Welcome news from the House of Lords last week, where Lib Dem peer and government spokesperson for International Development, Lindsay Northover, for the first time said the British government believes that girls and women raped in armed conflict are protected under international humanitarian law, even when domestic law in the country in question says something else.
What that means in practice is that the UK government is willing to fund the full range of medical care for the victims, including abortion where medically necessary – even if domestic law in that country says abortion is illegal in all circumstances. It also means that in future all recipients of UK humanitarian aid money will need to use that money in line with this policy.
Deciding when international law should trump domestic law is always a tricky matter. In this case, it means that the UK government believes victims of horrific crimes during armed conflict can and should get the full range of medical treatment they need – and those are just the sorts of situations which international law exists for, where international human rights standards can and should be dominant.
It is a good decision.