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Mr Philip Hammond - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

On 18 January, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) launched a bidding round for the 201617 Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy (MCFHRD), doubling (to 10.6 million) a fund known last year as the Human Rights and Democracy Programme (HRDP).

The Magna Carta Fund is the FCOs strategic programme dedicated to human rights and democracy work. It aims to further British interests overseas by supporting high-impact projects which promote institution-building, and target systemic issues and the underlying causes of human rights problems. The increased size of the fund reflects the Governments strong commitment to human rights and focus on strategic interventions which prevent their violation. It will play an important role in helping to meet objectives set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, to prevent conflict, strengthen the rule-based international system and promote human rights, good governance and the rule of law.

The programme has been reconfigured around manifesto commitments and three broad themes, which exploit the mutually reinforcing nature of human rights and effective institutions. The new strategy (published in full at invites proposals that support:

  • democratic values and the rule of law;
  • the rules-based international order; and
  • human rights for a stable world.

This approach encompasses our previous eight thematic priorities, but allows British Embassies, High Commissions and implementers around the world the flexibility to address the issues that matter most in the local context and to respond to developments. Over the course of this Parliament the programme aims to amass evidence that human rights provide practical solutions to a wide variety of real-world problems, and are integral to the security and prosperity of all.

Mr Philip Hammond - Foreign and Commonwealth Office

On 15 July 2015, I made a statement to this House on the outcome of the nuclear negotiations with Iran (Official Report, column 895-896). Almost exactly six months later, I would like to take this opportunity to update the House about reaching Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPoA.

On 16 January the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has completed all of the steps required of it under Annex V of the JCPoA in order to trigger phased sanctions relief. To reach this point Iran has: shipped out over 12 tonnes of enriched uranium to Russia, thus significantly reducing its stockpile to below 300kg; removed over 13,000 centrifuges and associated infrastructure; and removed and made inoperable the core of the Arak plutonium reactor among other actions, a detailed list of which is included within the IAEAs report. Implementation gives the IAEA unprecedented access to sites in Iran, so that Irans civil nuclear programme will operate transparently.

In return, these measures have triggered the first phase of significant UN, EU and US sanctions relief. This will begin to improve many of Irans commercial relations, enabling it to trade with the world and benefit economically. There will be significant opportunities for British businesses and the Government is assisting them in identifying how to benefit from these. Restrictions remain in place to prevent proliferation, and Irans ballistic missile programme and arms sales also continue to be sanctioned.

Under the JCPoA, Iran is required to take further steps in order to trigger additional sanctions relief. Only after a further 8 years, or when the IAEA reaches its Broader Conclusion about Iran's nuclear programme, will the remaining sanctions on Iran be lifted. We will continue to work, with our partners in the Joint Commission, to ensure that any concerns about the implementation of the deal are appropriately addressed.

Reaching this point is an important step in improving global security. I told the House in July that the threat of an Iranian bomb was removed. Implementation of the JCPoA cements this achievement. I shall continue to inform the House of significant developments on the JCPoA throughout this Parliament.


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