HL Deb 02 February 2005 vol 669 cc41-2WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What principles they apply in working for conflict resolution; and how they attempt to ensure that agreements reached become self-sustaining. [HL756]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

Effort to prevent and resolve conflict, and build peace, is fundamental to HMG's multilateral and bilateral security activity. We are actively engaged around the world in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, for example, in Afghanistan, west Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans.

The conflicts the Government are working to resolve are varied and complex: many are within states, rather than between them, and involve a disparate range of actors (both state and non-state). There is no single "one size fits all" approach to their resolution. But a number of principles apply in most cases, the most important being:

that all parties to the conflict need to be engaged in the process of conflict resolution;

that any peace agreement reached is owned by the parties and that both they and the international community are politically committed to it;

that it is important to identify countries or other interest groups who have strong links to the country in conflict, and to engage them in support of the conflict resolution effort;

that a measured approach, combining both pressure and incentives, and using a full range of political, diplomatic and other instruments is usually required; and

that "quiet diplomacy" and the use of mediators (for example, United Nations (UN) or European Union appointed) can be effective tools.

We recognise that reaching a peace agreement is only one part of conflict resolution. Once peace is achieved it must be sustained. Each situation is different, but again some important principles apply:

a long-term approach is required;

integrated mission planning for peace support operations is needed to ensure that immediate stabilisation links with transition to sustainable peace; and

parallel action, engaging donors and international bodies, is often crucial in building a self-sustaining peace: for example, capacity building in the areas of governance, economy and rule of law. Programmes for security sector reform, transitional justice and disarmament, demobilisation and resettlement of combatants can play a key role.

Against this background the Government are working hard to improve multilateral institutions' willingness and ability to act effectively in preventing and resolving conflicts and building peace, including in the UN, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and through the development of NATO and European Union security and defence capabilities. HMG will use their G8 Presidency in 2005 to reinforce efforts to improve security and stability in Africa. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has welcomed the report of the UN Secretary-General's high-level panel published on 2 December 2004 which makes a wide range of recommendations aimed at improving the international response to threats to global peace and security. HMG will be giving the UN Secretary-General firm support in taking this agenda forward.