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An ambassador for human rights won’t convince the world that Britain cares

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The foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has created a new role of ambassador for human rights, which, according to a Foreign Office statement, “demonstrates the UK’s commitment to defending human rights globally”. Plainly it does nothing of the sort. What it demonstrates is the government’s desperation to repair the reputational damage incurred as its support for the worst human rights abusers of the Middle East comes under increasing scrutiny.

Consider a few dramatic episodes in the past year, from Israel’s massacring of unarmed civilians in Gaza, to the murder and dismemberment of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to the carnage caused by the Saudi-UAE assault on Yemen. In each case, Hunt has performed his now familiar impersonation of an innocent bystander, expressing his “concern” while arms sales and diplomatic support to the culprits continue uninterrupted. In Yemen, substantial British and American assistance has been indispensable in sustaining a Saudi-UAE war effort that is the primary cause of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, with an estimated 85,000 children under five dead from starvation or preventable disease, and thousands more killed in indiscriminate bombing.

To say that Britain lacks the credibility to promote human rights to others would be to state the case very........

© The Guardian