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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of FCDO Human Rights UK in Holy See

12th April 2013

Conflict: preventing it, ending it, dealing with its consequences

G8 Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, London 11 April 2013.

The Foreign Ministers of the G8 met this week in London as part of the UK’s one year G8 Presidency. As their statement made clear, they addressed between them the major issues of the day: Syria, Iran, North Korea, and the Middle East Peace process. But G8 Ministers were not just fire fighting. The focus of the British Presidency continues to be as much about the long term, strategic need to prevent conflict, and about practical ways to manage its consequences, in particular the devastating impact on the innocent men, woman and children caught up in its wake.

As I discussed this week on Vatican Radio, one of the most devastating aspects of modern conflict is the use of rape as a weapon of war. At the urging of the United Kingdom, which under William Hague has made this a foreign policy priority, Foreign Ministers endorsed a Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict. This set out practical ways of dealing with the culture of impunity that surrounds sexual violence in conflict, ensuring that we increase the numbers of perpetrators brought to justice, and starting the process of building a strong and effective international coalition to tackle the problem. The scale is huge. UN estimates suggest that 500,000 women have been raped since 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone. Pope Francis discussed conflict and its consequences with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 8 April. The UK, with the G8, is responding to the Pope’s call for urgent action. We look forward to Holy See’s support for this important initiative.

Countries that have come through conflict can be helped back to health. The G8 focused in particular on Burma and Somalia, looking at strengthening the re-engagement of both countries with global economic structures and responsible investors, the surest route to long term political and economic recovery. Dealing with cycles of conflict and instability take time, and sustained effort. The G8 does not have all the answers. But it retains the will, and sense of global responsibility, to continue to try. That is the essence of Britain’s G8 Presidency.

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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