The Law Society has welcomed foreign secretary William Hague’s decision to create an advisory body of independent human rights experts that will not be influenced by other policy considerations.

Hague’s group will draw on the advice of key NGOs, independent experts and others. The aim is to ensure he has the best possible information about the human rights situation in different countries, and can benefit from outside advice on the conduct of UK policy. The group will meet regularly and have direct access to ministers.

Law Society president Linda Lee said: ‘The Society welcomes the foreign secretary's announcement and his commitment to ensuring that human rights looms large in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's overall plans. The establishment of an independent advisory body demonstrates the government's commitment to human rights and a desire to have a clear, accurate view of the issue on a global scale. Creating an independent advisory body to monitor the human rights landscape overseas is a positive step.

‘The Law Society remains committed to playing a leading role in tackling human rights abuses around the world. The Society has for some time carried out ongoing assessments and interventions in human rights abuses overseas, with many of our members heavily involved in international human rights cases. Last year we intervened after an attack by Iraqi forces on Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp holding thousands of Iranians, which left 13 residents dead and more than 400 injured.

‘The Law Society looks forward to continuing to work with the new government around human rights protection, monitoring and advice.’

The Law Society will this week host the annual Human Rights Symposium, in conjunction with the University of Essex, to highlight the importance of commerce in upholding human rights values.

  • Symposium on Business and Human Rights, 17-18 September 2010.