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Lord Annan: My Lords, before the noble and gallant Lord sits down, and speaking as I do as an "airy-fairy academic", would he not agree that he can see no possibility of this country using nuclear bombs in any circumstances? It could only do so in agreement with the United States, and if that is so why do we not leave it to the United States at least for the immediate future? We would therefore give the lead in exactly the course that he has been advocating.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I wish to focus on three areas where there has been positive development since the House sat previously. The three areas are anti-personnel landmines, tied aid and debt. The issue of landmines has been debated frequently in this place. However, often discussion has led to stalemate as no real progress ever seems to have been made. Real progress was made, however, at the beginning of this month at the Ottawa Conference. The ultimate goal of that conference was a total ban on the use, sale,
However, the British Government seem to have done everything in their power to delay the progress made at Ottawa. Indeed the position of the United Kingdom has not moved an inch since April 1996, and hardly at all since the international community began to deal with the landmines problem. The United Kingdom now runs the risk of becoming virtually isolated within the Ottawa process, just as it was during the United Nations negotiations. The added risk now is that the UK might be disregarded. The Ottawa Conference has begun a parallel fast-track initiative towards a total ban in December 1997. Should the UK not meet those criteria, it will be left far behind. For those of us who find these weapons morally repugnant, that has to be unacceptable. The United Kingdom should be the first country to react to Canada's challenge and declare a total unilateral ban on the production, stockpiling, export, trade, transfer and use of all anti-personnel mines, and should be the first to support Canada, positively and actively in the process of drawing up and discussing the new treaty, and should pledge now to sign the treaty in December 1997.
I wish to refer the Minister to a matter which I know has caused a great deal of concern recently; namely, an article in the Independent on Sunday of 20th October which alleged that a British company, Londesborough, is suspected of exporting anti-personnel mines. I know that the Government are initiating an investigation into those allegations, but will the Minister assure us that the Government will publish their findings?
I now turn to the second issue of tied aid. The Overseas Development Administration has recently published a review of the United Kingdom's aid-tying policy . The review was funded by the ODA and comprised three studies, the results of which were extremely interesting but came as no surprise to those of us who have been attempting to untie all aid. It is suggested that it would be marginally beneficial to the United Kingdom economy bilaterally to untie all aid. However, a far more significant effect would be achieved if all aid was untied unilaterally. I believe it would be extremely difficult to convince other countries within the European Union to undertake that as they stand to gain less from the untying of aid than we do. However, it would be helpful if we could make a stand and take the lead in untying all aid. The report recommended that the untying of aid would be beneficial to the United Kingdom economy and would be especially beneficial in reducing the cost of administration for the ODA. It is extremely gratifying that the Government have undertaken that survey and I hope that they will act upon its results.
The third issue I wish to discuss is that of debt. It would be wrong not to support the stance taken recently by the Chancellor in taking a lead on debt negotiations. He should be supported in his efforts and in all the work he has done on that matter. However, concluding negotiations is one thing, but as the Trinidad terms have
I wish to finish on a positive note. Recently I was in Estonia which also has a government comprising a main element of Liberals. When I returned to this country I was interested to discover that the know-how fund is stopping its funding to Estonia not for any negative reasons but because Estonia is not seen as being in need of that funding in the future. That is the whole point of aid. We saw nightmare images on the television at lunchtime as regards the destabilisation of the Great Lakes region. That leaves one with the impression that aid is almost hopeless. However, I refer to the case of Botswana which is not mentioned in the press. For many years Botswana was a recipient of aid but for the first time this year it is considering contributing to funds.
Lord Kingsland: My Lords, my sole reason for wishing to intervene in the debate on the gracious Speech today is to say something in support of the recent attempts to establish a permanent international criminal court of justice and to urge my noble friend the Minister to support those attempts in the context of her work in the United Nations. However, before I say something about that, I should say that I was struck--as I believe were my noble friend Lord Jellicoe and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver--by the strength with which the Minister made a commitment to the expansion of NATO to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. I support that commitment; but it has to be realised that the 20th century is littered with security commitments that have not been met--most recently, I am sad to say, in relation to the sovereign state of Bosnia.
There is no doubt that if we make a commitment to extend NATO to those countries, they will believe it; and the consequences of our not delivering, in circumstances where the treaty obliges us to deliver, will be catastrophic for them. If we are to make that commitment, therefore, we must mean it. But do we mean it? We are a democratic country. To what extent are we to debate this issue before we enter into a commitment? This is a serious abrogation of national sovereignty--some might say it is more serious than the abrogation of national sovereignty that is involved in the commitment to a single currency. I do not much like referenda; I find them a rather unattractive continental import. I have supported the Prime Minister's commitment to a referendum on the single currency, despite my doubts. But is this not a matter that at least merits the same serious treatment as that of a single currency; and would that not include, in the context of our commitment to a single currency, a referendum if we were to expand NATO? I make those remarks not to embarrass the Minister but simply to underline the seriousness of what she has said in this afternoon's debate; and the seriousness for us as a nation which is every bit as grave as any financial commitments we might give in the context of the European Community.
My remarks on the permanent international court of justice are not in any way original. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Shawcross, in the 1940s, following the adoption by the United Nations of the international convention on genocide, which declared it a crime to seek to destroy or to destroy an ethnic or religious group, made an important contribution to the attempt to incorporate the Nuremberg principles into an international treaty and have them administered in the form of a permanent international court of criminal justice. Alas, that came to nothing following the development of the Cold War. However, in 1989 Trinidad and Tobago again proposed the establishment of a permanent international criminal court of justice. As in 1948, the United Nations tasked the International Law Commission, which is a subsidiary agency of the United Nations, to draft an appropriate protocol. It had completed its work by 1994. The matter has been further considered on two occasions by a specially constituted preparatory group which is now due to deliver its final report.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give this initiative their utmost and total support. There are great matters of detail to be resolved. What crimes should be included in the convention? Should it be limited to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; or should it be extended to other offences such as international drug trafficking? Who should be allowed to initiate cases in the court? There are some suggestions that the United States Government are thinking in terms of limiting the right of initiative to the Security Council. I think that that would be a mistake. One of the great successes of the international criminal court established to deal with war crimes in the former territories of Yugoslavia has been the independence with which Judge Goldstone has been exercising his mandate and the success that he has had in pursuing investigations in a professional and thorough way, and bringing issues to indictment. I hope that any protocol on the international criminal court of justice would follow the model established by the Yugoslav court.
The most difficult issue to confront is this: once one indicts, how does one get hold of the accused? That was not a problem in Nuremberg; but it is proving a problem in Bosnia, and it will prove an even more challenging problem if the court's jurisdiction extends worldwide. I have no simple solution beyond the fact that once an individual is indicted by the court there should be an obligation on every single system of municipal law in the world to pursue that person if he does not give himself up voluntarily, and, if necessary, have him declared an outlaw. Beyond that, I do not pretend to have any easy solutions today to that most difficult problem.
All I ask is that Her Majesty's Government support the initiative and pursue it with the utmost vigour and determination. If evil men know that they will be called to account personally for their evil acts it will constitute a great deterrent. Why should the biggest criminals in the world get away with it? I can envisage no moral reason for allowing that situation to continue. The best example that we can set for the establishment of this
Lord Chalfont: My Lords, I should have liked to follow some of the threads which have been so importantly drawn in the debate--the Middle East peace process, the future of the BBC's World Service, the future of the United Nations, and so on. However, I cannot let this occasion pass without commenting on the important speech of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver. As he knows, I have always had a great admiration for the noble and gallant Lord both as a distinguished soldier and as a writer on military matters. However, there is one subject upon which I have always disagreed with him and I feel that I must express again that difference of opinion today.
The noble and gallant Lord was kind enough to send me an early copy of the report of the Canberra Commission. He urged me to take it seriously; indeed, he reminded me that when I first entered the political world in the 1960s it was to take a part in international negotiations on arms control and disarmament. I must tell the noble and gallant Lord and your Lordships' House that I do indeed take this report very seriously. I go further and say that I regard it with some alarm. In some respects I believe that it has some dangerous implications. I make that judgment on the basis of an experience in arms control and disarmament of which the noble and gallant Lord was kind enough to remind me. The history of disarmament negotiations for the past 30 years and more is a witness to the very real dangers that can arise from over-optimistic approaches to the problems of nuclear weapons. I wish to use the short time at my disposal this evening to caution against the enthusiastic and uncritical endorsement of what I regard as a utopian concept of a nuclear weapons free world.
It seems to me that the report of the Canberra Commission--I have studied it carefully--advances many of the arguments which have been familiar over the years through the activities of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other so-called peace movements. I need hardly say that I do not suggest for one moment that the approach of the noble and gallant Lord is in any way comparable with this. His motivations are different. Indeed, it is true that the report of the Canberra Commission to which he has contributed to a large extent has a degree of intellectual rigour which is lacking in the somewhat simple-minded approach of the peace movements and single issue campaigns for nuclear disarmament. However, I make a point which I hope that the noble and gallant Lord will accept: that the dangers are the same whether those arguments are advanced by distinguished military and political figures of the status and distinction that he has mentioned this evening, or by Monsignor Bruce Kent or the ladies of Greenham Common.
Let me begin by saying that the report of the Canberra Commission strikes me as being, and I hope that I do not exaggerate, a classic example of a logical fallacy. It starts with a vintage example of the assumption of the
That is an argument. It may be a widely held view but it is by no means universally held. It has certainly not been proved and it does not therefore provide a sufficient basis from which to construct a convincing and logical argument. The report continues:
Again that is an argument. It is an opinion sincerely held by some people but strongly contested by others, including me. It is, for example, arguable that the possession of nuclear weapons, despite what the Canberra Commission may say, may be a deterrent against use by others, not only of nuclear weapons but of other weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological agents. It may even be--I say it with respect to the noble and gallant Lord; no one has yet proved it although some will suspect it to be true--a deterrent against the aggressive use of manifestly superior conventional forces.
Yet the report goes on to argue from what I regard as somewhat unproven and debatable assumptions that as the only purpose of nuclear weapons is to deter their use by others that purpose would disappear altogether if nuclear weapons were eliminated. That sounds very simple, very clear and almost incontrovertible. But even if we ignore the logical fallacy that lies behind it which I have already pointed out, the conclusion is still unsafe. The value of possessing nuclear weapons would disappear only if they were eliminated and--a qualification that was missed by the Canberra Commission--we could be certain that their elimination was permanent and irreversible. That can never be. The genie cannot be forced back into the bottle. It is not possible to disinvent nuclear weapons or the method of making them. We cannot consign them to some historical oubliette and at the same time erase permanently the knowledge of how to make them. Therefore, we have to address ourselves, as the Canberra Commission did, to the central problem of verification of any agreement of this kind.
The Canberra Report concedes on several occasions that the elimination of nuclear weapons will not be possible without the development of adequate verification. Yet there is no evidence in the report to suggest that adequate verification is either technically or politically possible. In my view the Canberra Commission asks for a very considerable leap of faith when it suggests that,
The difficulties of verifying any treaties, but especially nuclear treaties, are well known to anybody who has been involved in the problems of nuclear testing or nuclear arms control. One important problem
Another problem concerns the difficulty of locating and identifying modern nuclear weapons which, in many cases now, are small and very easily concealed. The fissile material cores, especially if their manufacture has involved the radioactive isotope tritium, are even easier to conceal than the bombs themselves. Indeed, the Canberra Report reaches a very significant conclusion; namely that,
With that I wholeheartedly agree. The risk of what is known in the jargon as "breakout" would therefore be enormous in the scenario outlined by the noble and gallant Lord. In this context the conclusion of the Canberra Report is that,
Before I conclude, I should like to make a brief reference to the approach of the Canberra Commission to the moral issue involved in nuclear strategy. In arguing the case for a nuclear weapon-free world, the commission makes the following statement:
The noble and gallant Lord repeated that point in his speech. I regard that as a dubious, unsupported proposition. It begs important questions which have exercised the minds of moral philosophers and theologians ever since the nuclear weapon was invented. Most of us are familiar with the standards of proportionality which are an essential element in the Christian doctrine of the just war. According to that doctrine the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear adversary would be widely considered to be immoral and indefensible. On the other hand there is a powerful body of opinion among Christian authorities, which I have taken the opportunity to test, that the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is governed by a concept known as "conditional intent" which leads one to conclude that, while the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear adversary would be immoral and indefensible, the threat to use them is not, especially when that threat is used to deter a potential aggressor.
There is no time today to examine that complicated argument any further. I mention it only to illustrate the dangers of simple and optimistic propositions about the use of armed force in general and specifically the possession or use of nuclear weapons.
In conclusion, I do not believe that the permanent elimination of all nuclear weapons is a realistic possibility given, as I said, that the knowledge of how to make them is widespread and there can never be any guarantee that, in the future, some malevolent or mentally disturbed dictator might not choose to ignore or defy any international agreement which might exist.
Even if it were possible and practical to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely, I remain to be convinced that it would be desirable short of universal general and complete disarmament under international control--a goal which is as far off today as it was when I first made a speech on this subject in 1962. With the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction--not only nuclear but chemical and microbiological--and the ability to deliver them by ballistic missile, which is in the hands of a great number of countries today in the Middle East and Far East, the possession of nuclear weapons remains a powerful deterrent against the use of other forms of weapons of mass destruction. Whatever the Canberra Commission in its wisdom may say, they remain a powerful deterrent against the possible use of overwhelming conventional force in a nuclear-free world. It may be true to say that there would be a reluctance to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear enemy, but no potential aggressor could ever be certain of that. As everyone who has been involved in the strategic argument knows, it is the very uncertainty of the deterrent posture which is the strongest element of deterrence.
There seems now to be the emergence of a new phase of anti-nuclear campaigning which should be a matter for some concern. In this context I ask the Minister, in replying, to say what verification safeguards will be put in place to ensure the integrity of the comprehensive test ban treaty. As the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said recently in Geneva, this treaty represents a genuine sacrifice for the United Kingdom as it limits our ability to develop new weapons or modernise our existing stocks. Personally, I doubt whether that is a price worth paying. Even if it is, the comprehensive test ban treaty will certainly need the highest standards of verification. I hope that Her Majesty's Government can reassure the House on that point.
The Government's stated policy on the nuclear weapons issue is to maintain a minimal nuclear force consistent with national security requirements and the UK's commitment to NATO. I hope that that position is unchanged and that the Government will demand a much more rigorous analysis of this complicated issue before following the noble and gallant Lord, the Canberra Commission and others down what I regard as a dangerous and uncharted road.
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