will the biggest losers be in the West if it is allowed to crumble.

So when people ask what will Britain’s role in the world be after Brexit, I say this:

We will put to work the remarkable array of connections across the globe that history has given the United Kingdom.

Whether through our European friends, our Atlantic allies or the Commonwealth family, we will seek to bind the democracies of the world together.

Only if we are joined together by an invisible chain or thread of shared values will we be strong enough to withstand the challenges we face.

And strong enough to uphold an international order that has served humanity so well.

Threats to rules-based system

Right now it would be an enormous mistake if Europe were to allow Brexit and other internal challenges to make us introspective.

Because when we look inwards, our adversaries sense an opportunity.

Russia has broken the prohibition on acquiring territory by force by redrawing a European frontier and annexing 10,000 square miles of Ukraine.

Having taken Crimea, Russia then deployed troops and tanks in eastern Ukraine, igniting a conflict that has claimed nearly 11,000 lives and driven 2.3 million people from their homes.

At the same time the global ban on the use of chemical weapons, dating back almost a century to 1925, has been violated time and again in Syria – and even on the soil of my own country.

Meanwhile the onward march of democracy that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall has come to a halt and started to go into reverse.

In the 2 decades after 1989, there were 29 new democracies. This century it has been different: last week Freedom House reported that 2018 was the 13th successive year of decline for political rights and civil liberties around the world.

We must never assume that the arc of history will automatically bend towards democracy and liberalism.

Wise decisions made by a generation of leaders in the last century shaped the world as we know it. The question is whether this generation of leaders will do the same?

Anglo-German co-operation

Hence the overriding importance of Britain and Germany working side-by-side.

There is much to celebrate.

Together we are preserving the Iran nuclear agreement, keeping Iran free of nuclear weapons and the world safer as a result;

together we are resisting the evil of chemical weapons, from Salisbury to Syria, ensuring the price is always too high for countries to use these terrible weapons;

together we are upholding the Paris Climate Change Treaty, ensuring future generations will not pay the price of our prosperity today;

together we are working for lasting peace in the Western Balkans; indeed on my first day as Foreign Secretary I met Chancellor Merkel at a summit in London to discuss that very issue. Chancellor Merkel approached me and said, “Congratulations, if that’s the right word”.

At the same time, our security services and police are cooperating silently and tirelessly to guard our citizens and our European friends from terrorism and organised crime.

Our diplomats are training side-by-side; only last week, 76 British and German diplomats were attending joint classes in the Foreign Office in London.

Our soldiers are serving together in Afghanistan, where yours are the second biggest contribution to the NATO mission.

Our soldiers are also protecting NATO’s Eastern borders, where UK troops comprise the single largest component of the “enhanced forward presence” in Poland and the Baltic states.

Some in Germany have seen our decision to leave the EU as a retreat: a retreat from the global stage and from common European security interests.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Britain remains the only European nation to meet the UN and NATO targets of spending 0.7 percent of national income on aid, 2 percent of GDP on defence and 20 percent of our defence budget on capital.

The Prime Minister has restated that Britain’s commitment to the defence of Europe is immovable and unconditional.

And I’m delighted that Germany has been elected to serve on the Security Council; later today, Heiko Maas and I will discuss how our missions in New York can best cooperate on areas of common interest, including Libya and Darfur.

The UK-EU partnership

So at a time when the global balance of wealth and power is changing with remarkable speed – perhaps faster than ever before – we must not allow Brexit to be all-consuming.

That means an orderly departure from the EU is of paramount importance.

Of course when you leave a club you cannot enjoy all its benefits.

And nor will we: after Brexit, the UK will no longer be part of the councils of the EU. We will no longer have a say or vote in European directives or laws.

But nor – if we are to stand together against common threats – can Britain ever be just another “third country”.

The future partnership that Britain seeks to build with the EU starts with the belief that our security is indivisible.

The Political Declaration sets out a vision of the closest relationship in foreign policy the EU has ever had with another country, something that Chancellor Merkel herself has emphasised.

It states that where and when our interests converge – as they often will – Britain and the EU will “combine efforts” to the “greatest effect, including in times of crisis”.

We must also maintain the closest economic partnership, consistent with the spirit of the British referendum and the integrity of the single market.

The flow of trade between Britain and the EU amounts to one of the biggest economic relationships in the world.

In 2017, total trade between the UK and the other 27 members of the EU came to £615 billion [Euros 695 billion].

This is a colossal figure, about 8% bigger than the EU’s trade with China and 12 percent higher than trade between China and the United States.

Millions of jobs on both sides of the Channel depend on this flow of commerce so everyone has an interest in ensuring that it continues to flourish.

There are those who say that strategic and security partnerships can continue unaffected by economic relationships. We must remember the lesson of history: trading relations have always been the first link between countries, and they act as the foundation of all other relations.

So none of us should have any doubt that failing to secure a ratified Withdrawal Agreement between Britain and the EU would be deeply damaging, politically as well as economically.

In the vital weeks ahead, standing back and hoping that Brexit solves itself will not be enough.

The stakes are just too high: we must all do what we can to ensure such a deal is reached.

Last Saturday, Chancellor Merkel delivered a powerful defence of what she called the “classic” world order.

She urged all countries to “put yourself in the other’s shoes” and “see whether we can get win-win solutions together”.

I would urge our European friends to approach this crucial stage of the Brexit negotiations in that spirit.

Because in the future, we do not want historians to puzzle over our actions and ask themselves how it was that Europe failed to achieve an amicable change in its relationship with Britain – a friend and ally in every possible sense – and thereby inflicted grave and avoidable damage to our continent at exactly the moment when the world order was under threat from other directions.

Now is the hour for the generous and far-sighted leadership of which Chancellor Merkel spoke.

If we are to secure the future of a world order that has allowed our countries to enjoy the peace and prosperity that eluded our ancestors – if we are to avoid, in Chancellor Merkel’s phrase,falling “apart into pieces of a puzzle” – then achieving a smooth and orderly Brexit is profoundly necessary.


It would not be right to end this speech without an apposite quote from Konrad Adenauer, a towering figure in the history of the Federal Republic and the CDU, in whose honour this Foundation is named. He once said:

“Wenn die anderen glauben, man ist am Ende, so muss man erst richtig anfangen.” (“when others think we’ve reached the end, that’s when we’ve got to really begin”).

The UK’s departure from the EU is the end of one phase of our relationship. But it’s the beginning of another, and we are determined to remain the best of friends.

So let me finish by returning to that letter written by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and other distinguished Germans to the Times.

The signatories were generous to Britain.

So let me say in response, Britain shares the same admiration and warmth for the people of Germany, for your moral courage, your tolerance and magnanimity, and for your towering achievement in building a nation that is, at once, a model democracy and the economic powerhouse of Europe.

When 2.1 million Berliners were blockaded and besieged 70 years ago, they could not be sure they would withstand the ordeal and eventually triumph.

They survived because of their courage and resilience, supported by the resolute action of friends who shared their ideals and were determined not to abandon this city.

Those friends did not come to Berlin’s support because of treaties or formal unions.

They acted because of something more powerful, though less tangible: the values that united them, just as values unite us today.

Those values remain constant whatever else changes. Let us remember that as we do our duty in the critical few weeks ahead.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Speech on Persecution of Christians

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 30 January 2019.

Archbishop, bishop, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome this morning to this very important occasion and very significant launch.

Last Sunday, many people here will have been going to church, as indeed was the case in the Philippines at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Southern Philippines. And in the middle of that service, a bomb exploded and 20 people were killed and the perpetrators then issued a hate-filled statement labelling the Cathedral as a ‘crusader temple’.

And this was a very vivid reminder of the terrible truth that freedom of worship is something that cannot only not be taken for granted, but is a growing concern all over the world.

And what happened in the Philippines has happened in Egypt. We know now from the excellent Open Doors report that a quarter of a billion Christians are suffering some sort of persecution all over the world, and we know that a number of the countries where this happens are countries that we don’t necessarily talk about.

Countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, North Korea, but also in some of the bigger countries.

We know that there are serious and growing issues in China. And also in countries where we might have hoped there wouldn’t be a serious issue, like India, we know that this is becoming a much bigger issue.

And as me and my team at the Foreign Office reflected on this, we wanted to ask ourselves a question as to whether the FCO, which has one of the best global networks of any diplomatic service – we basically after the Americans and the Chinese have the third biggest diplomatic network of any country alongside the French – and we wanted to ask ourselves a question as to whether we really are doing as much as we possibly could.

And we wanted to do this not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but because also freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies.

Where freedom of worship is hampered or prevented, then usually that’s a sign of lots of other things going wrong, and we wanted to make sure that the UK is doing everything to champion the values that we all believe in.

I am a Johnny-come-lately to this, because we have in the Foreign Office a fantastic minister, Lord Ahmad, who has been championing religious freedom since before I became Foreign Secretary, and himself comes from a Muslim minority faith – the Ahmadiyya community that have effectively been banished from Pakistan because it’s not safe for them to be in Pakistan, and have had to move away. And many of them are based in the UK, but actually all over the world, so this is someone who knows from his own life the dangers.

But very much on his advice, we particularly want to look at the issue of Christian persecution.

Because the evidence is that 80 per cent of all the people who are suffering religious persecution are Christian.

And we want to, if I can put it this way, banish any hesitation to look into this issue without fear or favour that may exist because of our imperial history, because of the concerns that some people might have in linking the activities of missionaries in the nineteenth century to misguided imperialism. And all those concerns may have led to a hesitation to really look at this issue properly, and we don’t want that to happen.

And in order to keep us on the straight and narrow I’ve asked the Bishop of Truro, Bishop Philip Mounstephen, to do an independent review, and to work with all of you, to work with the FCO, and to tell us how we should approach this and what more we can do.

And what I want to do is, what I’m hoping the outcome of this will be is, first of all in practical terms, I want to make absolutely sure when I am meeting a foreign minister, a prime minister or a president in another country, and there’s an issue concerning religious freedom, and in particular the rights of Christians, I want to make sure that it is absolutely on my list of things that I need to raise.

Sometimes you do these things publically, sometimes you do them privately, but we should always be doing them if they need to be done and I want to make sure that happens and I don’t think it does at the moment.

But secondly, I want to see what we can do to build an international coalition of countries that are concerned about this so that we can play, I think the role that Britain has played for many years, which is whilst recognising that we’re not a superpower, at the same time, not underestimating the power and influence that we have as a very well-connected country to bring together other countries that share our values and give a voice to people who don’t have a voice.

And I think the final point I want to make which everyone in this room will be well aware of, but I’m not sure necessarily that the public outside are: we are a wealthy country and we sometimes think that when it comes to the rights of Christians this is really about wealthy people.

It isn’t.

The people who are suffering are some of the poorest people on the planet and they happen to have the faith that I have, that many people here have, and they happen to be suffering very badly for it.

There is sometimes good news.

I think the news about Asia Bibi this week is extremely encouraging, but the truth is that unless we make a real effort and unless the world knows that we are making a real effort, those bits of good news will become the exception and not the rule. And that’s what we don’t want to allow to happen.

So thank you very much for your support.

I’m sure, I say this in advance as a bit of expectation-setting, I’m sure we won’t be able to do absolutely everything you want, Philip, but we are very, very serious about doing what we can and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of many people here and many people outside as we in the Foreign Office go on a journey and think really hard about what we could do better.

Thank you very much.

Jeremy Hunt – 2019 Speech at International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, on 23 January 2019.

Ambassador, distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, I’m incredibly honoured to be here today as we remember those 6 million.

Seventy-four years ago, almost to the day, Soviet soldiers advanced into Poland and liberated Auschwitz. There, amid heaps of corpses, they discovered about 7,000 men, women and children, emaciated, starving, stricken by disease. These broken human beings were among the handful of survivors of the 1.3 million people who had passed through the gates of Auschwitz.

One of them, of course, was Primo Levi, who was found by Russian soldiers lying incapacitated with scarlet fever, indelibly tattooed with an identity number that he would bear for the rest of his life: ‘174517’. In his classic, If This Is a Man, he struggled to describe the essence of the crime wrought by the Holocaust. He said:

Language lacks words to express this offence, the demolition of a man.

In a moment, with almost prophetic intuition, the reality was revealed to us: we had reached the bottom. It is not possible to sink lower than this; no human condition is more miserable than this, nor could it conceivably be so.

Nothing belongs to us any more: they have taken away our clothes, our shoes, even our hair. If we speak, they will not listen, and if they listen, they will not understand. They have even take away our name, and if we want to keep it, we will have to find in ourselves the strength to do so, to manage somehow so that behind the name, something of us – of us as we were – still remains.

Primo Levi and other remarkable people summoned enough strength to preserve their dignity in defiance of relentless efforts to extinguish the last embers of their humanity.

In 2006, I had the life-changing experience of visiting Auschwitz myself with Holocaust Education Trust. The trip was led by the inspirational Rabbi Barry Marcus, who many of you will know.

Before going into the concentration camp, we visited a museum to commemorate the Poles who had sheltered Jews. The penalty, of course, was death, not just for the individual, but for every member of that individual’s family. More than 5,000 Poles took that risk. Many others across Europe looked away. What would each of us do if history repeated itself?

I’ll never forget standing on that railway platform where so many human beings’ fate was decided by a simple instruction to turn left or right.

I’ll never forget Rabbi Marcus singing in Hebrew as we reflected on the horror of what was around us. Nor will I forget the remarkable Polish guard who never once referred to Jews being killed: she always used the word ‘murdered’.

And a question that troubled me as I tried to take all this in is, would I have looked away? Would I have done the right thing? With 3 young children that I have now whose lives are just beginning, what would I have done?

So today as Foreign Secretary, it is an incredible privilege to honour some of those who did not look away, and who worked for the Foreign Office, or our sister organisation, the Secret Intelligence Service.

One of them was Captain Frank Foley, whose bust we shall shortly be unveiling. Frank Foley fought in the trenches during World War One before being recruited by the British government and dispatched to our Consulate in Berlin. Ostensibly, he was in charge of passport control; in fact, he was an SIS officer – something that the government has taken the exceptional step of publicly confirming.

After Hitler came to power in 1933, Foley used his official position to issue visas to thousands of Jews trying to escape Germany. He applied the rules with what might be called sympathetic flexibility.

British visas could only be given to people with financial guarantees, a requirement that ruled out many Jewish applicants. So Foley invented a variety of ways to get around bureaucracy.

Richard Lachs, a Jewish company administrator, was one of many desperate people with no chance of providing any guarantees. Penniless and unemployed, he had been hounded out of his job in Cologne and forced to take his family into hiding after the Kristallnacht pogroms.

He sought asylum in the United States, only to be rejected because the quota was full. So he then applied for British visas for himself, his wife and their 2 children, with no guarantees – and little hope of success.

Richard Lachs’s son, Werner, remembered what happened. “It was a Sunday morning,” he said. “A friend was there, and the post produced a letter from the British Passport Control Office in Berlin, requesting that my parents should send their passports to receive their visas. We just jumped up and down for joy.”

The Lachs family did not know it, but Foley found a way of overlooking the regulations. He appears to have decided that since someone else called Lachs had previously been granted a visa, that person’s guarantee could be taken to cover Richard Lachs and his family as well. “I am 99% certain,” said Werner Lachs, “that but for Mr Foley, I and my family might have become another statistic of the Holocaust”.

Today, Werner Lachs is 92. He has nine grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and he lives in Prestwich.

A few months before the outbreak of war in 1939, Foley arranged visas for a 24-year-old Jew called Gunter Powitzer and his infant son, Walter. Yet, by the time the documents were ready, Powitzer had already been interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

So Foley went to the camp himself and demanded the prisoner’s release, explaining that since Powitzer now held a British visa and was entitled to British protection. Powitzer, who had recently been flogged, remembered how he was “bandaged, cleaned up and shaved” and presented to a “small man wearing glasses”.

“My name is Foley,” said the visitor. “I am from the British Consulate in Berlin.”

The following day, Powitzer was released from Sachsenhausen, reunited with his son and allowed to reach safety in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. Had Foley not acted, Powitzer would have stayed in the camp where 30,000 inmates would be murdered by 1945.

Nearly 70 years later, when a statue was raised to Foley in the Somerset town of his birth, a man called Asher Rubin wrote from Israel, “Frank Foley saved me and my father, Gunter Powitzer. Foley’s efforts are responsible for the lives of our family.”

I hope SIS will forgive me if I add that Foley made good use of what is euphemistically called ‘tradecraft’. He would direct Jews to reliable suppliers of fake passports. He would place them in touch with SIS contacts who knew exactly how to cross the Swiss frontier. And he kept up a steady barrage of requests to London for more visas and more permits for Jews to settle in Palestine.

Yet, as the Ambassador alluded to, the bleak truth is that not everyone in the British government of the day possessed the same moral clarity or the will to confront the realities of Hitlerism. The policy of appeasement, no matter how well intentioned, was futile and morally bankrupt.

We should reflect that it was not the state as a whole, but remarkable individuals like Frank Foley who did the right thing, made the correct moral choice, often in defiance of the rules.

So here I ask: what would each of us have done if we had been in his place?

Frank Foley died in 1958 having observed the code of his profession and kept silent about his service. Four decades passed before Michael Smith wrote his biography and he began to receive the posthumous recognition. In 1999, Yad Vashem decided to honour Foley as one of the Righteous Among Nations. One of the Jews he saved happens to be the father-in-law of my cabinet colleague, James Brokenshire. Others include the grandparents of an SIS officer who is serving today.

Thanks to Foley, many people were spared the ordeal that Primo Levi endured and chronicled. But even as we take pride in the memory of Frank Foley, we should never lose sight of the hard truth that when the crucial moment came and the moral test was posed, there were too few people like him.

So today, we draw inspiration from his example, and we hope that those inspired will thus never be the next people to look away in the face of atrocity.

Thank you.