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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of UK in Holy See

9th July 2012

Working Together for an Arms Trade Treaty

It is estimated that 750,000 people are killed each year in armed violence. Millions more lives are blighted through injury, displacement and destroyed livelihoods. Much effort in multilateral negotiation goes in to the control and regulation of weapons of mass destruction. But, in fact, it is the so-called small and conventional arms that are the mass killers, fuelled by the unregulated trade in conventional weapons. While it is unrealistic to believe that we can have a world without weapons, we can help protect human life by controlling and regulating the international arms trade.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt answering questions at an event with Amnesty International and Oxfam youth activists to set out the UK’s vision for the Arms Trade Treaty, 20 June 2012.

Which is why, back in February, the UK and the Holy See agreed that we would: “share a commitment to work at the United Nations and other fora to strengthen the international focus on conflict prevention, disarmament, arms control and non proliferation, aimed at protecting human life and building a world more respectful of human dignity. As part of this effort, we look forward to positive outcomes in July to the final negotiations to agree upon a robust Arms Trade Treaty with a wide scope..”.

Throughout this month, negotiations are underway at the UN in New York to achieve just that. The United Kingdom is committed to securing a robust, effective and legally-binding Arms Trade Treaty, to stop weapons getting into the hands of those who would abuse human rights, harm development and undermine stability and democracy. We are under no illusion that securing it will be anything other than difficult. There are complicated commercial interests involved and different national laws to take into account.

That is why our collaboration with the Holy See will be crucial. We agree on the outcome we want to see. But while the UK will concentrate over the next few weeks on the technical “how” of bringing an ATT to conclusion, the Holy See will constantly remind negotiators of “why” – the moral arguments in favour of ambitious agreement. While we and our original co-sponsors of the UN ATT Resolution – Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Finland and Japan – are likely to be looking closely at the supply of weapons, the Holy See will want to address the demand, looking at how to promote a stronger culture of justice and peace, away from violence and criminality.

The ATT negotiations are a good example of where the Holy See and the UK can work together in a complementary way, for the common good. Now is the time for us to deliver.

2 comments on “Working Together for an Arms Trade Treaty

  1. Your way of looking at the world’s challenges is fundamentally Godlike: you like yearningly to see human lives be saved from bloodshed as well as God wants the salvation of all men and their social enjoyment.
    For me, you should know and be conscious of one thing : God sustains your views because He sees in you HIS COMAKERS of pease.God bless all your ways.

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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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