HC Deb 19 January 2004 vol 416 c933W
Mr. Challen

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether he has made formal representations to the United Nations about his proposal for global intervention in countries whose Governments abuse their populations, made in his speech on 30 October 2003 at the UN High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development; and what criteria would be used for such global interventions. [147449]

Hilary Benn

No formal representations have been made to the United Nations concerning intervention in countries with humanitarian crises. The Department for International Development is working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to contribute to the debate on UN reform. The High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change appointed by Kofi Annan has an important opportunity to make proposals for a more effective UN response in this area. The UK supports reform that will ensure that the UN Security Council assumes its full responsibility to guarantee peace and security. We cannot allow a repeat of the mistakes made in Rwanda in 1994.

Framing acceptable principles for intervention, so that people are protected effectively, and so that states are treated equally, is part of the challenge presently facing the United Nations. An important attempt to develop common ground on principles and criteria for intervention was made in the report of the Canadian-sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). We welcomed the commission's report, The Responsibility to Protect, which was published in December 2001. It attempts to move the debate from an unproductive discussion of intervention towards a new focus on the responsibilities held by states to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophes from mass murder, rape and from starvation. When states are unwilling or unable to fulfil their responsibilities, it argues that the responsibility to protect should be borne by a broader community of states. It also stresses that the responsibility to prevent conflict is as important as the responsibility to react, and that any intervention is accompanied by a responsibility to rebuild.

Back to