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Labour affirms commitment to international law

Labour affirms commitment to international law


UK shadow foreign secretary David Lammy says Labour will reinstate ministers' duty to comply with international law and will help create an internation anti-corruption court.

Speaking on 10 July at the Bingham Centre, part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), Lammy said that, if elected in the next general election, Labour will "consistently challenge clear breaches of international law" and "put the UK at the forefront of international legal debates".

In his speech, Lammy criticised the current Conservative government for its record on upholding both domestic and international law. He said, "our international reputation for upholding the rule of law has hardly been helped by the flagrant domestic law breaking at the heart of government. I don’t just mean the attacks on lawyers and judges, pitting courts against the people, rather than treating them as the protectors of the people. I don’t just mean threats to restrict judicial review but actual law breaking."

He contrasted the present government with previous Conservative administrations which, he said, have always valued the UK's role in developing and promulgating international law. "From Edmund Burke to Margaret Thatcher – the rule of law lay at the heart of the Conservative vision of society. As Thatcher, a leader I do not usually quote, once said: 'Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.'"

A Labour government, however, would take action to restore the UK's position internationally. 

"First, we will repair Britain’s legal reputation and influence. We will update the Ministerial Code. Reinstating the duty of Ministers to comply with international law and the treaty obligations Britain has signed up to."

Second, he said, "we will stand up for human rights and challenge impunity. Too many international crimes go unpunished. Too many dictators never face justice."

Lammy continued: "Third, we will put the UK at the forefront of international legal debates, and we will lead on the challenges of the future. Establishing the new rules of the road for the frontiers that will shape the next century."

"Fourth, we will use the rule of law to position the UK as a leader on economic statecraft... Labour has a plan to tackle kleptocracy on the international stage."

He saidthat a Labour government would back calls for a new Transatlantic Anti-Corruption Council to be established to coordinate the fight against corruption.

Finally, Lammy announced that "Labour will join calls for the establishment of an international anti-corruption court. Designed to prosecute the most egregious acts of corruption. The kleptocrats, the most corrupt business people and those who enable them. Labour is determined to clean up the London Laundromat at home and defeat kleptocracy around the world."