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Model letter to UK government


UK - On July 30, 2009 a 180-page final report of the UK Institute of Public Policy Research's security commission, recommends that the government ensures that its own agents employ only legal methods and robustly challenge alleged or suspected torture. The commission with highly influential figures in it reccomends Brittain to sign the Convention. Read the news article in the Guardian

UK - Answer of Secretary of State on June 26, 2007 to question whether the government intends to sign the Convention

UK - The UK Human Rights Annual Report 2007 states that 'the UK did not sign the Convention at the ceremony in Paris on February 6, 2007 because we do not sign international instruments unless we have a firm intention to ratify within a reasonable time frame.' Read more...

On March 23rd the UK Government answered questions in parliament on the status of the ratification. The Government is currently examining the impact on UK law, for instance the introduction of one or more criminal offences. Read the answers (pdf)0




The UK government is still considering all the legal ramifications of signature and ratification. In parliamentary debates Foreign Office ministers have reiterated that the UK has a policy of only signing a Convention if they have a commitment to ratify it within twelve months.

The ICAED wants to put pressure on the UK government to sign and ratify the Convention for the following reasons:

  • The ratification of the Convention would constitute an unmistakable signal that the government is committed to ensuring that enforced disappearances will not be tolerated.
  • Signature and ratification of the Convention would provide protection for all British citizens anywhere in the world from enforced disappearance. Moreover, it would provide those victims and families of victims with the means to seek justice on their own behalf or on behalf of their loved ones.
  • The problem of enforced disappearance is a global one. A global problem can only be countered with a strongly supported global solution.
  • Signature and ratification of the Convention would improve the government’s human rights legacy.
  • The Convention would allow the UK government to address the matter of enforced disappearance carried out by other countries through the universal jurisdiction provision in the Convention. 
  • Finally, the Convention would put in place measures that would prevent the practice of enforced disappearance on UK soil.

In recent years there have been claims of UK complicity in rendition, secret detention and enforced disappearance of individuals in the context of counter-terrorism.


The UK co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution on the adoption of the Convention (together with 102 other states). The government welcomed the adoption of the Convention in the General Assembly but has so far not made any move towards signing or ratifying the Convention.  


For the UK government to sign and ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance with no limiting reservations, in doing so sending a clear signal of their commitment to human rights internationally.


We ask you to write a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw at the Justice Ministry and copy all letters to David Miliband at the Foreign Office and the UK ambassador in your country.

Send your letter to:

Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor

Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
United Kingdom

DX 117000 Selborne House

Rt Hon David Miliband MP

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Foreign and Commonweath Office, King Charles Street London SW1A 2A, United Kingdom

Example letter  

(in Word format)

Dear Secretary of State,

I am writing to you with regard to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. As you know, the Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly by consensus on 20 December 2006 (A/RES/61/177) and it represents the culmination of a long effort by many families of disappeared persons, non-governmental organizations and governments to address the continuing problem of enforced disappearance through international law.

The Convention will be an effective way to help prevent enforced disappearances, establish the truth about this crime, punish the perpetrators and provide reparations to the victims and their families. As countless persons continue to be “disappeared” throughout the world, the prompt entry into force of the Convention and its ratification and effective implementation in all countries must be a priority for the international community.

The ratification of the Convention would constitute an unmistakable signal that your government is committed to ensuring that enforced disappearances will not be tolerated.

I therefore urge you to ensure that the UK government:

  • sign and ratify the Convention at the earliest opportunity without any limiting reservations;
  • make the declarations required under Articles 31 and 32 of the Convention, thus recognizing the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to consider communications from individuals and states parties; and
  • take the necessary steps effectively to implement the Convention at national level soon after ratification.

By taking action without hesitation, the UK would be among the first 20 countries to ratify the Convention and thus instrumental to its entry into force.

I thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

[Name, City, Country]