4 June 2020

 

The Baroness Anelay

Chair, International Relations and Defence Committee House of Lords

London SW1A 0AA

 

Dear Baroness Anelay,

 

I was glad to be able to give evidence as part of the committee’s inquiry, The UK and Sub-Saharan Africa, and pleased that technology enabled the committee’s scrutiny to continue remotely. During the session I agreed to write on a number of points to provide more detail, please see below. Some points will require follow-up in due course after relevant meetings have taken place.

 

Q uestion 120: the African Union (AU)

 

I still hope a virtual AU-UK High-Level Dialogue can be held in June. I will be happy to write to the Committee with the outcomes of the Dialogue once it has taken place.

 

Q uestion 123: remittances

 

In response to Lord Mendelsohn’s question I said I would come back with more detail on what the UK is doing on remittances. Remittances provide a vital lifeline to hundreds of millions of recipients around the world, and yet World Bank projections are that flows to low - and middle-income countries will decline by around 20% – or US$110bn – in 2020 as a result of Covid-19.

 

In order to address this, on Friday 22 May, the UK Government – working with the Swiss Government, and with the support of the World Bank and other partners – launched a global Call to Action on remittances. This Call to Action calls on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to take action to keep remittances flowing during the crisis. A number of countries joined the Call to Action on launch – including several which receive significant remittances flows from the UK, including Nigeria and Pakistan – and we expect more to join in the coming weeks.


Existing UK aid support is helping 65 million people in the poorest countries access digital financial services so they can receive funds via their mobile phones or online, and is helping to give two million more people access to digital remittance services so they can send and receive money from home.

 

Q uestion 130: DRC

 

Lord Alton asked about child labour in DRC’s cobalt mines. With DRC home to about 68% of the world’s supply of cobalt, and with the global ‘clean energy revolution’ increasing cobalt demand (cobalt is essential for rechargeable batteries), the UK remains committed to the urgency of addressing child, forced and bonded labour in cobalt supply chains. We regularly raise our concerns about child labour in DRC’s mining sector with the DRC government and through multilateral fora such as the Human Rights Council. For example, at the DRC’s Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in 2019, the UK recommended that DRC ratify and implement the 2014 ILO Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention 1930, (PO29).

 

As an active member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we also encourage states and those working in the industry to implement the OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High Risk Areas.

 

In Kinshasa, the British Embassy is a committed member of the Voluntary Principles Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative focussed on improving human rights adherence in the extractives sectors. As such we continue to press the DRC government and local actors to adhere to the initiative’s principles.

The UK has also supported efforts to combat child labour in DRC through programmatic funding. We have provided funding to the “Effective Approaches to Ending the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Fragile Contexts”, a multi-stakeholder consortium which develops innovative approaches to ending child labour in DRC.

 

In addition, in February 2020, the UK hosted a multi-stakeholder workshop on confronting modern slavery in mineral supply chains as part of our ongoing work with the NGO Pact UK. This work will continue to be key to developing local solutions in DRC to ensure that cobalt supply chains are free from child and forced labour.

 

Q uestion 130: Leah Sharibu

 

Lord Alton asked about UK Government support for strengthening human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Africa. In response, I referred to individual cases and offered to write to you with some further detail, including on the case of Leah Sharibu. The Government is committed to upholding human rights for all. We condemn the appalling abduction and continued captivity of Leah Sharibu and other


Christian and Muslim school children by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). In response to the abduction of Leah and other schoolgirls from Dapchi, Borno State, in 2018, we offered assistance and expertise to help the Nigerian Government in their efforts to recover the missing girls.

 

The Prime Minister discussed UK support for fighting terrorism in Nigeria with President Buhari at the UK Africa Investment Summit in January. In February 2020, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP, met Leah’s mother to express the UK’s continued commitment to supporting the Government of Nigeria to secure the release of Leah and all abductees. In March, I reiterated the UK Government’s condemnation of all attacks by terrorist groups in North East Nigeria to Parliament. We will continue to engage with the Government of Nigeria to support urgent action to secure the release of all those abducted by insurgent groups in Nigeria.

 

Q uestion 132: impact of the UK leaving the EU on trade with Africa

 

In response to Lord Grocott’s question I agreed to provide more detail on the impact on Africa of the UK’s Global Tariff (UKGT) regime when it replaces the EU’s Common External Tariff on 1 January 2021. The UK Government recognises the importance of trade for developing countries, which is why tariffs on many sensitive products have been retained to protect preferential access of developing countries, including those in Africa, into the UK market. I shall be happy to write to the Committee with more detail in due course.

 

Q uestion 134: Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships

 

Lord Hannay asked about English language testing for Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships. Both the Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships programmes have policies in place to ensure maximum flexibility and opportunity for scholarship awardees from countries where English language testing facilities are limited or unavailable. For Chevening, the FCO will pay the travel costs for candidates to visit a neighbouring country if there are no test centres at home, or alternatively will arrange for an invigilator to deliver tests in country. The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission does not require completion of an in- country English language test.

 

In light of Covid-19, both programmes have reviewed policies on English language testing to ensure the health and safety of students is protected and that students who cannot travel to complete tests are not disadvantaged. The Chevening English language requirement has been removed for 2020/2021 applicants, although successful candidates will still need to meet the requirements of their chosen university. This aligns Chevening with the existing policy for Commonwealth Scholarships.


Q uestions 119 & 135: the Africa strategy and the Integrated Review

 

During the session, Lord Purvis and Baroness Smith asked whether there is a published document that sets out Her Majesty’s Government’s strategic approach to Africa that can be shared with the committee. Later this year, following our analysis of the impacts of Covid-19 in Africa, we will be updating the strategic approach and will publish the updated information online.

Meanwhile the committee may wish to review existing information that is publicly available. In response to an inquiry launched by the Foreign Affairs Committee in 2019 on UK’s strategic engagement in Africa, HMG produced a memorandum, explaining the rationale for key focus areas, activity and early progress. This memorandum is available on parliament.uk:

h ttp://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/ f oreign-affairs-committee/beyond-aid-the-uks-strategic-engagement-in-

a frica/written/105575.html. In addition, more recent examples of UK’s partnerships with Africa can be found on our dedicated Gov.UK page:

h ttps://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/uks-partnerships-with-africa.

 

The strategic approach to Africa puts HMG in a strong position to provide evidence to inform the Integrated Review, which we will do once the Integrated Review resumes.

 

Q uestions 128 & 137: Women, Peace and Security

 

Following the evidence session, Baroness Helic and I had a discussion about her questions on women, peace and security and I undertook to write to her with further information. I have annexed my letter to Baroness Helic below in case its contents are of interest to the Committee in its inquiry.

 

As promised during the session I would be happy to provide answers to any further supplementary questions which committee members may not have had a chance to ask. Please do let me know if any such questions arise. I look forward to reading your report.

 


Yours sincerely,

James Duddridge MP Minister for Africa


             

 

4 June 2020

 

The Baroness Helic House of Lords Westminister SW1A 0AA

 

 

Dear Baroness Helic,

 

I was glad to be able to give evidence to the International Relations and Defence Committee on 20 May and to discuss your questions with you further after the session. I am providing written follow up to the Committee separately, but I also wanted to write to you to expand on my answers to your important questions on Women Peace and Security (WPS), and in particular women in peacekeeping. I will annex this letter to my letter to the Chair.

 

Women’s participation in peacekeeping is one important component of WPS. It is essential in building inclusive and sustainable peace and that is why the UK is committed to ensuring that women make up at least 15% of UK personnel on UN peacekeeping missions by 2028. The UK is proud to support Canada’s Elsie Initiative to promote uniformed women in peacekeeping operations and tackle the barriers that face them. We provided £1 million of funding in FY 2019/20. We know that training is crucial for mainstreaming gender perspectives, which is why the UK trains both UK peacekeepers, and those from other countries, on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and conflict-related sexual violence.

 

On women peacekeepers and broader WPS issues, I wanted to provide some additional examples of work from key countries in Sub Saharan Africa. Further details of our WPS work can be found at h ttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-national-action-plan-on-

w omen-peace-and-security-2018-to-2022 and

h ttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-national-action-plan-nap-on-women-peace- a nd-security-wps-2018-to-2022-report-to-parliament-december-2018.

 

In Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), one of our three military secondees to the peacekeeping mission is a female major leading gender issues, who has had real successes with female engagement teams. Also in DRC, we are funding Nobel Peace Laureates Dr Mukwege and Nadia Murad’s Global Survivors Fund for survivors of sexual violence and providing legal support to secure greater accountability for crimes of sexual violence.


In Somalia, we support training on countering conflict-related sexual violence for both Africa Union Mission troops in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army. It was fantastic to see Somaliland’s first armed female unit, trained by the UK, becoming a social media sensation during national day celebrations in May 2019.

 

The UK completed a successful four-year troop deployment to UNMISS, South Sudan, earlier this year where gender issues are high on the priority list, including enhancing interest and awareness on the 35% quota for women’s participation in all Government institutions and the role of women in security sector reform. As part of their deployment UK peacekeepers have delivered self-defence training for women in Bentiu and Malakal. They have also trained women human rights defenders in self-defence, many of whom face threats.

 

In Nigeria, we continue to support the institutionalisation of WPS across Nigerian military operations through a British Human Security Adviser. The Nigerian Defence and Army Headquarters have established gender posts and the UK continues to encourage the Navy and Air Force to replicate this success. We are also exploring options to support the Nigerian Army to develop a Sexual Exploitation and Abuse policy.

 

The UK provided funding and technical support to help Nigeria develop their National Action Plan and Women Peace and Security Networks and to provide oversight and follow up of these. We have a £1.8m DFID Women in Politics (WiP) programme. This has helped increased female candidates in WiP implementing states from 300 in 2015 to 709 in 2019.

We also have an ongoing study which will explore how the UK Government’s contribution to the Women Peace and Security agenda in Nigeria could be strengthened.

 

I will continue to work closely with Minister Cleverly as overall thematic lead to promote WPS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Yours sincerely,


 

James Duddridge MP Minister for Africa