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Lord Willoughby de Broke: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that helpful reply. Will he tell the House why the Government were so ready to align themselves with European Union threats of action against Canada, which was only doing its best to protect its fisheries, in the light of the real concerns felt in this country about the activities of Spanish trawlers in our waters?
Earl Howe: My Lords, we took the stance that we did because Canada decided to act in a confrontational way, having taken the law into its own hands, and in seeking to impose a formula for sharing the agreed total allowable catch for Greenland halibut. In our view, that is not a sensible way in which to resolve an honest disagreement. It is now our task to mediate. We believe that we have made a useful contribution to that process.
Lord Shaughnessy: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the problem in this altercation is not a question of the allowable taking of stocks? Indeed, it is a problem of enforcement of the allowables already agreed to by the North West Atlantic Fishery Organisation. Will the Minister further agree that the negotiations taking place at present in Brussels, to which he referred, and sponsored by the Government in the person of his right honourable friend the Secretary of State, would not, perhaps, have had the same impetus
Earl Howe: My Lords, I fully agree with the noble Lord that one of the lessons to come out of the affair has been the need to improve enforcement. We are fully committed to doing that in the forthcoming negotiations. However, the problem is not the total allowable catch of Greenland halibutindeed, that has been decidedbut how to share out the catch. Canada wanted the EU to reduce catches by more than 90 per cent. to some 3,000 tonnes. Based on its recent track record, the EU was prepared to accept a reduction of 58 per cent., compared with 1993, to some 18,630 tonnes. That difference of view must be resolved at the negotiating table and not by force. I very much welcome the signs that Canada is willing to talk about possible reallocation of quotas.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the great majority of people in this country stood aghast at the spectacle of the British Government, without any apparent consultation, taking sides with Spain and the EU; and, indeed, supporting a country that has been shown to be a fish pirate nation which has depredated stocks everywhere in the world, including the North Sea? People were aghast that, in the year of the 50th anniversary of the end of the last war, the British Government should side with Spain against a Commonwealth country, remembering that many Canadians died in defence of freedom throughout the world while the Spanish were in fact giving moral, if not tangible, support to Hitler and the Nazis.
Earl Howe: My Lords, therefore we owe Canada a duty to provide constructive help at times of difficulty. We did not hesitate to do that here; indeed, we have done so by working with the Canadians in order to bring about a negotiated settlement. The Canadian Government know that we have been doing our utmost to help them and they have been kind enough to say so.
Lord Gisborough: My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister say whether reports are true that the "Estai" was carrying illegally small nets and that it had secret compartments for the storage of immature fish? If that is trueor likely to be truewhat arrangements can be made to ensure that the same thing does not happen when the Spanish are fishing in British waters?
Earl Howe: My Lords, the "Estai" cut away her nets in order to avoid arrest by a Canadian coastguard vessel acting outside the NAFO inspection scheme. Canada says that it has recovered the nets and that they do not comply with NAFO minimum mesh sizes. Canada also claims to have discovered a hidden compartment containing illegal catches. The details have not yet been made fully available to the European Commission. However, the "Estai" will be inspected by the Commission inspectorate when she returns to port tomorrow. If the allegations turn out to be true, that
Lord Carter: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the total EU catch in the area of the North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation was 2,000 tonnes five years ago, but has now increased to 82,000 tonnes? Can the Minister say how much of that increase is due to increased activity by the Spanish fishing fleet?
Earl Howe: My Lords, unfortunately, I cannot confirm those figures. However, I shall check them and write to the noble Lord. I can say that it has been recognised by all parties to NAFO that conservation must be the way forward. That is why a conservative total allowable catch for Greenland halibut was this year set at 27,000 tonnes. That was a conservative figure, bearing in mind that known stocks would have permitted a higher figure.
Lord Beloff: My Lords, would my noble friend be prepared to bring to the attention of his right honourable friend the Prime Minister my suggestion that Canada should be asked to lend us its Minister of Fisheries to take part in our own Cabinet, so that we would have someone in Brussels who would stand up for British fishermen as powerfully as the Canadian Minister has stood up for the interests of Canadian fishermen?
Earl Howe: My Lords, I am not in the least apologetic about the way in which our own fisheries Ministers, my right honourable friend and my honourable friend, have stood up for British interests in Brussels. They have done so very effectively over recent weeks. I am quite sure that they are committed to carrying on doing so.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, is it not true that the actions of the Spanish fishermen, both in the Irish Box and in Canada, are bringing the whole of the European Union into disrepute? It seems very odd that people who stood by us from Paardeberg to Vimy and from Dieppe to Normandy should be treated in that shabby way. Perhaps my noble friend might care to change the words of Queen Elizabeth I at Tilbury to read:
Earl Howe: My Lords, I cannot hope to outdo my noble friend's eloquence. However, I should just emphasise to him that the Canadians are important friends and allies; we do no service to them by being, so to speak, starry-eyed about recent events. That is neither constructive nor mature. In the words of the old song, what we have to do is to:
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to promote the reform of the statute law by the repeal, in accordance with recommendations of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, of certain enactments which (except in so far as their effect is preserved) are no longer of practical utility, and to make other provision in connection with the repeal of those enactments.
Moved, That, if the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill is brought from the Commons, Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Bill to be taken through its remaining stages tomorrow.(Viscount Cranborne.)
The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is a privilege to open this debate and to discuss one of the great historic events of this century; namely, the formation of the United Nations Organisation. The world had then suffered the anguish of two great wars and, like many noble Lords, I remember the aftermath of the first war and our belief that it had been the war to end wars. This fervent hope was reflected in the League of Nations, and I recall the meetings which were held in the halls and chapels of North Wales to support the League, and its objective,
The memorial stone was there in every town and village to remember the losses and to support the League of Nations. The collapse of the League in the shadow of the Second World War was the great failure of this century, although it had some secondary successes in the fields of labour and health.
But it was essential 50 years ago that the reasons for the League's failure to prevent war should be learnt, and the leaders set out to study the scene and the shortcomings of the past. We must therefore be grateful today to those who brought the nations together and to those who drafted the United Nations Charter, which provided a better framework than the League's Covenant, both in its general statements of principle and in its procedures in the area of international security. The new charter was ratified on the 24th day of October
But the central question we must ask in this important debate is to what extent the United Nations has succeeded in achieving its objectives over the past 50 years. It is of course a vast organisationthe greatest the world has ever seen. From the 51 countries which formed the United Nations in 1945, the membership today consists of 185 states and they represent 99.3 per cent. of the world's population. The United Nations budget is inevitably huge. In 1993 it exceeded 5.2 billion US dollars and that excluded the specialised agencies. Those agencies have their own budgets and constitutions, and there are 16 of them. They, as the House knows, perform remarkable work, especially in the third world. The United Kingdom has played an honourable role in the development and contribution of the agencies, but there have been difficulties and there have been controversies. I hope that, with the passage of time, these can be resolved and avoided.
As the noble Baroness knows well, Britain was involvedand, I think, understandably involvedwhen we withdrew from UNESCO in 1984. This is one of the most important UN agencies, and I hope we can rejoin it in the near future. We shall be grateful to the noble Baroness if she can let us know how matters stand at the present time, and what are the prospects.
The other point on which I should like the noble Baroness to help us is whether the Government are satisfied that the financial position of the agencies generally is sound. We are most concerned of course with the World Health Organisation, with the Food and Agriculture Organisation and with UNESCO itself. Furthermore, we are concerned that the heads of all the agencies should be seen to be persons of ability, experience and integrity. I know that a number of our colleagues who are expert in this field wish to deal with the agencies and their problems.
Many of us breathed a sigh of relief when the cold war came to an end. We relaxed for a moment and said, "Well, now we can build the peace. We now have the opportunity to build a new world". But, sadly, we were soon to be disillusioned. The United Nations generally and the Security Council in particular have been busier than ever since then. They have also come in for heavy criticism. I understand however from what I have heard and read that there is growing criticism of the United Nations for its poor internal management and control, its bureaucracy and its role in certain world events, that is peacekeeping.
It is argued that the United Nations is insufficiently robust and of diminishing relevance in a dangerous and divided world. We must not forget however that peacekeeping, as we know, has had a number of outstanding successes. Between 1948 and 1966 the United Nations set up 10 peacekeeping bodies which were broadly constructive and successful. As the House
The 16 active peacekeeping forces in operation at this moment, as we debate this afternoon, create the atmosphere which enables and impels people to think again and which saves millions of people from becoming casualties of war. That is an immense contribution. There are other notable achievements which I can only refer to briefly, for example, the United Nations record on decolonisation, on the protection of human rights, on the safeguarding of the environment, emergency relief, education and crucial operations such as the negotiation of ceasefires. All these have been admirable. We must pay a warm tribute to the officials of the UN who are engaged on these critical tasks.
I regret that my noble friend Lord Ennals who intended to speak in this debate is unable to be with us because he is unwell and is in hospital. I hope that he will recover soon and be with us again. There are others here who have made great contributions. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is able to be here this afternoon because he made a notable contribution to the formation of the UN at the very start.
I fear I must now turn to a less encouraging scene; namely, the world security problems and their far-reaching implications. These have changed fundamentally since the cold war ended. Is it not the sad case that some nation states are now disintegrating from within; that the extremes of rich and poor in the world are greater than ever before? The symbol of this tragic reality is the rise in the number of conflicts and in the costs of peacekeeping. I shall give the House some figures. From 1988 to 1994 UN involvement rose from 11 to 28 operations, and the number of personnel engaged from 10,000 to 73,000 with the budget rising from 230 million dollars to 3.5 billion dollarsall this after the end of the cold war. These are some of the disappointing and threatening developments we have to consider in this debate.
We know that the United Nations was founded on the principle of collective security; namely, that the member nations decided to join together and agreed to defend the independence and freedom of nation states. This was a fundamental pillar of the United Nations. But does not the noble Baroness agree that the new world order which is developing after the cold war calls for a new definition of security? I suggest that this would encompass human rights, good governance, economic development and civil security as well as economic security.
At the end of the day security is an issue of justice: justice for the smallest, poorest and most desperate in countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Somalia (which was mentioned in the exchange at Question Time) and many other countries. The real danger is that those concepts, so vital to the future of the world, may remain as platitudes disregarded by the great powers.
The question is whether the United Nations and the international community can do anything to halt these dangerous and destabilising trends. Like other noble Lords, I have read in several articles that the United Nations is at present in crisis. One expert argued that when the main powers are authorised and mobilised by the UN to take action within their direct security interests, such as happened in Haiti and Kuwait, then the United Nations is effective. But is this not a matter of national self-interest? People inside and outside the UN complain that they want more than that to be done. I wonder what view the noble Baroness takes on that attitude.
It is on that central question of preserving security that difficulties arise. Ideally, the UN should provide leadership to resolve the problems in some of the countries I mentioned. Bosnia has shown how immensely complex and intractable some situations can be. But the influence, power and financial resources of the main powers ensure that their influence and judgment control the Security Council, whether or not their judgment is the right one. In the meantime, we must continue to hope that that judgment is the right one. We must also bear in mind that the United Nations is still in its infancy and countries have not yet learnt to subordinate their independence of action to the general welfare of mankind as a whole. Is it perhaps not true that only when people begin to think of themselves as citizens of the world will the United Nations begin to make quicker progress?
We have a duty to consider these problems and seek solutions. However, we must not get too depressed. Some important progress has been made, especially in non-political matters. We must remember with gratitude that genuine hardship and need have been tackled by the United Nations on a global scale far more effectively than ever before.
I am glad to think that over the past 50 years Britain has played her part in that development. So indeed have other countries, not least the United States, whose general contribution I have always admired. The United States is a great nation with a great past and, I believe, a promising future (although I wish that they would make as much fuss of St. David as they do of St. Patrick). I also read with concern this week that the Republican party plans to reduce US contributions to the United Nations. I cannot confirm that but that would be a retrograde step which could have very serious results.
As we proceed to the next century, it is crucial that the United States should be there in the Security Council, and that Russia and China should also be there. Getting them to work together, to understand each other better and to trust each other is essential.
In this debate we inevitably ask whether there is a prospect of a secure and happy future for our grandchildren and for children the world over. The answer is yes, if the United Nations remains active and
Those are great objectives worth working for. I believe that this Parliament, and both Houses, have a record which should place us at the very front of the efforts which must be made in the next few years.
As I said, it is a privilege to place these facts before the House and to press the Government to support those objectives in every possible way. We have our Select Committee which deals with the European Union and its policies. I believe that it is time we considered setting up a Select Committee to look at the work of the United Nations. If we can put our shoulder to the wheel, we can help to create a better world. I believe that to be our duty. I beg to move for Papers.
Lord Howe of Aberavon: My Lords, it is a privilege to be able to follow the noble Lord in this debate. I am sure that I speak for the whole House in thanking him for having chosen this subject today and for the impressive style in which he set our proceedings under way. There was very little in his speech that I would not wish to endorse. I add my particular commendation to his enthusiasm for St. David in preference to St. Patrick.
I should perhaps disclose a special reason for my pleasure in being able to take part in this debate. I was privileged not long ago to be elected president of the committee established to mark this 50th anniversary year of the United Nations.
The noble Lord was right to pose almost at the outset of his speech the question of how far the organisation has succeeded. My experience as president of that committee has enabled me to observe, and indeed experience at close quarters, the remarkable polarisation of opinion about the United Nations, in both directions, and about internationalism generally. For example, in the economic field respect for and expectations of the economic partnership of the GATT seems to grow stronger day by day, even to the extent that it has now been reborn with a new name (the World Trade Organisation) and even, apparently, with luck a new director-general in the person of Renato Ruggiero. We must keep our fingers crossed that that post will at last be filled.
Yet at the same time the United Nations itself may have been, and in the eyes of some people has been, almost daily discredited, however unjustly, by the experience in Yugoslavia. However, even the harshest critics generally, and very rightly, are willing to qualify the severity of their judgment. They are ready, as was the noble Lord, to give due praise to the work done, for example, by UNICEF and to speak well of the work
There is just one field in which, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, pointed out, my noble friend has not yet been able or perhaps I should say enabledto live up to expectations; that is, the field of UNESCO. It was, of course, during my time as Foreign Secretary that Her Majesty's Government decided to withdraw support from that organisation; and rightly so. But it was never intended to be a permanent step. The objective was to secure specific and essential changes in the management of that organisation. There was a clear implication that if those changes were achieved, our membership would be renewed. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, was quite right to ask about the position today. I return to the same question, and quote, if I may, a letter that I wrote to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on 12th October 1993. I wrote:
Therefore I ask with due diffidence: why have we not yet re-joined? I hesitate to conclude that Her Majesty's Government are still unable, 18 months later, to find the £11 million or so necessary. I hesitate to recall that when I was making my first budget I learnt to my astonishment that the estimated size of the PSBR was rounded to the nearest £¼ billion. I am still more reluctant to conclude that Her Majesty's Government are unwilling to take the necessary decision.
With some confidence I hope that we may look for a more positive background to the 50th anniversary ceremony of the United Nations over which Her Majesty is due to preside in Westminster Hall on 26th June of this year. Indeed, I hope that we may look forward to a more encouraging announcement from my noble friend later today. If not, she must be looking to make the announcement on an even more dramatic forthcoming occasion.
The agenda for today's debate is much wider than that. It embraces those all too many areas of international relations where the rule of force has been and still is the strongest rule. Those are the areas in which 10 years ago the world was described by the then Secretary-General, Perez de Cuellar, as "perilously near to anarchy". He rightly laid blame then for the absence of even a minimum working relationship between the five permanent members of the Security Council on the
That decision to return to a policy of co-operation within the United Nations system has been of profound importance to the international community. It offered, virtually for the first time since 1945, the prospect of actually making the United Nations work. Our own country is entitled to take at least some credit for that. It was our own ambassador in New York, in those days Sir John Thomson, who decided to recommence the long-neglected practice of informal meetings of the ambassadors of the Permanent Five. They had not met in that way for years. However, it was as a result of that British initiative that in 1987 I had the immensely exciting privilege of attending the first meeting for many years of the five Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
I wish to join the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in paying tribute, first to Sir John Thomson, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, who also played a part, my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gwydir, and to all those others, before as well as after 1987, who faced the challenging task of representing this country in New York.
In the seven years since 1987, expectations about the role of the UN and judgments about its success have swung from one extreme to the other and back. As the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn said, it is important to place that record in a proper perspective. Yes, there has been a great wave of extraordinary success in recent yearsnot all due to the United Nations. But the United Nations certainly can take some credit, for example, for the end of the prolonged Iran-Iraq War, the success of the operation to liberate Kuwait, the orderly independence of Namibia, and the reasonably orderly elections in Mozambique, perhaps Angola, and even Cambodia. For a time expectations soared. So, too, did the scale of the endeavour. In the first 40 years of its existence, the United Nations established some 15 operations. In the past six years it has set up 17 more.
Of course, there have been huge disappointments as well. There have been continuing unresolved tragedies. Somalia stands out among the many examples that the noble Lord gave of nations disintegrating, and creating their own chaos. So, too, does Bosnia. But we should remind ourselves that suffering there and elsewhere would have been infinitely worse had it not been for the presence of the United Nations. Britain, British volunteers and perhaps above all British Armed Forces, have played and are playing a prominent and effective role; and they deserve our warmest praise.
I close by offering a couple of modest suggestions for the future of the organisation. First, and perhaps most importantly, we should by no means give up our endeavours in this field. On the contrary, we need to do all that we can to extend the rule-based system"the community of civilised states". Even on the darkest days we should not despair of the organisation, still less denounce it or seek to lay blame for all its shortcomings upon the shoulders of those who strive to serve it.
Neither the Secretary-General nor the organisation itself has any more authority or strength than we, the member states, are willing to provide for them. Their strength, and much of their wisdom, is the strength that they are able to borrow from us. That is why they deserve our continuing commitment and support.
My second suggestion is that we should pay more attention to the question, "What next?" Every intervention that involves the use of force, whether through peace keeping or a more large scale military action, is in a sense an admission of failure, a recognition that already there has been a breakdown in the world order.
It is what happened that leads to fighting that we need to understand, and still better to anticipate. Intelligently developed, that can lead to the preventive deployment of United Nation troops before conflict has actually begun. That idea was applied, for example, with some success to deploying UN forces in Macedonia. For the United Nations, above all, the general proposition must be that prevention of conflict is better than cure. That is the right and cost-effective approach.
And so to my last and more cautious thought. We live in times when the basic principles of the United Nations are being judged by the instinctive human reaction to the "CNN dimension" of international diplomacythe call for an instant response. It is clear that in this instant world-wide setting we shall go on being presented with an infinity of opportunities for the law to be mobilised; for the United Nations to be mobilized in support of law. However disappointing it may be to say so, we need to keep that ambition in reasonable check. Theoretically at least, the law, and indeed the United Nations itself, can be deployed to face almost every hazard. The real question should be: can it do so in practice in this or that specific case? Do we have the resources to apply legal remedies to what is actually happening? Do we have the organisation to deploy them in the right way? Do we have the right structure for commanding them? Can we define the achievable limits of the mission that we entrust to our representatives?
For me the most important thing is the need to take great care, while seeking to extend the rule of law, not to test that rule to destruction. We must harness and cherish that precious legal resource rather than risk destroying it all together.
Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, I join the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, for his characteristically eloquent introduction to this important debate. I am conscious that the appropriate person to make the speech from the Liberal Democrat Front Bench is my noble friend Lord Gladwyn, who is sitting beside me. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, for reminding us that my noble friend was one of the drafters of the United Nations Charter at Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco. In fact, he was the Secretary of the first General Assembly of the United Nations which met in the Central Hall here in London. My noble friend Lord Gladwyn was for a short time the first acting Secretary-General of the United Nations.
My noble friend no longer feels able to deliver a speech in your Lordships' Housea great deprivation for it. However, having had the benefit of his wise counsel in preparing my speech, I can assure your Lordships that whatever his physical frailties, with advancing years, his mind is as creative and forward-looking as it ever was in seeking constructive solutions to the challenges facing the United Nations.
It is easy to feel depressed and disappointed at times about the United Nations. The arrival in its early years of the Cold War prevented it from living up to the high hopes of its founding fathers. The ending of the Cold War produced fresh hopes of a new chapter, but the melting of the ice of the Cold War has revealed a world with, in some ways, not less but more tension in more places around the world. Yet the United Nations has come through 50 years of international strife and is still by far the best hope for international peace and for tackling global poverty. At the very least, it can echo the French aristocrat who, when asked what he did in the French Revolution, said: "I survived". Unlike its predecessor, the League of Nations, which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, mentioned, the United Nations has not only survived, but we are inclined too easily to forget the scale of the work it continues to do in face of the dangers and cruelties of the contemporary world. At the last count, the thin blue lines of the blue berets were peacekeeping in 17 countries with 71,000 peacekeepers.
Even if the ending of the Cold War has not produced a new world order, it has, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, reminded us from his experience as Foreign Secretary, produced some substantial dividends. If the superpowers had still been dominating and sterilising the United Nations, I doubt whether the Iraq aggression against Kuwait would ever have been halted; the civil war in Ethiopia would still be going on; Namibia would not be independent; and the Arab-Israel peace process would probably never have got off the ground. However, there are glaring deficiencies in the way
The international community has changed out of all recognition during the 50 years since the UN was founded, and the world is still changing. With the ending of the western European empires and with the dissolution of the Russian empire, the United Nations has become a cumbersome community of 184 states. The original permanent membership of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States no longer reflects the realities of world politics. Germany and Japan have an equal claim to be Permanent Members of the United Nations. What about the populous new nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America?
The composition of the Security Council today is a historical anachronism. The question which ought to be faced in this fiftieth anniversary year is whether it can be reformed. It is difficult to be optimistic about getting agreement for change, but an anniversary of this kind is an opportunity to make the effort to try to review the Charter. I wonder whether it would be worth while Her Majesty's Government considering an initiative, with Britain and France giving a lead in offering to merge their permanent seats in a European Union seat. Her Majesty's Government took a notable lead, to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, referred, in calling a Security Council summit in 1992. That led to further consideration by the General Assembly of the United Nations of the possible reform of the Security Council. I shall be interested to hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, has to say on that aspect of our approach to United Nations matters.
Then there is the question of the reform of United Nations finance. I immediately join with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in their suggestion that the time has now come for Britain to consider rejoining UNESCO.
On the wider question of finances, one of our great ambassadors, Sir Anthony Parsons, wrote a book which was recently published in which he deals robustly with complaints about the cost of the UN. A £3 billion annual peacekeeping budget may be two or three times what it was in the past, but it is still less than 10 per cent. of the British national defence budget and it is about the same as the Anglo-American aid budget to Israel. It is not the size of the budget that is the problem; it is the distribution, with the Americans grumbling understandably about their 30 per cent. contribution to it. The European Union countries provide another 30 per cent., and that leaves 170 member states to meet only 25 per cent. of the budget. Some of the states have the highest per capita income in the world for example, the great oil-producing Arab states. What better way would there be to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations than a fairer funding of the organisation?
Then the question arises of more effective peacekeeping arrangements. The United Nations needs better backing from member states who have so far rejected the Secretary-General's case for earmarked forces to be on call. I noticed a cri de coeur the other day when he pointed out in the case of Rwanda and
An alternative proposal would be the creation of a special standing force, internationally recruited from volunteers, which could be deployed at short notice in roles more akin to police action than to military action. There will be increasing demands for that kind of deterrent preventive capability. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, was absolutely right to draw attention to that point. One of the striking features of our troubled world is that these days the United Nations rarely has to deal with classic examples of international aggression across recognised national frontiers, as in the case of the Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. It has to deal much more with civil war situations, as in the former Yugoslavia. One of the problems is that the dissolution of the Russian empire is taking place in a great land-based empire. The problems of United Nations constructive intervention there are very limited indeed.
Finally, it is vital to remember that the vast majority of the United Nations' efforts lie not in the Security Council and peacekeeping, but in waging war against the hunger and poverty that divide the human race so dangerously. My noble friend Lord Gladwyn has given me some terrifying statistics from United Nations sources. Some 1.4 billion people now live in absolute poverty. That is 40 per cent. more than 15 years ago. In 1960 the richest one-fifth of the world's population enjoyed 30 times more income than the poorest fifth. By 1989 the richest fifth was receiving 60 times the income of the poorest. Against that grim background, my noble friend Lord Gladwyn supports proposals put forward in a magisterial report by two of the great United Nations officials, Sir Brian Urquhart and Erskine Childers.
They believe that the image of the United Nations as an intractably large and reform-defying bureaucracy is greatly exaggerated. They argue strongly for an eventual single centre for the control of all United Nations activities. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, together with the various specialised agencies, should be integrated into the whole United Nations machine under an intergovernmental board. There should be a revival of the post of director-general for development and international economic co-operation, with all the power that was originally intended but was subsequently whittled away.
I realise that these are large reformsthough in this case no revision of the charter would be involved in relation to the kind of organisation that I have described. Neither my noble friend nor I under-estimate the resistance to them or the difficulty of making progress. But progress in this direction is needed if the United Nations is to rise to the challenge of increasing populations and poverty in the third world.
This is the kind of grand design that ought to be debated as appropriate to the 50th anniversary of an organisation on which our hopes hang to master what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has called, in one of his vivid phrases, the suicidal tendencies of the human race.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I am also deeply grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, for initiating this debate. I am honoured that I can take part in it. I am, however, somewhat daunted by Members of this House who have such experience and knowledge in this field, not least the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I am glad to thinkthough I do not think it is a matter of great pith or momentthat the first Assembly was in the Methodist Central Hall; the first meeting of the Security Council was in Church House, Westminster; and I believe that the members of the World Council of Churches assisted in the drawing up of the United Nations Charter and constitution.
On 7th May this year we shall all rightly fall to giving thanks for the end of the war and recall those dark remembered days of over 50 years ago. It is terribly important also that we should look around us with awareness and look forward with hope. I am reminded of the words in "Salad Days":
Looking back, we can see the achievements. They have been mentioned, and I shall not repeat all of them. The United Nations organisation has assisted in the democratisation of several countries. I would mention in particular Mozambique and Namibia, not forgetting South Africa. The UN has negotiated peace, I am told, in as many as 172 conflicts. It has protected refugees and done good work in UNCTAD and in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which is vital to making the world marketplace fair for those in the smaller countries with weaker economies. It has codified and addressed human rights. In the 1980s, through its own agencies, it eradicated smallpox and managed to immunise 80 per cent. of the world's children against six killer diseases. Those are great achievements. The organisation has also acted as an early warning system on the state of the planet. All that has been achieved with a staff of less than the number of health service officials in Wales. That is a figure that can be checked.
Looking back, we have to admit that the world community has not done enough to remove the scourge of war, to defend human rights and, above all, to provide for social progress among the third world nationsor what we probably should call the two-thirds world. Reports from Brandt to Brundtland have warned that there cannot be peace for any, nor well-being for any, unless there is peace and well-being for all. We have a common future or we have no future at all. Keith Suter, an Australian academic, has said that the task of the
Perhaps I may ask at this point whether the noble Baroness can say that Her Majesty's Government are in support of debt cancellation in the year 2000 on the jubilee principleby which every 50 years in Israel of old an effort was made to redress the accumulated imbalance of power and wealth, such as we see in the world today. We see debts incurred by the two-thirds world which those countries will never be able to pay. They spend all their energies trying to service those debts, and the poorest and the most hungry are not helped.
I also suggest that the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations will be a good time to appraise the effectiveness and justice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Even the best institutions require reassessment from time to time. I not infrequently hear a plea from aid charities such as Oxfam and Christian Aid for the reform, even the abolition, of structural adjustment programmes such as those which have damaged Zambia and Zimbabwe and which were the object of criticism at the summit in Copenhagen in March.
To look once more to the future, to the next 50 years of the United Nations organisation, I know that there will be those who argue, with reason, that peace is maintained by defensive alliances and by a shrewd pursuit of the balance of power. That may be so. It is sad that during the years when we were arming ourselves to death and playing beggar-my-neighbour, we were allowing a certain cynicism to grow up towards the United Nations organisation. Snide remarks were made such as, "There are two things wrong with the United Nations organisation: one, it's not united; the other, it's made up of nations". I cannot believe that the abolition of the United Nations would be in the interest of future generations; nor of the smaller nations; nor of the rights of vulnerable minorities; nor of the abject poor about whom we have just heard.
My figures are lower than those previously stated. I shall not quote them. I believe that there are now far more than 800 million people in abject poverty. Surely there must be an international body that provides a link between nationsa table around which nations can gather, and a tribunal where they can plead the cause of justice and peace. It is sad that there has been such cynicism which has caused nations, some of them rich and powerful, not to pay their contribution and their share for the maintenance of the organisation. I agree that the 50th anniversary is an excellent time to appeal to those who are in debt to pay their debts to the United Nations organisation and to support the Secretary General in pressing for payment; perhaps to make the Security Council more representative; and to make the United Nations resolutions more effective.
The Churches themselves are overdue for an assessment of the role of sectarianism, fundamentalism and extremism as the causes of war. I should like to see, certainly in Europe, the Churches ecumenically
Yet, there is another side to that coin. For example, we have to remember that the most ugly regimes of this centurythat of National Socialism in Germany and Marxist Communism in Russiawere both based fairly and squarely on atheism. We should nourish, foster and increase the role of religious people as peacemakers.
In 1993 there was the Parliament of the World's Religions. It called for a commitment to a culture of non-violence, for an economic order which was just, for tolerance and for an equal partnership between men and women. I should like to see that Parliament of the World's Religions called once more to address some of the issues of our day. Above all, could not the proactive, peace-making role of the United Nations be strengthened?
I was nine when the Second World War broke out. All through my young years it seemed as though we lurched from one crisis to the next. As the world of medicine has learned the importance of preventive medicine, do we not need a similar preventive foreign policy among the nations to forfend the outbreak of violence and war? It is too late to express concern when the killing has started. We are all so concerned to maintain our own prosperity. We must realise that that would be constantly under threat if the world is destabilised, anarchic and, as I said, drifting into barbarism.
Before I came to your Lordships' House today, I looked at a video of last Monday's "Panorama" programme. It was frightening, showing the degeneration into sectarian, cultic and indeed mindless violence in certain nations, nations which once had high standards and order. Such a degeneration would make Attila the Hun seem a beneficent ruler by comparison. Those are nations where they have failed governments, governments which admit that they can do nothing about the situation because there is a kind of international underclass which has no stake in the world's future and is prepared to be violent. The enemy is not known and the purpose of the war is not known either.
It is in that kind of situation that the United Nations organisation in the next 50 years will have to play its part. There will be refugees roaming the face of the earth and I am told that 80 per cent. of those killed will be civilians. We know in our own land the need to reinvent civil society. We also need to reinvent an international polity, otherwise we shall revert to a new Dark Ages, in which we shall think that God and his angels sleep. I long for energy to be poured not just into peace-keeping or peace enforcement but into peace-making, which Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali advocated in the Agenda for Peace. Can we be assured that more United Nations diplomats can be available and a separate department for peace-making, led by a deputy to the Secretary General, can be formed?
In front of the United Nations organisation building in New York, there is a sculpture given by Russia of a man turning swords into ploughshares. It illustrates the undying hope that people have for peace and well-being.
Baroness White: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cledwyn, in his excellent opening speech, and the following distinguished speakers have all declared how pleased we are to see with us the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. As Gladwyn Jebb, he entered the diplomatic service way back in 1924 and for the next decades he held increasingly important posts. He played a most active part in setting up the structure of the United Nations organisation. He was the United Kingdom Permanent Representative until 1954, when he was appointed our Ambassador to France. We are truly honoured to have the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, with us today for such an appropriate debate.
In a far more modest way I can claim a minuscule place in history which is unlikely to be shared by more than a few Members of your Lordships' House. On Thursday, 10th January, 1946, I attended the first ever meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations organisation. The United Nations Charter had, of course, been signed in San Francisco in June and was ratified in October. But it was indicative of the leading position held by Great Britain50 years agothat, as the right reverend Prelate reminded us, the first great General Assembly with a number of delegates from all the member states was held here in London.
Members of the Preparatory Commission had come to London in November to supervise arrangements. They decided that the Assembly should take place in Central Hall, Westminster where, as we know, great meetings are still held from time to time. Church House agreed to assist with rooms for staff and committees. The Times reportedit will not surprise usthat mainly because of the difficulty of heating our Westminster Hall, the project to use this historic building, the Palace of Westminster, had been abandoned.
At that time Ernest Bevin was our Foreign Secretary. He led the British delegation. I was then a modest journalist in the Press Gallery in the House of Commons. They were sitting in this House as the Commons building had been blitzed in the war. I made it my business to obtain a press pass for what I knew would be a great historic gathering in the Central Hall.
It was encouraging to learn that the foreign and Commonwealth delegates would receive emergency ration cards and that Colonel Condrington, of the Foreign Office, had received a fairly good response to the appeal to the public to take some of the visitors, including their staff, into their homes, owing to the difficulty of finding unblitzed hotel rooms in London. The General Post Office decided to stamp all letters posted in London during the period of the Assembly with a specially designed United Nations cancellation mark, and so on. Everyone did their best. Just in time, the national flags of the 51 UN members arrived from San Francisco and people hurried to hang them up outside Central Hall.
I am afraid that I cannot claim to have enjoyed the royal hospitality. On the night before the opening ceremony at Central Hall nearly 100 senior delegates, including many of the leading statesmen of the world, were received at St. James's Palace by His Majesty King George VI. He wore his service uniform of Admiral of the Fleet. The next evening, to maintain the position of Parliament, Ernest Bevin hosted a large reception in our Royal Gallery.
At the royal dinner his Majesty's immediate neighbours were Dr. Zuleta Angel, chairman of the United Nations Preparatory Commission and M. Spaak, Foreign Minister of Belgium, who, the next day, was confirmed as President of the new General Assembly. Next to them came Mr. Attlee, the Prime Minister, and Lord Jowitt, the Lord Chancellor, together with most members of the Cabinet. The Opposition senior members were headed by Mr. Anthony Eden and Mr. R.A. Butler. Mr. Churchill was not present. He had decided to make his way, with his wife, to Florida saying, very truly, "I think I have earned a holiday". Indeed he had.
The King was clearly much moved by the occasion. He felt that the eyes of all humanity were on the United Nations Assembly. Comprehension, patience and tolerance, one with another, were the qualities most needed. He concluded the main speech of the evening with these words:
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, for the way in which he introduced this subject today for our debate. In this 50th anniversary year for me the special United Nations date is 26th Junethe date of the signing of the Charter. I am glad that that is to be commemorated in a ceremony in Westminster Hall, that information being provided in the Answer to a Question of mine two months ago.
The House will expect to be reminded of significant events of half a century ago and to hear some nostalgic references. We have just heard some extremely interesting ones from the noble Baroness, Lady White, of the First Assembly in London. I believe that we should also go further back than 1945. The first use of the expression "United Nations" was half-way through World War II. The declaration of the United Nations was on 1st January 1942, soon after the United States came into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbour. That declaration was signed by 26 nations and contained their aims in and after the war against Hitler and the leaders of Japan.
For a moment I pose a question of particular interest to my age group. What was happening today22nd March 1945exactly 50 years ago? It was a significant date for Britain and for our troops in North West
After the commemorations in Normandy last June and with the prospect of VE day in May before us, younger generations may overlook the hard fighting, costly in casualties, in the months between. For example, 50 years ago last month our British troops had been engaged in the fierce battles to break through the Siegfried Line and go through the Reichswald Forest. The San Francisco Conference convened at the end of April, just before the ceasefire in Europe. It led to agreement on membership of the United Nations and on the text of the Charter.
It is worth noting that two Soviet Republics were made separate membersthe Ukraine and Byelorussia as it was, Belarus as it is nowso that a compromise gave three votes to the Soviet Union. At that time a crucial part of the Charter was the veto. The five major powers from the Security Council could exercise it and prevent action by the United Nations. It was of course over-used by the Soviet Union and fell into some disrepute. But its origin was sensible. The main purpose of the United Nations was to prevent another world war. If one or more of the great powers were strongly opposed to action involving armed force, dangerous conflicts could be started by the decisions of the United Nations in the Security Council; hence the veto. It was designed to stop action at an early stage that might make matters worse and possibly lead to the world war which it was the UN's object to avoid.
The organisation started with 51 members, less than one-third of the membership of today. Other noble Lords have worked at the United Nations during the past 50 years. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, as Ambassador, had a distinguished period of service and is to reply this evening. My interest and participation in the debate arise from having been a junior diplomatist in the United Kingdom mission for three years. I went to New York in 1948 when the United Nations was only three years oldin its very early days.
While many disputes and situations have been before the United Nations, there have been two which severely tested the basic system and resulted in United Nations forces being sent to subdue an aggressor. The first was Korea and the second was Kuwait and the Gulf War. As regards Korea, I was at the emergency meeting of the Security Council at Lake Success on the Sunday morning in June 1950, the day after North Korea attacked the South. There were only four of us in the British delegation and I am the only one who still survives. Our ambassador was not there, Sir Alexander Cadogan, who had just retired. My noble kinsman, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, took over several days later and handled brilliantly the later stages of the Korean crisis. I am glad that he is present today. As other noble
The war in Korea was tough and difficult. However, the fact that the United Nations forces prevailed and that the aggressor was forced to give up everything that had nefariously been acquired, probably acted as a powerful deterrent in later years against similar temptations to invade a neighbour's territory. The aggression of Saddam Hussein against Kuwait and the United Nations successful reaction through the coalition force are fresh in our memories. Again, the Security Council system was successful in restoring the territorial situation. The new factor, which was very welcome, was that Russianow the successor to the Soviet Union as a permanent memberwas assisting the United Nations action; the Cold War had indeed ended.
When the Charter was being negotiated, a clause on which most if not all countries insisted was one prohibiting the United Nations from interfering in the domestic affairs of any nationnot just members but any nation. That became Article 2.7 of the Charter. In its early days that clause assumed great importance among the members. It has, however, made it difficult for the United Nations to mediate or even to introduce humanitarian aid in civil wars. In addition, there are situations which have arisen over the years where international action was deemed to be necessary or helpful but world peace was not being threatened. A punitive force to deal with aggression was not needed, but lightly armed and equipped neutral buffer forcessometimes only observerswere needed.
The Charter did not visualise the need for peace-keeping forces or make provision for them. The United Nations nonetheless has decided to introduce that concept. Now, peace-keeping forces are the most widely used troops acting for the United Nations in various parts of the world. Arrangements additional to the Charter have thus been put into effect with general agreement. I have to add that operating these peace-keeping forces has been a delicate and difficult business both for the military commanders and for the directing offices of the United Nations and individual governments.
What of the future in the next 50 years of the United Nations? Although the Cold War has ended, the United Nations must remain ready to deal with wild men in charge of nation states. The states may be small but if they are trying to obtain nuclear weapons they could become very dangerous. The United Nations also has to be alert to detect and forestall international terrorism. Contingency planning is needed all the time in New York for quick responses when military forces or units are needed for various occasions.
The question is asked whether there should be changes to the structure or in the Charter to reflect the comparative influence of members compared with 1945 when Germany and Japan were not members and nor were other countries now influential in the world. One small change was agreed in 1965 to increase the number in the Security Council to 15. There are problems in upsetting a system which is now working and well
Lord Shepherd: My Lords, it is right and proper that we should be celebrating next month the end of the war in Europe and next year, in a similar way, the end of the war in Asia. It is of equal importance that we should celebrate throughout the country and throughout the world, in a perhaps more vigorous and enthusiastic way than we are doing today, the creation and formation of the United Nations.
Fifty years ago some 51 nations signed a Charter. My noble friend Lord Cledwyn read it out. The words stand the test of time and still cause us to feel emotion. Those of my age and my experience, like the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, ask, "Where were we on that day?" High aspirations and high hopes remain. We have not yet prevented war. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, referred to Korea, and there was also the conflict with Iraq. Those were dealt with by the United Nations but mainly, I suggest, through the leadership of the United States.
My noble friend referred to the League of Nations. It collapsed over a period of time. It withered more than collapsed. I suspect that its death was inevitable because of the failure of the United States Congress to support it, although its creation had been inspired by an American president. Without the United States, the League of Nations could not play any effective role for peace.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and others are right about the role of the United Nations in securing peace because the world, by and large, has lived in peace and with increasing security. However, the cockpit of Europe perhaps owes more to the creation of NATO for, as some of us used to call it, collective security. NATO perhaps more than anything has established a peaceful arrangement within Europe. NATO could not have been created or developed, nor could it have succeeded, but for the support and more importantly the participation of the United Nations. My hope is that whatever may be going on there the United States will remain a solid member of NATO. If the military forces of Europe continue to be held together, as they now are, the possibilities of another cockpit are fewer.
I stress the role of the United States because so much has been dependent upon strong leadership. However, the United States has done other things. I spoke of NATO a few moments ago. Perhaps the most imaginative act of the United States was the Marshall Plan which allowed Europe to form itself again out of the devastation of war. I stress the role of the United States deliberately because I sense a wind of changenot Macmillan's one of hope and confidence in Africa but one which bodes danger and ill not only for the
I say a wind of change but I hope that it is only a breath. I have the feeling that there is developing nationalism throughout the world. I say to my noble friends in all parts of the House that when I hear the phrase "national interest" and the declaration that "national interest will govern what we do or say", I begin to wonder how close we are reaching towards the form of nationalism that pertained in the 1930s. I understand what is often meant by national interest; that is, our people. But we have to continue to recognise a responsibility and duty well beyond our own particular interests.
The United Nations has been more than successful in the field through its agencies such as the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the IMF. Perhaps more than any, the IMF has played a major part in establishing the stability of currencies on which world trade depends. World trade is the only way for poor countries eventually to come out of poverty and squalor.
I see the 50th anniversary as an opportunity to go further than simply re-dedicate ourselves to the concept of the United Nations. There should be something more than a function in Westminster Hall. All the great and powerful will be there, no doubt. But when one talks to one's children or grandchildren it is frightening to realise their lack of knowledge of what was the cause of the last war and what led to the creation of the United Nations. I wonder whether it is not too late to see whether, through the national curriculumperhaps in their history lessonsschools can be encouraged to tell their children, perhaps in a wider field, of the importance to us and to them of the United Nations.
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