Humanists back anti-genocide amendment ahead of Commons vote

18 January, 2021

Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani is coordinating efforts in support of the amendment. Official Commons portrait credit Chris McAndrew.

Humanists UK is supporting an amendment to the Trade Bill due to be voted on in the House of Commons tomorrow, that will enable the High Court to determine whether another country is committing genocide, and, where such a determination is reached, would revoke bilateral trade agreements between that country and the UK. The amendment, which has already been passed in the House of Lords, has been brought against the backdrop of Chinese atrocities against the Uighur people of Xinjiang province, which may well constitute genocide.

Humanists UK backed the amendment when it was first passed into the Bill in a vote of the House of Lords last month, briefing peers in favour of it. The vote in the Commons is now to decide whether the amendment will stay in the Bill, and Humanists UK is similarly briefing MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group in favour. Work on the amendment has largely been coordinated by the Coalition for Genocide Response.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

‘Genocide is the most serious of crimes and one that we should all do whatever we can to stamp out. But as the UK enters a new era of negotiating its own trade agreements, there is a major risk that the UK could find itself in bilateral agreements with states committing genocide, with no mechanism to revoke such agreements for this reason.

‘This amendment, if passed by the Commons, would provide such a mechanism. In so doing, it would significantly strengthen the UK Government’s ability to oppose genocide wherever it occurs, however powerful the country that is committing it is. This is why we urge MPs to vote for the amendment.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read our intervention at the UN Human Rights Council on the persecution of Uighurs in September.

Read more about our work on international campaigns.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.