Terms of reference for FCO review on persecution of Christians

Policy paper

Independent review of FCO support for persecuted Christians, commissioned by the Foreign Secretary: terms of reference
Published 8 February 2019

The Review will map levels of persecution of and other discrimination against Christians in key countries around the world. It will provide an objective assessment of the impact and levels of FCO support and make recommendations in this regard. The Review will be presented to the Foreign Secretary.

The objectives of the Review are to:

  • Establish recent and continuing levels of persecution and other discriminatory treatment affecting Christian communities around the world, focusing on a number of key countries, and based on an assessment of the existing data, and identify trends and underlying social, ideological, political and historical drivers and causes;
  • Analyse the range of persecution and other discrimination Christians suffer, their direct discrimination or targeting in law, employment, business, education and academia; discrimination due to social or cultural norms, especially with regard to gender inequality; or that resulting from insufficient protection in administrative, political or legal systems;
  • Examine the treatment of and outcomes for affected Christians and the range and effectiveness of local and international responses, including that of regional and multilateral bodies;
  • Provide an independent and objective assessment of FCO support, specifically whether the FCO offers appropriate and proportionate support for Christians, given the various religious minorities and discriminated groups facing threats; and
  • Identify countries of most concern and/or where the UK has particular opportunities to influence.

Outputs and timing
The Review will take place over five months from the date of its launch (30 January 2019).

The first phase of the review, including a comprehensive assessment and analysis of existing evidence of the contemporary persecution of, and other discrimination against Christians to be incrementally published on the Review website, will conclude with an initial report to the Foreign Secretary in April 2019.

The second phase will assess the FCO’s current and recent response to the persecution of and other discriminatory behaviour against Christians in light of the above and report to the Foreign Secretary by 28 June 2019 with recommendations for a cohesive and comprehensive policy and operational response.

Both reports will be published by the Foreign Secretary. Information may be withheld from publication in the reports where required by law or where it is considered necessary in the public interest. The final report will be laid before Parliament.

Approach and conduct of the Review
The Review will be guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with particular regard to Article 18 and related articles in the human rights treaties, acknowledging that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

The Review will draw on leading experts to promote engagement in a wide public consultation, enabling representation from across the global Christian community. This will enable direct engagement with key individuals, organisations and agencies both in the UK and abroad, ensuring that as comprehensive a global picture of the persecution of and other discrimination against Christians is established and available as a resource.

The Review will focus on a number of key countries (identified at the start of the Review) which reflect various situations of concern, contexts, and where the FCO might have most impact in reducing both direct and indirect persecution and discrimination. The Review will include visits to a number of focus countries as well as to relevant multilateral institutions.

Given the short timescale, the Review will draw extensively on existing available research and will make recommendations for future evidence gathering, where necessary. The Review will have a strong focus on evidence and consultation with a range of actors, including survivors/victims, civil society institutions, the diplomatic community, governmental and multilateral entities.

The Review will focus on the work of the FCO; other public authorities may wish to take note of the points of learning.