HL Deb 10 June 1999 vol 601 c1541

Lord Moyne asked Her Majesty's Government:

What stage has been reached in the case against them before the International Court of Justice by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and whether they are satisfied that they have a watertight defence.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

My Lords, on 2nd June the International Court of Justice rejected the FRY's request that it calls for a halt to allied military action. The court hell that the FRY had not established that the court had jurisdiction at this stage of the case against the United Kingdom. The decision related to the FRY's request for provisional measures. It did not deal with the substance of the FRY's main complaint about the legality of the use of force. We believe that we have a watertight defence. This is an attempt by the FRY to use the judicial process for propaganda purposes.

Lord Moyne

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Do Her Majesty's Government accept that the prima facie case against NATO for crimes against peace is as strong as that against Slobodan Milosevic for crimes against humanity? Do they accept that, unless both sides are equally prosecuted, any verdict against Milosevic will be totally discredited?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

No, my Lords. I do not accept that and nor do Her Majesty's Government.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill

My Lords, is the Minister aware that many international lawyers, wholly independent of the Government, regard international law in this area as being clearly on the side of the action taken by NATO and supported by the leadership of the Government?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

Yes, my Lords. I thank the noble Lord for pointing that out.

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