Conservative Party Human Rights Commission Launches inquiry into ‘Robust Pragmatism’ in foreign policy

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The Conservative Party Human Rights Commission has today released a Call for Evidence for a new inquiry into the implications of “robust pragmatism” for human rights and foreign policy.

The inquiry will be wide-ranging, but will include examining trade and human rights; the use, effectiveness and implementation of sanctions; arms sales; conflict prevention and resolution, the Responsibility to Protect justice and accountability for atrocity crimes and genocide prevention; displacement from conflict and persecution and policy for refugees and asylum seekers; women’s rights, freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, torture and other thematic human rights priorities; the United Kingdom’s role in multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and on the world stage; strengthening co-ordination among like-minded international allies; and how to ensure long-term consistency in foreign policy human rights approaches, including thematic prioritisation and the role of Prime Ministerial Special Envoys.

In his first major foreign policy speech, at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 28 November 2022, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised a foreign policy that would be “stronger in defending our values and the openness on which our prosperity depends,” that would involve “delivering a stronger economy at home, as the foundation of our strength abroad,” and that would mean “standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism”.[1]

This inquiry will focus specifically and exclusively on what this means for human rights, given our mandate, but it will take into consideration the intersection between human rights and business, trade, investment and wider geo-political and economic strategic interests, international legal and treaty responsibilities, justice mechanisms, displacement, migration and refugee protection, international development, conflict resolution, defence, security and other relevant policy areas.

Tim Loughton MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, said: “With the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the end of this year, this seems an appropriate time for the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission to hold an inquiry over the coming months into the meaning of the phrase “robust pragmatism” and what its implications are, or should be, for the defence and promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democracy and freedom as part of our foreign policy. We are keen to invite as many written submissions as possible, from human rights NGOs, civil society, dissidents, lawyers, human rights defenders, journalists, former diplomats, academics, think-tanks, businesses and other experts.”

[1] The full text of the speech can be found here:


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