|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Ian Pearson: Leaders agreed at the UN World Summit on 1416 September 2005 that a new UN Human Rights Council should be established as soon as possible during the current session of the General Assembly. We have worked hard to support the efforts of the president of the General Assembly to reconcile a range of different views on the mandate, function and modalities of the council, building on the existing Commission on Human Rights. We support his view that there is now a window of opportunity to agree on the council this month. We expect him to issue a final text on its establishment very shortly, with a view to its adoption by the General Assembly in the next two weeks. We are encouraging him to keep to this timetable, so long as it is not to the detriment of achieving an effective council. According to the latest draft text, the council would convene for the first time on 16 June 2006. We consider this realistic.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2006, Official Report, column 1908W what progress has been made by the African Union towards the establishment of an African stand-by force. 
Ian Pearson: In March 2005 the African Union (AU) adopted a Roadmap for the Operationalisation of the African Stand-by Force (ASF). This commits the AU to establish the ASF based on five regional brigades, able to deploy complex peacekeeping missions by 2010.
The first stage of the ASF Roadmap involves the creation of Planning Elements at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, and in each of the five regions to provide the AU with strategic level management capacity to co-deploy with the UN on observer missions. With the support of the UK and other international partners, the Planning Elements in East and West Africa have already been set up and are now completing recruitment. Progress is also being made by the AU in Addis Ababa and by the Southern brigade. Structures for the Central and Northern brigades are not yet as advanced.
In parallel the AU, in collaboration with the Sub-Regional Organisations, is leading on the development of ASF policy in key military disciplines. Each region has been tasked with running one of five Technical Workshops covering Doctrine; Standard Operating Procedures; Command, Control, Communications and Information Systems; Logistics; and Training and Evaluation. Preparatory meetings were held in January and the Workshops are scheduled to take place over the next few months. The UK and our International Partners are providing technical and financial support to this process.
The UK is fully committed to supporting the AU in the implementation of the ASF Roadmap. During our presidencies of the G8 and EU in 2005, the UK worked hard to ensure that specific commitments on the ASF
27 Feb 2006 : Column 319W
were included in the G8 Communique and the EU Strategy for Africa, and we will continue to work with our G8, EU and African partners, towards achieving these goals.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2006 to question 50163, when the EU will decide whether to provide additional support to the UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The EU is actively considering how best to provide support to the UN forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The subject will be discussed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 27 February 2006. However, further work is likely to be required to define the potential tasks and the resources required to fulfil them before a final decision can be taken.
Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 February 2006 to question 50163, when the three options being considered in parallel will be decided upon; and when such considerations began. 
Mr. Straw: A rapid deployment capability for the UN was recommended in the Brahimi report on UN peacekeeping reform in 2000. Since then a number of working groups set up under the UN General Assembly, have studied the different options which may be available to the UN. The UN World Summit of September 2005 supported the further development of those options. The three options currently being considered by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and outlined in the answer of 14 February 2006, Official Report, column 1908W, continue to be developed, but are already being applied to an extent in practice.
The timing of development of rapid deployment capabilities by regional organisations will vary from one organisation to another. The EU provided such a capability in support of the UN in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. The first standing EU battlegroup, available for rapid deployment in appropriate circumstances, was declared operational in January 2005. Full operational capacity of the EU battlegroup concept is due to be reached by 2007. The African Union plan to have capacity to manage complex peacekeeping operations by 2010.
Flexible arrangements allowing the redeployment of troops between UN missions began this year between missions in Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire and Sierra Leone and provide a model that can be built upon in the future as appropriate where missions are in close proximity and where the appropriate capacities exist.
The provision of a short term capability by one or more individual countries is still in the concept stage and there is no clear time-scale for this, although some arrangements already exist, such as the Stand-by Forces High Readiness Brigade established in 1996.
The further development of these three options and the appropriate balance between them will be further considered by the UN General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping in March. The
27 Feb 2006 : Column 320W
Committee's deliberations and subsequent report will provide DPKO with guidance on how best to develop these options in 2006.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 6 February 2006, Official Report, columns 78485W, on the United States, from which countries the former residents of the UK were transferred to Guantanamo Bay. 
Ian Pearson [holding answer 13 February 2006]: Following the recent transfer of one individual from Guantanamo to Uganda, there are four remaining detainees in Guantanamo who were formerly settled in the UK (i.e. who had been granted indefinite leave to remain). Two of these individuals were detained in the Gambia before being transferred to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo. A third, according to his lawyers, was detained in Pakistan and transferred to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo. A fourth, according to unverified public sources, was also detained in Pakistan and transferred to Afghanistan and then Guantanamo.
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of visitor visa applications from (a) married and (b) unmarried men applying from (i) India, (ii) Pakistan and (iii) Bangladesh have been refused in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: UKvisas does not break down their visit visa statistics by marital status and therefore cannot provide the information requested. However, UKvisas' annual statistics reports from financial year 200102 onwards are available online at www.ukvisas.gov.uk under Entry Clearance Facts and Figures". The reports show the total number of visit visa applications received, issued and refused at each Visa Section globally.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether previous EU-Morocco fisheries agreements have enabled EU vessels to have licences to fish in Saharawi waters. 
Dr. Howells: Under the European Community's fisheries agreement with Morocco that expired in 1999, licences provided to European vessels allowed activities within the Moroccan fisheries zone under the sovereignty of jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Morocco".
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to his answer of 16 January 2006, Official Report, column
27 Feb 2006 : Column 321W
984W, on works of art, whether his Department has (a) facsimiles, (b) photos and (c) postcards of the stolen artwork. 
Ian Pearson: The British embassy in Buenos Aires retains photocopies of the stolen artwork. These were obtained from images held by the Government Art Collection who have also circulated them in the Art Loss Register.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|