WHO Pandemic Treaty and IHR negotiations -- UK negotiation teams

Mr B Kingsley made this Freedom of Information request to Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was refused by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Dear Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office,

This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please could you disclose the names, job titles and departments of the UK's senior negotiating team leads for each of:

1. The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for the WHO Pandemic Treaty (CA+); and

2. The WHO Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations 2005.

If for data protection or any other reason you are legally not able to disclose the names of those officials, please could you nevertheless disclose the job titles and departments, or other non-personal identifiers which make it possible to understand at what level within the Government those lead negotiators operate.

In view of the simplicity of the information that I have requested, I hope that you will be able to respond within the 20 working days specified by the FOI Act, and I look forward to receiving your response accordingly.

Yours faithfully,

Mr B Kingsley

Information Rights, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Thank you for contacting the FCDO Information Rights Unit (IRU).

 

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING ADVICE

 

Once we have officially accepted your request, we are unable to provide
progress updates within the initial 20 working day deadline for response.

Please do not send multiple emails about the same enquiry, as this is
likely to cause a delay in our response time. 

Should you need assistance in making or refining your request you may wish
to consult the gov.uk guide on [1]How to make a Freedom of Information
(FOI) request

 

The Information rights Unit are not able to respond to queries on the
issues mentioned below. Emails about these issues will be deleted without
response. Please note the relevant guidance and redirect your query
accordingly. 

 

 

Afghanistan related enquiries

The UK evacuation operation has now ceased. The security situation in
Afghanistan remains extremely volatile. There is an ongoing and high
threat of terrorist attack. The potential for terrorist attacks,
particularly around Kabul airport, remains very high. British nationals
remaining in Afghanistan need to consider carefully the risks should they
attempt to leave by any route. We advise against all travel to
Afghanistan. We continue to closely monitor events in Afghanistan. Please
check our travel advice for our latest advice for British nationals, and
subscribe for updates.

The British Embassy in Kabul has suspended in-country operations. All UK
diplomatic and consular staff have been temporarily withdrawn. The ability
to provide consular support to British nationals is extremely limited and
is being provided virtually. If you are a British national in Afghanistan
and need to speak to a consular officer call the FCDO on +441908 516666
(or 01908 516666 in the UK). The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of
travelling to any alternative departure point.

British nationals who remain in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to
[2]register their presence in order to receive important updates. This
will enable us to validate the numbers of British nationals seeking
assistance, and to provide essential information to British nationals that
remain in Afghanistan, when it becomes available.

If you are an Afghan national and are eligible or have been approved for
assistance under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP),there
is more information here:
[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

If you are a non-British national in Afghanistan, or are the family member
of a non-British national in Afghanistan, and in need of assistance,
please see
[4]https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-...
or call +44 2475 389 980 (or 02475 389 980 in the UK).

Current and former locally employed UK government staff, ie those who were
employed directly by the UK government, not through a third party, should
apply to ARAP following this link:
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

Further information on the ARAP scheme can be found here:
[6]https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021...

If you have already applied for ARAP, and would like an update on your
application, please re-send your query here:
[7][email address]

 

Non-Afghanistan related Consular Assistance for British Nationals  

 

If you are a British national seeking urgent consular assistance, please
call the Consular Assistance Team on 020 7008 5000 (or +44 20 7008
5000).   

 

ATAS Certificates

 

Email [8][email address] if you have a query about your application. We
are unable to reply to any query on an application.

 

Legalisation

 

Contact the Legalisation Office if you need an update on an application or
if you have a general enquiry: [9][email address], Telephone:
03700 00 22 44
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, [10]Find out about call charges

 

Visas

 

Please see guidance on [11]Applying for a visa to come to the UK or
contact [12]UK Visas and immigration for help.

 

Travel Advice

If you require travel advice for your destination country, please visit
the [13]Travel Advice pages, which contain the latest information on
coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and areas where the
FCDO advises against travel. You can also subscribe to travel advice
email alerts for your destination and monitor the FCDO coronavirus travel
advice page. You can follow FCDO Travel social media channels
on [14]Twitter, [15]Facebook and [16]Instagram. If you have a question
about the advice or a topic that is not covered, [17]please submit an
enquiry.  

 

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...
2. https://www.register-afghanistan.service...
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
4. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-...
5. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
6. https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021...
7. mailto:[email address]
8. mailto:[email address]
9. mailto:[email address]
10. https://www.gov.uk/call-charges
11. https://www.gov.uk/apply-to-come-to-the-uk
12. https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-o...
13. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
14. https://twitter.com/fcdotravelgovuk
15. https://www.facebook.com/fcdotravel
16. https://www.instagram.com/travelaware/
17. https://www.contact-embassy.service.gov....
18. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

Information Rights Unit,

Dear B Kingsley

Thank you for your FOI request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We received your request on 4th August. It has been assigned a unique
reference number FOI2023/14934. We aim to respond by 4th September.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights Unit

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Information Rights Unit,

1 Attachment

Dear B Kingsley

Please see the attached letter regarding your FOI request.

Kind Regards

Information Rights Unit

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Dear Information Rights Unit at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office,

You have allowed the full 20 working day period to elapse before informing me that you wish to take a further month to reach a decision on my straightforward information request. You say that you need this extensive period of additional time to complete an assessment of whether you wish to rely on the exemption at s.38, FOI Act.

I see no reasonable basis for you to take such a prolonged period to reach a view on that single point of interpretation, bearing in mind that you have already had a full month to consider my request. I therefore object, and I ask please that you significantly accelerate that process to dispel the inference otherwise that the FCDO is unreasonably delaying making a decision.

Plainly there is no risk to the physical or mental health or personal safety of me or other members of the public in your disclosing the information I have sought, so I can only presume that you will suggest that disclosure may endanger the health (subsection 1(a)) or personal safety (subsection 1(b)) of one or more of the individuals who are implicitly the subject of my request.

It would be implausible to suggest that disclosure merely of the job titles and departments of senior civil servants involved in these two negotiation processes could cause a risk to their physical health. I doubt also that you will assert that disclosure of the job titles and departments of the senior civil servants involved may cause one or more of them to suffer a psychological disorder or to aggravate an existing mental illness. Were you to do so, it would be a matter of serious concern for us all that ministers had entrusted officials of such a fragile disposition to lead the negotiation of these two international accords in the UK's best interests.

And finally, given the ostensibly economic, diplomatic and bureaucratic nature of the topics under negotiation, and the fact that the senior individuals concerned are presumably by now already well-known to all of the other negotiating parties, it would equally strain credulity, and I suggest would fail to accord with the ICOs guidance and relevant case law on this subsection, to assert that disclosure would or would be likely to endanger the personal safety of any such individual.

My own and the public's interest in understanding where and at what level within Government the negotiation of these important public health accords of likely inter-generational relevance is being coordinated and led is significant. Disclosure of, at a minimum, the job titles and departments of the lead negotiators is central to that understanding and would plainly promote the broad principle of "transparency by public authorities for decisions taken by them", and (in view of the public spending aspects of the Treaty in particular) at the same time promote transparency in relation to the Government's approach for negotiating a material public spending commitment.

My request already anticipated the possibility that disclosing the names of certain individuals may be problematic. If that is the focus of your assessment at this point, please for now disclose the information that you believe can and should be disclosed and then complete your assessment of any additional information about which you believe you have a legitimate s.38 concern.

Yours faithfully,

Mr B Kingsley

Information Rights, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Thank you for contacting the FCDO Information Rights Unit (IRU).

 

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING ADVICE

 

Once we have officially accepted your request, we are unable to provide
progress updates within the initial 20 working day deadline for response.

Please do not send multiple emails about the same enquiry, as this is
likely to cause a delay in our response time. 

Should you need assistance in making or refining your request you may wish
to consult the gov.uk guide on [1]How to make a Freedom of Information
(FOI) request

 

The Information rights Unit are not able to respond to queries on the
issues mentioned below. Emails about these issues will be deleted without
response. Please note the relevant guidance and redirect your query
accordingly. 

 

 

Afghanistan related enquiries

The UK evacuation operation has now ceased. The security situation in
Afghanistan remains extremely volatile. There is an ongoing and high
threat of terrorist attack. The potential for terrorist attacks,
particularly around Kabul airport, remains very high. British nationals
remaining in Afghanistan need to consider carefully the risks should they
attempt to leave by any route. We advise against all travel to
Afghanistan. We continue to closely monitor events in Afghanistan. Please
check our travel advice for our latest advice for British nationals, and
subscribe for updates.

The British Embassy in Kabul has suspended in-country operations. All UK
diplomatic and consular staff have been temporarily withdrawn. The ability
to provide consular support to British nationals is extremely limited and
is being provided virtually. If you are a British national in Afghanistan
and need to speak to a consular officer call the FCDO on +441908 516666
(or 01908 516666 in the UK). The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of
travelling to any alternative departure point.

British nationals who remain in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged to
[2]register their presence in order to receive important updates. This
will enable us to validate the numbers of British nationals seeking
assistance, and to provide essential information to British nationals that
remain in Afghanistan, when it becomes available.

If you are an Afghan national and are eligible or have been approved for
assistance under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP),there
is more information here:
[3]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

If you are a non-British national in Afghanistan, or are the family member
of a non-British national in Afghanistan, and in need of assistance,
please see
[4]https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-...
or call +44 2475 389 980 (or 02475 389 980 in the UK).

Current and former locally employed UK government staff, ie those who were
employed directly by the UK government, not through a third party, should
apply to ARAP following this link:
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

Further information on the ARAP scheme can be found here:
[6]https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021...

If you have already applied for ARAP, and would like an update on your
application, please re-send your query here:
[7][email address]

 

Non-Afghanistan related Consular Assistance for British Nationals  

 

If you are a British national seeking urgent consular assistance, please
call the Consular Assistance Team on 020 7008 5000 (or +44 20 7008
5000).   

 

ATAS Certificates

 

Email [8][email address] if you have a query about your application. We
are unable to reply to any query on an application.

 

Legalisation

 

Contact the Legalisation Office if you need an update on an application or
if you have a general enquiry: [9][email address], Telephone:
03700 00 22 44
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, [10]Find out about call charges

 

Visas

 

Please see guidance on [11]Applying for a visa to come to the UK or
contact [12]UK Visas and immigration for help.

 

Travel Advice

If you require travel advice for your destination country, please visit
the [13]Travel Advice pages, which contain the latest information on
coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and areas where the
FCDO advises against travel. You can also subscribe to travel advice
email alerts for your destination and monitor the FCDO coronavirus travel
advice page. You can follow FCDO Travel social media channels
on [14]Twitter, [15]Facebook and [16]Instagram. If you have a question
about the advice or a topic that is not covered, [17]please submit an
enquiry.  

 

Follow us online: www.gov.uk/fcdo

This email is intended for the addressee(s) only: All messages sent and
received by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office may be
monitored in line with relevant [18]UK legislation

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...
2. https://www.register-afghanistan.service...
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
4. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-...
5. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...
6. https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2021...
7. mailto:[email address]
8. mailto:[email address]
9. mailto:[email address]
10. https://www.gov.uk/call-charges
11. https://www.gov.uk/apply-to-come-to-the-uk
12. https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-o...
13. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
14. https://twitter.com/fcdotravelgovuk
15. https://www.facebook.com/fcdotravel
16. https://www.instagram.com/travelaware/
17. https://www.contact-embassy.service.gov....
18. https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

Information Rights Unit,

1 Attachment

Dear B Kingsley,

I am writing in response to your Freedom of Information request
FOI2023/14934, received 4th August. Please find our response attached.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights Unit

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office