Today, the Daily Mail has reported that the UK gives £2 billion to 17 countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) list of 30 Human Rights Priority Countries.
The 30 FCO Human Rights Priority Countries, as listed in the FCO Annual Human Rights Report, are countries where the FCO has a strong interest in the human rights situation, and where it judges the UK can make a real difference. It is therefore completely incorrect to say these countries are the “worst human rights offenders”.
The piece also claims that a recent National Audit Office report said that “aid cash was being dispatched overseas in a last-minute frenzy each year”. This is a misrepresentation of the NAO report, which did not support this statement. The NAO report gave a positive assessment of DFID, including its view that the department has improved its management of ODA, and is using its ODA budget more smoothly throughout the year.
Why does DFID work in these 17 countries?
DFID has committed to spending at least 50% of its budget in fragile states, to build stability in those countries, which is both in our national interest and critical to reducing poverty and meeting humanitarian needs.
A UK Government spokesperson said:
The UK speaks candidly and frankly to all countries in which we work, and firmly holds governments to account on issues of human rights, freedom of expression and governance. We will not hesitate to use UN resolutions and sanctions to focus international attention and action on any country where we have concerns over human rights.
The UK is saving and changing the lives of people in the world’s most fragile countries, helping them to live safer, more stable and prosperous lives.
What else is DFID doing on human rights?
Throughout our programmes we work to tackle a broad spectrum of human rights issues and reduce abuses, including in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, and the rights of women and girls.
We are injecting new urgency and energy in tackling some vital human rights issues that have been neglected for too long, including modern slavery and child exploitation, whilst also boosting global efforts on family planning and nutrition.
We work closely with the FCO to raise concerns with governments at the appropriate level, including in the fragile and conflict affected countries assessed as priority in the FCO Annual Human Rights Report.
UK aid is spent where it is most needed and is subject to rigorous internal and external checks and scrutiny at all stages to ensure it helps those who need it and delivers value for money.