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UK Overseas Territories

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the value was of the agricultural products imported by UK overseas territories in (a) 2000 and (b) 2005. [50764]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government of the territory is responsible for the compilation of statistics of this kind and several of them have been unable to provide the information requested. The most up-to-date information available on the value of agricultural products imported by the UK overseas territories is as follows:
British Antarctic Territory(22)(22)(22)(22)
British Indian Ocean Territory(22)(22)(22)(22)
British Virgin Islands(22)(22)(22)(22)
Cayman Islands(22)(22)(22)(22)
Falkland Islands3,575,0424,100,704
St. Helena(22)(22)(22)(22)
Ascension Island(22)(22)(22)(22)
Tristan da Cunha(22)(22)(22)(22)
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands(22)(22)(22)(22)
Sovereign Base Areas (Akrotiri and Dhekelia)(22)(22)(22)(22)
Turks and Caicos Islands14,588,27518,693,089

(22) Detailed figures for the import of agricultural products are not available.
Beverages and spirits are included in the total amount for agricultural imports.

United Nations

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made towards a UN rapid reaction capability for traditional peace-keeping operations. [50163]

Dr. Howells: The UN world summit in September 2005 supported and encouraged the development of rapid deployment arrangements in support of UN peacekeeping. In particular, it welcomed efforts by regional organisations such as the European Union and African Union to develop relevant capabilities.

The UN Department of peacekeeping operations is currently considering three options to provide timely additional support to UN missions at times of crisis: provision of a rapid deployment capability by regional organisations; provision of a short-term capability by
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one or more individual countries; and providing co-operation arrangements between UN missions in the same region. The report recommends that all these options be considered in parallel.

Progress has already been made on two of these recommendations. In the area of regional rapid reaction, the EU and UN are discussing how the EU battle groups could be used in appropriate circumstances in support of UN missions. The EU is currently considering a request from the UN to provide additional support to the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo during elections later this year. The African Union is also taking steps towards establishment of an African stand-by force, supported by the UK and other international partners.

Progress is also being made on arrangements between UN missions. The Security Council has recently authorised the deployment of a force from the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to support UN forces in Cote d' Ivoire in view of recent events there. Similarly UNMIL is providing a contingency force to support the UN forces providing security for the Sierra Leone special court, should the need arise.

The UK is playing an active role in both the UN and EU in developing appropriate rapid reaction capabilities in support of UN peacekeeping operations.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in developing the UN standby arrangements system. [50164]

Mr. Straw: The United Nations stand-by arrangements system (UNSAS) has been introduced by the UN to increase the availability of forces for peacekeeping operations, and to reduce the time taken for their deployment. The system is based on conditional commitments made by UN member states to make available specified military and other resources within agreed response times. The system has taken some time to bed down, but is now proving increasingly useful for the generation of force units and the provision of individuals, including military observers and staff officers, to peacekeeping operations.

The UN Secretary-General recently reported that force generation for complex peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi and Haiti have shown that resources pledged are now more adequate to mission needs and that the declarations made by member states under the UNSAS arrangements are more realistic and up to date. However, getting member states to commit forces to rapid deployment as part of the UNSAS process has shown limited success. The UN's Department of peacekeeping operations is examining ways of making it more attractive for member states to commit to rapid deployments as part of UNSAS.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in developing the Multinational Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade for UN operations. [50165]

Mr. Straw: The establishment of the multinational Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade in 1996 (SHIRBRIG) followed a recommendation from the UN
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Secretary General that UN member states should consider establishing a rapid deployment force to support UN peacekeeping operations. SHIRBRIG was established by Austria, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. Fifteen countries now participate in the brigade, with a number of others taking part as observers.

SHIRBRIG is available to take part in Security Council-mandated operations for a period of up to six months. It is able to provide an initial headquarters and planning capability as part of the start-up of an operation, or to deploy as a whole brigade as part of a UN peacekeeping operation.

SHIRBRIG is made up of three elements: a Steering Committee which makes policy and oversees force generation and deployment; a Planning Element which serves as the nucleus for the force headquarters and plans for individual deployments; and a Brigade Pool of Forces consisting of the troops made available to SHIRBRIG by the participating countries. The Brigade aims to be able to deploy 4,000–5,000 troops.

Since its inception, SHIRBRIG has made the following deployments:

Uranium Enrichment

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government's policy is on which countries may legitimately operate uranium enrichment facilities. [50211]

Dr. Howells: The nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) affirms the right of all parties, including non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS), to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Pursuit of peaceful nuclear technology by these states, including the more sensitive aspects of the fuel cycle such as enrichment of uranium, may be undertaken provided the state does so in conformity with articles I, II and III of the treaty. Article III of the treaty requires all NNWS states party to have International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on such facilities in order to verify the fulfilment of the state's obligations under the NPT. The safeguards required under article III are to be applied to all nuclear material under the state's control.

The three states not party to the NPT (India, Pakistan and Israel) are not bound by the provisions of the treaty.

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