I frequently receive emails from constituents who are concerned about human rights and world peace. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the delegation for relations with the US, and vice-chair of the delegation for relations with India, my role involves looking beyond as well as within the EU.
I stand up to oppose injustice wherever I see it. Many of you have asked me to act against grave human rights violations in the Philippines and Bangladesh. In response, I ensured debates and resolutions in the EP. Although the European Parliament and Bangladesh have made progress together working on garment sector and labour rights, recently the Bangledeshi government passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which allows marriage of minors in "special cases". I led a resolution on this issue because I was concerned that it could lead to the escalation of sexual harassment and daughters could even be forced to marry their rapists.
Today, one of the worst ongoing human tragedies is the bloody civil war in Syria. It is crucial that we bring an end to the violence as soon as possible. To do this, we must work together to implement the most efficient strategy. I questioned Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, on two points. First I asked about how we can achieve a successful, UN-monitored ceasefire, unlike the failed attempt last September. Secondly, I explained the importance of not making the same mistakes as we made in the Iraq war. We cannot leave the country as a failed state if we want anything resembling peace in the future. Watch my full statement here.
I have also spoken in plenary about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions are displaced and thousands are dying. Half a million children are at risk of malnutrition. We need serious international political pressure in order to avoid destabilisation of the entire central African region.
The Foreign Affairs Committee is a key player in the design and implementation of the EU's foreign policy and weighs in on all international agreements which define the EU's role in the wider world.
Foreign relations with growing economies such as India are crucial to economic growth. The US is one of the biggest sources of direct investment in the West Midlands, so maintaining ties with America is vital for our local economy. By working closely with representatives from the US, I can promote key industries.
The West Midlands is one of the most diverse regions in the UK so our ties with the rest of the world are already very strong – by increasing these links we are better able to take on today’s global challenges.