HC Deb 15 June 1977 vol 933 cc375-6
19. Mr. Robin F. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the Diplomatic Conference on Humanitarian Law currently meeting in Geneva.

Mr. Luard

The Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict has just completed its fourth and final session in Geneva with the adoption by consensus of two protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

The United Kingdom delegation has played an active and positive rôle throughout the conference and has attempted to ensure that the texts which emerged were sensible, enforceable and widely acceptable.

The texts adopted raise many complex issues, not only legal but also political and military. Her Majesty's Government will be giving them careful study, in conjunction with our allies, with a view to reaching a fully informed decision on the question of signature and eventual ratification of the protocols.

Mr. Cook

I welcome the agreement on the two protocols, but will my hon. Friend say what is the Government's attitude towards the resumption of the work of the ad hoc committee on conventional weapons which was unable to reach agreement before the close of the conference? Do the Government accept that the work of the committee in updating the Geneva and The Hague Conventions is long overdue?

Mr. Luard

The Government see great value in the work of the ad hoc committee on weaponry. As my hon. Friend knows —we have had discussions about the matter—the committee was discussing a number of very important topics. The question of the resumption of the meetings has not yet been decided.

Mr. Kershaw

Does the Minister agree that the conclusions of the conference were in some way unsatisfactory? When will another opportunity arise for them to be reconsidered by Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Luard

I do not accept that the results of the conference were altogether unsatisfactory. Her Majesty's Government have voted in favour of the two new protocols, and I understand the concern that has been expressed in some quarters about certain aspects of the protocols, but in many cases this concern is based on a misunderstanding of the exact meaning of these protocols.

Back to
Forward to