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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of FCDO Human Rights UK in Holy See

23rd November 2011

Combating Violence against Women

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide remains a priority for the Coalition Government. The Government is also committed to work on women’s rights and combating violence against women and girls overseas. The Government’s action plan on tackling violence against women and girls can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/call-end-violence-women-girls/ .

The issue is one of many social issues that we discuss with the Holy See, and we welcome Pope Benedict’s recent message to African Bishops urging “all Christians to combat all acts of violence against women, speaking out and condemning them”. One particular aspect of violence against women is the global trade in human trafficking. In his address to African Bishops, Pope Benedict made clear that the Catholic Church must continue to make its voice heard and campaign against the practice. African women, and other women from poor countries, are particularly affected, with 79% of global trafficking being accounted for by sexual exploitation.

This embassy is looking for ways to engage with the Holy See on this issue, and is supporting a seminar to take place in London on 1 December, under the auspices of the Catholic Migration Forum, on human trafficking. Baroness Scotland of Asthal will chair the meeting. One of the keynote speakers is Sister Eugenia Bonetti of the Union of Major Superiors, an indefatigable campaigner to improve the treatment of women caught in the trap of traffickers at both ends of the chain, source countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, and destination countries like the United Kingdom.

I hope to be able to organise a further event in Rome to give profile top this brutal trade, and explore some of the ways forward. It is a complex issue, as the 1 December seminar will no doubt conclude. But as we reflect this 25th November on the many causes of violence against women, tackling the scourge of human trafficking should be one of our principal aims. I am sure that the British government and the Holy See, with our global networks and concerns, can find practical ways to collaborate in this area, and I would welcome ideas from readers of this blog.

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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