The Catholic Union has said that Britain can and should be a force for good in the world in its response to the Government’s Integrated Review of security, defence, development, and foreign policy.
The report – entitled Global Britain in a Competitive Age – sets out the challenges likely to confront the UK over the next decade and how the Government plans to respond.
The Catholic Union called for a focus on promoting fundamental human rights at home and abroad in evidence to the review last year to avoid the concept of human rights being diluted.
The Catholic Union welcomed the focus on universal human rights in the report and the specific commitment to implement the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s report into Christian persecution, which found 250 million Christians around the world face persecution because of their faith.
But the Catholic Union has criticised the decision to press ahead with the cut to the international aid budget this year and questioned the proposed increased in nuclear warheads.
Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “A lot of questions are raised by this report, but we agree with the fundamental principle that Britain can and should be a force for good in the world.
“The focus on upholding universal human rights is something we very much welcome – we called for this in our evidence to the review. In an age where the concept of human rights risks being watered down, we’re pleased the review focuses on fundamental rights.
“The specific commitment to promote freedom of religion or belief is also welcome. We look forward to contributing to the international conference on freedom of religion or belief next year, which was announced in the report.
“While we are pleased that the commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on international development has been reaffirmed, this makes the cut to the foreign aid budget this year look even more unnecessary. The proposed savings from a temporary cut in spending to 0.5% are relatively small but will make a big difference to some of the world’s poorest people.
“The increase in our nuclear warhead stockpile is deeply concerning at a time when we and other nuclear weapon states should be doing everything possible to reduce nuclear weapons.”