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Baroness Park of Monmouth: All right. The story illustrates why one needs to be there. It happened in the Congo many years ago, but it could easily happen in Sierra Leone and Angola now and probably in many other countries.
A week before independence in the Congo, I was driving through the African city at night. A soldier flagged me down and said that a comrade of his was in trouble. We drove around the unlit, muddy streets, where there were deep storm ditches on either side, until we found a struggling crowd fighting. I got out of the car, flashed my lights and said to them plaintively, "I am a very bad driver. I can't reverse; if I do, I shall fall into the ditch. Please will you all get up and get out of the way so that I can drive forwards?" As I hoped, they all laughed. Men are always happy to laugh at women drivers. In laughing, they released the soldier
The morning after the mutiny began, the whole place was in uproar. Troops were driving round the streets, firing off their guns. Most of them were fairly drunk. The local British subjects, mostly small traders living outside Leopoldville--as it then was--came to me as the consul and said, "We want you to drive us in a convoy to the ferry so that we can escape to Brazzaville". So I did. We met whole groups of soldiers. I talked to them and we passed through every time until we reached the ferry. There was a nasty look about the place; there were burning cars and broken heads and a general air of unfriendliness.
I got out of the car and walked up to the extremely large soldier in charge, but before I could open my mouth to say, "I am the British consul, these are British subjects. Please let us pass", he looked at me, gave a roar of laughter and clasped me to his bosom. I emerged and said, "Oh, have we met?"--proper English, I am!--and he said, "Yes, don't you remember? You are the one who can't reverse and I'm the soldier you rescued. You were my friend before independence. Are these all your friends?-- because if so they may all pass". I looked at them--I had taken a great dislike to some of them by that time--and said, "Yes, they are all my closest, dearest personal friends". He said, "In that case, they can all get in the ferry, but you can't". I said, "I don't want to--I've got a job to do. I'm staying". So that was that.
That could not have happened if I had not known how that particular kind of African reacts. One must be there to know it. It is no use bouncing in from outside. It is no use expecting anyone to do it but a diplomat who has been around.
Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, I am sure that my noble friend Baroness Park of Monmouth will have recognised how much the House enjoyed her story, not only on account of its content but because of what we have come to recognise in all her contributions: that she approaches such issues with a great reservoir of sound common sense.
The international situation, although mercifully much improved--as my noble friend Lord Carrington pointed out--by the removal of the fear of global nuclear war, is today characterised by a raft of localised conflicts and humanitarian crises, some of a quite horrendous nature. From some of those, we stand aside. Into others we become embroiled, sometimes more deeply than we had originally at the outset thought to have been the case.
When considering what we should do, I believe that there are a number of fundamental criteria which should help to determine the appropriateness of any British response to some event overseas. Those are, first, the extent to which Britain's direct national interests may be engaged; secondly, the possibility of a solution being found by diplomatic means; thirdly, the likelihood or otherwise of other countries becoming
Clearly, we have an obligation to respond whenever our close allies and fellow Commonwealth nations are affected. If their interests are put under threat then it would be right for us to accept that that places a responsibility on us. Where no such precondition exists, we should be cautious before making a commitment to action.
As other noble Lords have noted, everyone is becoming increasingly familiar with the globalisation of national economies. Given the rapid development and increasing exploitation of the Internet, e-commerce and satellite communications, the impact of events, both physical and financial, is quickly felt throughout the world. In those circumstances, there is a temptation for senior government Ministers and even heads of state to respond too hastily to calls for action. In nearly every case it will probably be wiser to guard against being too precipitate, no matter how insistent the media clamour. Certainly, contemplating the committing of our forces should be seen always as a last resort.
If circumstances allow, time should be given to reflection, analysis and consultation. Ideally, our response should be considered and measured. Here I make a plea that we do not entirely bypass the tried and tested ways of diplomacy. Ambassadors still have a vital role to play, both in the analysis and in the resolution of problems. They and their colleagues are on the spot. As my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth made clear, they know the country and they understand the people where they serve. They are best placed to advise on the potential and likely timetable for a diplomatic solution. So long as there is the chance of a dialogue, we should keep open the lines for diplomacy to work.
As each crisis is different, so the means for achieving its settlement may vary. Of course, it is most important that we work closely with other countries and that we form partnerships, for we gain strength in so doing. But we need not necessarily do so with the same countries on every occasion. As situations and locations differ, the alliance which was relevant in one case might need to be composed differently for the next. We should be careful to avoid binding ourselves inextricably to any one predetermined formula.
This is where I have some hesitation about the proposal, shadowy though it may be at this stage, for the formulation of a rapid reaction force. I believe that from the way in which it has been addressed so far, or, at any rate, as the references made in this House so far would indicate, the proposal seems to pose more questions than it provides answers. I am a little apprehensive because of a comment which was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham
My final comment is to urge that we retain our closest possible links with the United States of America. In their eagerness to prove their euro-credentials, Ministers may be in some danger of undermining that one firm bastion for peace. In spite of occasional difficulties and setbacks, the United States of America has proved steadfast in two great wars and in other lesser conflicts since. Our friendship with and dependency upon the United States of America is a vital ingredient in our ability to conduct our foreign policy and our defence activities in other countries. As my noble friend Lord Hurd said, that is true not just of us in this country; it is certainly true of Europe as a whole.
No matter how much we try to tip the scales with whatever extra effort may be made in the European context, it is likely that for a long time to come we shall all rely upon the overwhelming military strength, the logistical back-up, and the intelligence provided by a satellite surveillance system of the United States of America. Therefore, that link is most essential, and I hope that we keep the balance between our respective European and trans-Atlantic interests. Flexibility and balance--the two things seem to be contradictory but, in my view, they go very much together in the context of our coping with problems in the international sphere.
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I fear that it is as depressing as it is realistic to recognise that the skies of this new century are already clouded with conflict. It is true that they are not the great black clouds of a threat of a world war, which they were for most of the second half of the last century. Nuclear weapons, which I have seen for some while as being God's gift to prevent world wars, kept world peace during the great struggle between democratic capitalism and totalitarian socialism. That was a conflict which was in the end resolved peacefully by economic forces: first, by the unification of Germany and, later, by the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Today, the clouds are smaller but more numerous and widely scattered. They can still rain death and destruction on those below them.
On whom, then, can we rely to disperse those dangers? There are only three possible answers: the United States, as the only remaining superpower; or the United Nations, which was designed for that purpose; or a combination of both. Frankly, I do not
Therefore, the primary answer can only be the United Nations. On the United Nations has descended the mantle of responsibility which has been carried by mutual fears and suspicions of the eastern and western power blocs. Yet the record of the UN has so far been confused and unimpressive. All too recently, those on the top floors of the United Nations Plaza in New York seemed to believe that military vehicles can, at the same time, be presented in both green and white paint. They cannot, as Bosnia has so tragically demonstrated. I understand that the lessons of the Balkan experiences are to be considered this weekend at a Ditchley conference which my noble friend Lord Hurd is expecting to attend.
The first requirement is for there to be proper separation between the provision of military forces under UN mandate and the payment for them. The two are hopelessly confused. All members of the UN, including those who provide forces, should subscribe in proportion to their GNP to the fund from which the providers of military forces are reimbursed. The refund should be 100 per cent with, of course, proper, independent audit to ensure that there are no spurious claims.
The second requirement, as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, said, is for the UN to have a proper policy-making capability or, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton, said, there must be more pre-emptive thought.
A third and most urgent need is that there must be proper criteria for intervention. The Prime Minister set out his ideas in a speech in Chicago last April. Again, I believe it is planned fairly soon to have two Ditchley conferences to try to work out something practical on that.
Fourthly, there must be a much better UN administrative capability to follow up once military action has ended. The need for that was demonstrated very clearly by the recent failure to provide the necessary police force to replace KFOR.
Where does that leave this country? I accept the Prime Minister's description of the UK as a "pivotal power". We are that for two reasons. First, as a veto member of the Security Council, we could never be involved in any UN military operation of which we disapproved. I should say how relieved I was when the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, told us before Christmas that Her Majesty's Government have no intention of giving up their UN veto seat in any process of reforming the Security Council structure. That puts the Labour Party and my own party on the same side on that issue. I am sorry that there is still some ambivalence on the part of the Liberal Democrats who mutter about EU representation on the Security Council. However, I am fairly confident that French self-interest would see off that idea.
Secondly, we have military forces with standards of professionalism, discipline, diplomacy, integrity and valour which, taken together, are not surpassed by any other country in the world. Since 1989, there have been 35 UN-led blue-helmeted operations in 17 of which there has been British military participation. In addition, there have been five UN-authorised military operations, which are those where proper armed forces in green paint are provided. Britain has provided forces for all of them.
The most recent example of the quality of our military capability has been in East Timor where only a contingent from the Second Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles almost single-handedly provided for the swift return of more than 100,000 refugees.
The world will increasingly need British military forces. Yet at present the overstretch of international commitments combined with the decline in our domestic requirements means that we run the risk of failing to meet the needs of the world for British military peacekeeping.
Finally, I suggest that in place of the sterile and often hypocritical arguments over an ethical foreign policy, we should recognise that world interests are British interests. That is something which makes us a pivotal power.
Lord Vincent of Coleshill: My Lords, I welcome this opportunity to speak on some aspects of our evolving security and defence policies which, of course, are important supporting elements of our overall foreign policy. Therefore, they have a direct bearing on our contribution to the international situation.
As we move into this new century, it is perhaps also worth reflecting briefly on the effectiveness of our security policies over the past 100 years. On the face of it, they failed us catastrophically twice in the first half of the 20th century, whereas over the past 50 years, despite the largest ever military confrontation in history born of the Cold War, those policies and the manner in which we applied them have secured for western Europe and north America the longest period of peace and growing prosperity in modern history.
But the unique development that has underpinned western security so successfully for over two generations stemmed, I believe, from the formation of NATO in 1949. That not only preserved our vital security interests throughout the Cold War but eventually it played a crucial part in bringing that hazardous military confrontation to a near peaceful conclusion in the nuclear age.
Regrettably, as we have heard several times in this debate, the aftermath of the Cold War and the demise of the former Soviet Union have now led to different security challenges and risks in a still dangerous and uncertain world. Against that changing background, the question today is whether NATO has adapted sufficiently to remain the most effective multinational organisation for underpinning our Euro-Atlantic security interests or whether some other arrangements are now needed.
Having seen the tragic failure of the United Nations' efforts to bring peace to Bosnia for nearly four years of sustained effort, it can only reasonably be concluded that NATO's military involvement in the Dayton peace progress has been a remarkable success. Although serious concerns have been expressed this afternoon about NATO's strategic approach to events in Kosovo and the legal basis on which it rested, there can be little doubt about the alliance's ultimate military success in that campaign as well.
But NATO's involvement in the Balkans has also reminded us that military operations can only be a means to an end. They are not an end in themselves. So before launching them, we should also be clear about their realistic longer-term strategic objectives and the non-military measures through which we shall seek to secure them. That is a complex matter for which today we often seem ill-prepared and ill-equipped, despite the efforts of the United Nations and other international bodies.
The consequence is that our hard-pressed military forces--and they are very hard-pressed today relative to their size--despite their operational success, often find themselves committed on an indefinite basis because no longer-term political, economic and administrative measures have been adequately planned or brought into effect. Both Bosnia and Kosovo eventually demonstrated the importance of the United States playing a constructive role in European security, as she had done, of course, throughout the Cold War.
However, Kosovo also starkly revealed the growing gap between the military capabilities of the United States and those of other NATO nations. Just a few extracts from the current edition of The Military Balance 1999/2000 makes that point emphatically. The United States provided over 70 per cent of the aircraft to the Kosovo campaign, delivering over 80 per cent of the weapons and bearing a similar proportion of its incremental costs.
More widely, there is the concern that European defence capabilities are becoming increasingly inferior to those of the United States, which is not surprising when all the European members of NATO combined last year invested about half as much as the United States in military research and development. Overall, although the decline in defence spending in alliance nations since 1991 has today generally levelled out, the European members of NATO together now spend only half as much on defence as the United States. Regrettably, we in Europe achieve significantly less value for money in that process.
Another key determinant of any enhanced defence capability is the professionalism, training and readiness of the armed forces concerned. As the new Secretary General of NATO, the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, pointed out recently:
The question now is not just whether the recent decisions of the European Security and Defence Identity will actually achieve a genuine autonomous military capability in Europe, but whether they will also start to close the widening gap between the United States and European defence capabilities. If they do not, it will become progressively more difficult for European forces to operate safely and effectively with the United States on demanding military operations.
I believe that those are some of the hard, practical issues that have to be addressed if we are to sustain, with confidence, the remarkable success of our security and defence policies of the past 50 years. In that respect I welcome the brave words in the recent defence White Paper:
Of greater concern is the fact that some other European members of NATO have a much less impressive record of committing the resources needed even to maintain their current capabilities, let alone to modernise their forces for the future. So the European Security and Defence Identity on its own will surely
Unless there is a greater awareness of the risks and realities inherent in the development of the European Security and Defence Identity, to which our Government have now added such impetus, I fear it could have the opposite effect to that intended, with serious implications for our longer-term security arrangements with the United States. That is not just personal speculation on my part. But what I judged to be a serious article in the Wall Street Journal last month clearly pointed out the strategic pitfalls of the European Security and Defence Identity if it fails to meet its highly ambitious objectives which it cannot possibly achieve without a larger overall commitment of resources to defence in European nations.
In the past few minutes I have sought to avoid speaking narrowly from either an Atlanticist or a European standpoint. In reality, if we are to secure dependable arrangements to underpin our security in future, we need to do so, as we have done so successfully for the past 50 years, on a Euro-Atlantic basis. The longer-term consequences of moving away incautiously from that highly effective strategic approach in an ever-more interdependent and interactive world could be far more serious than may be apparent at first sight today.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, I want to concentrate my remarks on South Asia and what is known as the SARC region. As many noble Lords will know, I have lived and worked in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. Most of my remarks will concern Sri Lanka, which I have known intimately for nearly 40 years.
First, I want to speak about the Maldives, one of the smallest countries in the region, a country that has the great benefit of a consistency of government in that Abdul Gayoom and his foreign minister, Mr Fathullah Jameel, have been in power for a great many years, which has given stability to that part of the region.
In day-to-day terms all seems peaceful there, with tourism, fishing and the merchant marine. However, I remind your Lordships that just a six-foot rise in the tide level would mean that the Maldives would disappear altogether as a nation. My first question to Her Majesty's Government is: what are the Government doing today to ensure that the United Kingdom keeps up pressure on global warming? Unless we remain proactive in that field, nations such as the Maldives will cease to exist.
I now turn to Sri Lanka, which is one area of the world where there is significant conflict. It has particularly close ties with this country. I do not know whether I should declare an interest, but I am joint chairman of the British Sri Lankan parliamentary group.
I hope that all noble Lords will give unreserved condemnation to the recent acts of terrorism committed by the LTTE. The recent bomb attacks on 18th December--just before Christmas--injured President Chandrika Kumaratunga, killed 21 people and left 110 severely injured. There was another bomb on 5th January outside the office of the Prime Minister, which resulted in the death of 12 more people and injured another 20. Understandably, such acts of terrorism have, for the moment, stalled negotiations aimed at progressing the peace process.
Despite the bomb attack on the president, in which she lost an eye--I do not need to remind your Lordships that her father and her husband have been assassinated--the presidential election went ahead, which is a true reflection of the strength of democracy in that country. Even after that, in her acceptance speech having won the presidential election, she was brave enough to say,
In that speech she put out a hand of friendship to Ranil Wickremasinghe whom I have known, I guess, for some 20 years. He is the leader of the main opposition, the United National Party. She sought from him a bi-partisan approach to finding a peaceful solution to the problem. Despite the understandable political differences which we have across this Chamber sometimes, there are occasions when we work together. Her Majesty's Government could help in trying to ensure that that message is conveyed to the government and opposition in Sri Lanka. This country is held in the greatest respect in Sri Lanka and I am sure that we can assist in that regard.
I turn to the international situation in Sri Lanka and the international community and ask the question: is it not now time for the international community to put pressure on Mr Prabhakaran to hold talks with the government of Sri Lanka? And, on the invitation of that government, I feel that the international community could play a significant role to advance the peace process.
Those in government who listened to the interview of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth on the World Service, to which I listened, will know that he was involved in the mediation attempts in 1997, and more recently Norway has been involved. I hope I do not express too partisan a wish in my belief that the
In recent days Britain signed the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing. Indeed, I pay tribute to the Government for signing that on the very day it became available for signature. But I hope it is not just a piece of paper but that action will flow from it. In this country it is known that the LTTE is collecting funds. I do not mean a charity day with a flag; I mean protectionism; money being extorted from Sri Lankans living in this country. Unless they pay up, as your Lordships know only too well, their families will suffer. That is the way terrorism works. Many in this Chamber have as much experience of it as I have.
I speak personally now: I find it repulsive that tonight, in Camden, there is an office of the LTTE. That is not acceptable. Given that we passed the new terrorist Act in the last Session, which gives us powers to prevent parties from carrying out, planning or preparing terrorist activities, I hope that high on the agenda--leaving aside the Sikh problem--will be the LTTE. I realise that it is not the responsibility of the foreign minister, but there is evidence that junior officers of the LTTE are seeking asylum in this country in order to keep the conflict going. The Home Office should pay some attention to that problem.
I want to end on a positive note. Sri Lanka is a highly literate society. The people are pro-British. Nevertheless, it is a developing country, though it is not the poorest country by a long shot. However, there are great challenges to be faced in that part of the world. Its growth runs at around 5 per cent a year. Understandably that growth is stifled by the fact that 5 per cent of GNP goes to cover the cost of war. If the United Kingdom, in the international community, could find a solution, it would allow a further 50 per cent growth. That sort of growth is so significant that it would have an incredible effect on all the people of Sri Lanka, be they Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim, Burgher. That is a power well worth striving for. I ask Her Majesty's Government to recognise that this is a problem to which we must find a solution. It is a key problem. It has been going on for nearly 20 years and urgently needs resolving. It is time that this Government played an active role in the international community to get that moving.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I begin as have so many other noble Lords by congratulating my noble friend Lord Carrington on moving this debate, and on having done so in a manner which gives every speaker the possibility of being relevant, while having the opportunity to speak on whatever he or she may want.
I should like to make a few remarks about the recent ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Seattle. As your Lordships will know, that meeting broke up in disarray just before Christmas. As a supporter of liberalising world trade, I am sure that the Government will be at one with me in being concerned and anxious about what occurred. My immediate question for the Government is: what happens now? Where do we go from here? After all, bearing in mind the political and economic advantages which further trade liberalisation could produce and the aspiration of China to join--something I support--great prizes are at stake.
Given the political events which surrounded the Seattle meeting, I am especially anxious to know about the Government's attitudes towards the possible factoring into the negotiations of environmental and labour standards issues. I do not suppose there is anyone in this House who is unconcerned about those matters and who wishes environmental degradation and destruction on vast parts of the globe, nor for that matter to promote bad employment practices in third-world countries. But traditionally we have, rightly, kept those matters outside the scope of negotiations of this kind. Is that still the position of the Government? I believe that it is, but I shall be interested to hear from the noble Baroness confirmation of that point.
Having begun by focusing on a number of specific foreign affairs issues, albeit they are also commercial points, I should now like to move on to the relationship between foreign policy and domestic issues. In the old days it was reasonably straightforward. This side of the Channel was "domestic"; beyond it was "abroad". That was the way it was determined. But it is not quite like that any more. I suppose it began in the post-war world with the development of the European Economic Community, which has evolved and now incorporates the Third Pillar introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht. We are seeing issues which traditionally were domestic being dealt with in a way which echoes foreign policy practice.
It is important to recognise that this is not simply some kind of European racket. As I said, a number of issues are determined in general terms in the forum of the World Trade Organisation. To take but three--agriculture, financial services and intellectual property--these are all areas of policy which have an enormous importance in domestic politics in this country.
In the case of agriculture, for example, it is probably difficult to conceive of a policy which superficially could be more domestic in its effect. After all, it directly impacts on the appearance and the use of something like 80 per cent of the surface of this country. In reality, agriculture and agricultural policy determine the appearance of most of Britain; and yet the trade aspects of agriculture are in essence determined in the forum of the World Trade Organisation. Many of the purely agricultural subsidy and price aspects of policy are determined by the European Union's common agricultural policy, while
While I am deeply concerned about the plight of agriculture at present, in which I am personally involved, I for my part do not think that in general the kind of changes I have described are by any means necessarily for the worse. On the contrary, we are living in a world of greater economic integration, ever more closely linked by information technology. This should, and I believe will, improve the lot of not only our citizens here in Britain but also many other people around the world. If this is the nature of the society in which we live, I am quite sure that we should not turn our back on it.
I believe that this trend will be speeded up significantly by developments in electronic commerce and the use of electronic money. Certainly it seems to me that the advent of e-commerce will do for the ordinary citizen what the abolition of exchange control did for banks and financial services institutions. If this is the case, more and more decisions which affect domestic policy, and which traditionally were exclusively taken domestically, will be taken outside our national jurisdiction and beyond this Parliament's procedures. Indeed, the policies will acquire many of the traditional characteristics of foreign policy developments. After all, as I have already mentioned, we are already familiar with this process from our membership of the European Union. The processes of the World Trade Organisation, which I have mentioned, show that we cannot turn our back on this by simply walking away from the EU, even if it was desirable or sensible in any form to do that--I do not believe that that is the case--for to do so would simply be shooting the messenger.
What Britain's experience of European Union membership suggests to me is that the scrutiny, or lack of scrutiny, of what is being done by our Government abroad in our name is at the heart of whether or not the British public feel at ease with the process. A failure in this regard has a significant political downside, as can be seen from the widespread concern about European Union membership. I do not think that it is any accident that much of the evidence adduced by those who are disaffected comes from the area of agricultural policy which, as I have already mentioned, is, for good or ill, substantially determined abroad. If I can put it this way, "abroad" seems to be getting bigger and "home" getting smaller, even if it is not being reduced into smaller pieces by devolution.
Yesterday on looking at the quality newspapers, I was struck that even on a day which was probably a little light for news, the main story in all if not most of them concerned the proposed merger between two American companies, Time Warner and America Online, creating a commercial entity which has roughly the same output as Russia. That commercial organisation is accessible to everyone in this country
It is obvious that Parliament has much less power and influence over what I might describe as "abroad" as opposed to the power and influence it exercises at home. Therefore, it seems to me to be terribly important both for government and for Parliament--I believe that there is a strong community of interest in this--to find a process whereby they can achieve a state of affairs such that the public have confidence in Parliament's ability to keep tabs on, and to scrutinise, what the Government do abroad in our name.
I do not think it is enough for the executive simply to return from the negotiating halls of the world and say baldly, "Take it or leave it", especially if "leave it" may be in breach of international law or obligations actual or moral into which the Government have entered. At the same time, clearly Parliament cannot mandate our Government--for all the obvious reasons that you cannot negotiate successfully if the other parties to the negotiations know your bottom line. In any event, as we all know, things change in the process of negotiations. Somehow or other we need to evolve an ongoing relationship between the executive and Parliament which is based on a constructive combination of trust and creative suspicion. I believe that if we do not do that, we run the risk that our citizens will become alienated from these quasi foreign policy processes which I believe are so necessary to deliver the full potential of contemporary commercial technology in the present-day world.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, I join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for initiating this debate. I have always regarded him as an absolute guru of foreign policy genius. Over the years I have had many useful and interesting discussions with him for which I have been deeply grateful. He has given excellent guidance which occasionally I have followed!
I very much appreciated the remarkable maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fellowes, especially as regards his visions for the Commonwealth. I recently returned from CHOGM, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in Durban and rejoiced once again at the extraordinary measure of goodwill and understanding and of corridor agreements and discussions which took place there, often between nations which otherwise had little contact. It is a great organisation.
I join in thanking the departing Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, for all that he and his wife, Bunmi, have done over the years for us. I do so partly in my capacity as president of the Commonwealth Jewish Council which he helped so much and on behalf of all of us in this country who appreciate the Commonwealth. It is a great unity and it has recognised that if you want to get understanding to avoid war and to achieve peace you have to talk and understand.
I spent a week during the recent Recess in India. There this vision is not quite the same. I was privileged to meet the Prime Minister and five of his other Ministers. Their position is absolutely plain with regard to talking to the Pakistanis about Kashmir; namely, that there is no point in talks unless they are meaningful and that they cannot be meaningful while the incursions across the border into Indian Kashmir continue and that in the circumstances they will be pleased to talk again--as they were pleased to talk before--when those incursions stop.
This is not entirely the view of the opposition. Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her advisers, in particular Natwar Singh, an old friend of many of us here, told me that while they do not like the Pakistan regime and regard it as a dictatorship, if they want peace they will have to deal with it. However, that is not the view of the majority or of the government.
India is an extraordinary democracy. As has been seen by the frequent changes of government there, if they cannot bring the nation with them their governments will fall. My impression of the present government is that they will be there for a long time and that the Pakistan Government will have to deal with it. It will be for the Pakistan Government to decide whether talks take place because that will depend on whether they will prevent their troops or others from crossing the border.
All that said, I repeat what a marvellous, vibrant democracy India is. If you fly west from India, you do not fly over many others. You cross Iraq, certainly on the map if not in the air. You wonder why its leadership is still in place. You cross Iran. The Iranian Foreign Minister is visiting this country. Iran is not exactly a democracy of the highest order. I and other noble Lords, who have been most supportive on this issue, have tried to persuade the Iranians to release the 13 Jewish leaders whom they have seen fit to lock up and who are likely to be tried and will be lucky not to be executed. So far as we can ascertain, they have committed no crime other than being Jewish.
You then come to Israel. Here I pay tribute to my old friend and sparring partner, the noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond. I was happily astonished that the noble Lord has moved so centrally into the area of discussion and almost of goodwill for Israel and its leadership. Certainly he will recognise that, like India--and, indeed, like Britain, as the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, indicated when he spoke about bringing the British people with us--in Israel if you do not bring the people with you, you lose.
You do not make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies. But if your enemies wish to make peace, they have to make concessions too. I am absolutely certain that the vast majority of Israelis would gladly give up the Golan if they knew that as a result they would gain security and peace. I also believe that the vast majority would say no to their government if they gave up the Golan without those assurances. Indeed, this Israel Government--who, I am sure, are very pleased to have been praised by the noble Lord, Lord Wright--may not survive unless that happens. Israel is a democracy like our own and like that in India, and if you want to get results there has to be give, there has to be take, there has to be discussion and there has to be compromise.
There is one area in which none of us wants compromise, and that is in dealing with international murderers and people who commit genocide. I wish to pay my personal tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Wirral, and to associate myself with every word that he said. I thank him and especially my noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees for the work they have recently done in the sad case of Kalejs. We were all distraught that this man managed to escape from the United Kingdom after his condemnation by the American courts, his deportation from the United States and from Canada and the clear evidence that he was one of the people in charge of the murder squads that massacred thousands of people.
Happily, in this country, in most ways, we have a decent, honourable system of law which accords rights even to those whom we know very well are criminals--as the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, knew when he ordered the deportation of this man if he did not go voluntarily. They are entitled to the kind of justice that the Nazis and their accomplices did not accord to any of their victims. And justice was done when Sowaniuk was tried for war crimes two months ago and convicted.
Many of us were involved in the All Party War Crimes Group, which will be reformed next week. I suspect that our first visit may be to the Australian High Commissioner. My vision of Australia is a very affectionate one because my late wife came from there. But my latest vision is a very unhappy one of its Minister of Justice, a woman, who noble Lords may remember saying, "We are not going to be pressured into a show trial by those individuals or groups", which all Jewish people in Australia and elsewhere took to mean them.
That is not an approach we would have expected from the Australians. We hope that they will indicate just how unwelcome this man was and that they will initiate an investigation. But that is not what they said to us when we went to see the High Commissioner. He told us that his government are keeping the file open and if new evidence is given to us they will look at it. They should go and look for it.
But there is hope. There is hope that the past will be dealt with and also hope that that will be done in the light of the present and future. If we do not look at the past, the future and the present are even more grim than they appear. The genocide that continues today will continue unless the people who perpetrate it know that they will not escape justice. They will not know that they will suffer for their crimes unless they see justice against those who have committed such crimes in the past.
I welcome the work that the Government are doing in this area. I welcome the conference on Holocaust education which will take place later this month in Stockholm, hosted by the Prime Minister of Sweden. I welcome the indications from our Government that there will be a Holocaust Remembrance Day--not because the Holocaust was the murder and massacre of millions of Jewish people but much more to prevent people from forgetting what happens when a country is taken over by a racist dictator; from forgetting what happens to human beings when you allow genocide to affect anyone whose race or religion is different from your own; to encourage people to have decent policies on race relations; and to encourage them to mix, work and build together with people who are different from themselves. That is the international hope; that is our hope for the future. Whether it is in India or the Middle East, or whether we are dealing with war crimes here, that is what we are working for--a better future for us all.
Lord Skidelsky: My Lords, I do not think that anyone who follows international relations with attention can fail to be profoundly disheartened by the turn that they have taken in the last year of the last millennium. I shall not speak about Kosovo--my noble friend Lord Lamont has already done so very compellingly--but I have tabled an Unstarred Question on the human rights aspect of the matter which I hope we shall have an early chance of debating.
I wish to concentrate on the deterioration of our relations with Russia and China and some of the consequences of that for the so-called "peace dividend". I dare say that the hopes of a new international order which dawned 10 years ago were always exaggerated. Some of us who taught international relations at the time were very excited-- although not entirely convinced--by the famous thesis advanced by Francis Fukuyama concerning the end of history. Briefly, he argued that the whole world was converging on a norm of capitalism and democracy. With nothing to quarrel about, nations would have nothing to fight about and therefore we could all disarm. A particularly enticing hope was that, for the
In 10 years we have moved from the end of the Cold War to the beginning of what former President Yeltsin called the "cold peace". Today, the old division between the capitalist West and the socialist East is replaced by the conflict between the doctrine of the international community based on human rights and the classical doctrine of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. Paradoxically, the former revolutionary powers--Russia and China--have become guardians of the status quo, while the old guardians of the established order--the United States and Britain--have become revolutionary.
It would take far longer than I have to retrace the steps by which this extraordinary turnabout took place. At the root of it was the idea that the West had won the Cold War and was therefore free to reshape the world according to its own standards. This directly led to the decision to expand NATO membership to Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia--and eventually even further east--against the strong opposition of Russia and contrary to the promises given to Gorbachev in return for allowing German reunification.
The attempt to reinvent NATO after its original purpose had disappeared culminated in the "new strategic concept" proclaimed by NATO Heads of Government on 24th April last year in Washington. It claimed that NATO's mission had shifted from defending its members against aggression to preventing conflict and managing crises throughout the Euro-Atlantic area and even beyond. Defence would be redefined to include threats of
Of course, the Russian response was entirely predictable. Alexander Lukin, the director of Moscow's Institute for Political and Legal Studies, wrote in the Nezavisimaya Gazetta, on 9th June 1999, that the new strategic doctrine,
At the height of the Kosovo war the Prime Minister quoted Bismarck's remark about the Balkans not being worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. He then said that Bismarck was wrong. I contend that in a world bristling with nuclear weapons and wounded great powers, to be a radical in foreign policy is a very dangerous thing.
I want to end by reasserting the tradition of prudence in international affairs. I believe that it is a profound mistake to believe that we in the West have the right or the power to remake the world in our own image. We must remember that the international community--a phrase which trips so easily off the tongue these days--is not the same thing as the NATO alliance. In terms of population, the NATO alliance is in fact rather a small fraction of the international community.
The Foreign Secretary speaks of an ethical foreign policy. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, talked of a contrast between morality and reality. I would put it rather differently. In a world of competing sovereign states prudence is the highest kind of morality.
There are important things that we can do which are prudent. Genocide has been mentioned this evening on a number of occasions. I believe that it would be perfectly possible to make genocide, properly defined, a ground for military intervention under Article 7 of the UN Charter. I emphasise that it should be properly defined, because if it is not it becomes an unlimited ground. I believe that it would be possible to get the whole international community to agree to that. It would improve state behaviour without offending the maxims of prudence.
In advocating prudence I wish to recall our party to what it is to be conservative in international affairs. I thank my noble friend Lord Carrington for giving such elegant voice to that tradition this evening.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, in his remarkable opening speech, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said that one unwanted side-effect of the end of the Cold War was that the restraints imposed by fear of global conflict had been replaced by the assertion of national self-interest. One example he gave us was Angola. He said that the United Nations had been hamstrung by lack of support and interest by those not directly involved. I would not disagree with that general proposition, but I wonder whether Angola does not show, on the contrary, that some internal conflicts are so endemic that the seismic upheavals in the relationships between the great powers have little effect on them. We have heard two other examples in the course of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, mentioned Sri Lanka and the noble Lord, Lord Janner, spoke briefly about Kashmir.
It is worth recalling that during the Cold War the Soviets backed the MPLA in Angola and the United States supported UNITA whereas now at least there is a co-ordinated attempt by the international community to secure peace. Even so, the war started up again in December 1998 after the collapse of the Lusaka accords and proceeds now with increased ferocity causing immense suffering and devastation. United Nations operations in Angola had to be reduced. The outflow of refugees increased: 20,000 have fled into Zambia since last October. That country already hosts 200,000 refugees from elsewhere in the region. Both sides in the conflict regularly violate the laws of war and human rights. Offences by both the MPLA and UNITA are utterly atrocious.
The United Nations has tried to deprive UNITA of its armaments by an embargo and by curbing the elicit sale of diamonds, the money from which was used to finance the purchase of weapons. The head of the UN sanctions committee, Mr Robert Fowler, is in Luanda this week for discussions with the Foreign Minister and other officials. He is due to report to the Security Council next Tuesday.
UNITA's capacity to wage war has been reduced by the efforts of the sanctions committee and with the co-operation of the international community. Ambassador Fowler is to be congratulated on the progress that he has made so far. He has said that he intends to place further recommendations before the Security Council to make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for Mr Savimbi to sell diamonds and to make it even more difficult and expensive for him to acquire weapons. He wants to obtain better information about what equipment is still being encountered in the field, where it is coming from and how best to stop it. I hope that he can rely on the full co-operation of the United Kingdom in these initiatives.
We can also help by clamping down on the activities of arms brokers operating from UK territory who acquire weapons from eastern Europe and transfer them to African countries, including Angola, which are engaged in these conflicts. The United States and Sweden have better mechanisms for controlling arms
I should now like to draw attention to another aspect of the Angolan problem which has received less attention but which has now been highlighted by the report of the UK- based NGO, Global Witness: A crude awakening: the role of oil and banking industries in Angola's civil war and the plunder of state resources. Global Witness had previously dealt with illicit diamond sales. It cannot be accused of being anti-Angolan when it focuses on an issue that it is equally important for the Government of Angola and for the international community to address.
At the beginning of the Global Witness report there are two epigraphs, one from Madeleine Albright, who says that the disease of corruption has been a critical impediment to the development of Angola. The other is from Mr Peter Hain, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office:
Unfortunately, as this report demonstrates, a great deal of money is being siphoned off from Angola's oil revenues, and the arms deals that are financed by those revenues are also generating huge profits for top military personnel and international arms dealers. Global Witness says that Angola's oil wealth is not improving the conditions of life for ordinary people but is leading to further decline.
Responsible companies like BP-Amoco recognise the dilemma, as their submission to the International Development Committee last year demonstrated. The Chairman, Mr Peter Sutherland, wrote to me last June saying that his board had to ask themselves whether their activities in Angola had greater potential for good than harm, but they concluded that disengagement would not be for the benefit of the people as a whole. Taking a long-term view, I think he is right, but only if corrective measures are taken to put a stop to the evils identified by Global Witness. I acknowledge that, although many of its recommendations are addressed to the oil industry, it would need the support of the international community as a whole if it is to prevail upon the Government of Angola to accept its demands.
The first of the recommendations is that an independent audit should be conducted of the entire Angolan oil sector, and that this should be made a pre-condition of further investment by the oil industry. Will the Government press for such an audit and seek to line the European Union up behind that proposal?
For several years the IMF has been trying to promote greater transparency in Angola's financial management, but the oil industry and private financial institutions providing oil-backed loans have undermined those efforts. One of the mechanisms cited by Global Witness is the Cabinda Trust, which is run by Lloyds Bank in London. That trust receives revenues from a concession that produces 480,000 barrels a day, which represents quite a lot of money. Will the Government consider what influence they might have on the banks to co-operate in refusing to handle funds diverted from Angola's oil wealth and not subject to independent audit and scrutiny by the Angolan public?
The Global Witness report gives a lot of detail about the corrupt elite, whom it calls "the untouchable oiligarchy", going all the way up to President dos Santos, and the leg man who looks after his interests abroad, Elision Figueiredo, who operates as a diplomat without portfolio, based in Paris.
As can be imagined, these revelations have been greeted with a torrent of abuse and vilification of Global Witness in Luanda, which, if anything, to my mind lends credibility to the allegations: c'est la verite qui blesse, as the French say.
The Washington-based Africa Policy Information Centre comments that Global Witness's charges against particular individuals are suggestive rather than conclusive, but that few would challenge the general contention that little of Angola's oil wealth--and it is estimated that it will generate 18 billion dollars over the next four years from new investment--goes to arms and not to government services for the benefit of the people.
In Angola, oil wealth has had a corrupting influence, according to the APIC report that has just been produced. APIC states that the idea of peace through a full military victory is an illusion and that a renewed effort to implement the Lusaka peace agreement of 1994 should be an essential element of any medium-term strategy. I agree with that, but I should like to know what the Government are doing to impress this thinking on the leadership in Luanda. If it is said that we cannot pursue the questions of transparency, corruption and arms deals and at the same time hope to be listened to as friendly advisers in Luanda, I would reply that all of these measures have to be done in concert with the international community: we should not do them by ourselves but we should get the European Union to join with us. This is an essential case for that kind of co-operation between the European Union and the United States, to align their approach and to invite as many other friendly nations to join them as possible. If we could bring the Commonwealth into such an initiative, that would be an added bonus.
Baroness Cox: My Lords, I join every other noble Lord in congratulating my noble friend Lord Carrington on introducing the debate, which allows the discussion of so many important issues of international significance to be discussed by so many noble Lords, with such diversity and wealth of experience.
I offer my own very humble contribution in an attempt to focus on the tragic events in Chechnya because I have been disturbed by many of the media reports which have often been biased and failed to put that war into its wider context. There have been some notable exceptions, for example Anatol Lieven's article in the Independent on December 13th entitled,
I should like to highlight just two of the major problems in Chechnya. The first is internal anarchy and corruption. After the previous war the Chechen people had an opportunity to begin to develop democracy and civil society. Sadly, they proved incapable of so doing. The situation degenerated into near anarchy, with a multitude of kidnappings and killings. The dreadful fate of the three British Telecom engineers who were brutally maltreated before being decapitated is only one example. It is estimated that 1,300 Russians were taken hostage and many were killed.
Then the conflict spread to the armed invasion of Daghestan. The Russian leadership, faced with threats to the security of its own people and threats to its territorial integrity, found no responsible leadership in Chechnya with whom to negotiate. In Vladimir Putin's words:
Islamism is a political ideology rather than a religion. It has been promulgated by the international terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and his accomplices. They have declared a jihad on the West and have been responsible for many of the terrorist attacks killing thousands of innocent civilians. The bitter war in Sudan, responsible for 2 million dead and 5 million displaced in recent years, is caused by the Islamist National Islamic Front regime, which took power by military coup in 1989 and has declared a jihad against all who oppose it: Muslims and Animists as well as Christians; Arabs and Beja peoples as well as Africans. Many Muslims are giving their lives trying to contain a ruthless, brutal, expansionist Islamism, to prevent Sudan from becoming the first Islamist state in Africa and a base for the expansion of Islamism throughout Africa.
It is this Islamist ideology which underlies many other current wars. Islamists extended their militant activities from Sudan to Chechnya, which they chose to be a base for taking over the whole of the Caucasus. Their plan was to take Chechnya, then Daghestan, Georgia, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Significantly, such an escalation will put the energy resources of the Caspian Sea Basin--which is the Persian Gulf of the future--under the control of bin Laden's allies. The war in Kashmir is another example of Islamist expansionism. That expansionism is also a factor in the current escalation of conflict in Indonesia.
As I conclude, perhaps I may ask the Minister two questions. My first question echoes the concerns expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, for a more sympathetic understanding of Russia's predicament. I should like to ask the Minister if the Government will support the Russian Federation in due course, after the conclusion of the war in Chechnya, in helping the people of Chechnya to rebuild their shattered political and physical infrastructure. Secondly, can the Minister give an assurance that the Government are taking the Islamist threat to international and national security sufficiently seriously?
The people of Chechnya did not want the war they are now enduring. The people of Daghestan did not want the war which was inflicted on them last August. The people of Russia did not ask for war. The tragic sequence of events that we have been witnessing in recent months, together with the horrors of other wars such as those in Sudan and Kashmir, are the results of expansionist militant Islamism, which is extending its ideologically justified terrorist activities further and further afield. I hasten to say that I do not in any way implicate the vast majority of peaceable, law-abiding Muslims. However, I suggest that the expansion of Islamism is one of the most important aspects of the international situation in the world today which we ignore or underestimate at our peril.
Lord Owen: My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate, greatly helped by the quality of the opening contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Not for the first time the Government have been given a rough ride on the question of talking about a foreign
It was noticeable that the Government also came under criticism for contributing British forces in two fields: East Timor and Kosovo. I should like to make it quite clear that I believe that in both cases they were right to make those commitments. It would be hard to make a serious contribution to the Commonwealth and ignore the fact that Australia was playing such a leading role in East Timor. It needed and wanted some British support. Furthermore, at a time when we are understandably becoming increasingly Euro-focused, it is extremely important that we should also demonstrate that we have a wider perspective. For that reason, it was important that we heard such an interesting speech about the serious problems that are developing in Indonesia.
As regards Kosovo, I believe that we may be forgetting a little what the situation would be like now in that country if there had been no intervention. This winter would have been a horrendous winter and everyone would have demanded action. By then NATO would have looked weak and impotent and lost support. I bow to no one in the strength of my criticism of the Rambouillet Conference. Not much attention was paid to that conference because we went straight into a war. I believe that it was one of the most dangerous and damaging international negotiations to take place for a considerable period.
Just before Christmas, I chaired a conference in Rome on Kosovo. I attended somewhat reluctantly because I had tried to step back from the Balkans. The picture was a sombre one. Most of those involved are now in Kosovo. The unanimous view was that NATO had to do more in the field of policing in Kosovo because of the serious situation relating to law and order and the fact that the human rights of the Serbs were not being protected. I understand the reluctance of the military to become involved in it, but a small police force is needed to try to bring people to justice and to carry out other tasks. I fear that for some time it will be necessary for the military to take a more active role.
I am tempted to go into many other aspects relating to Kosovo. All I say is that we must face the reality that fairly soon a Balkans agreement will be required about Kosovo becoming independent. That agreement cannot be reached without the involvement of the Serbs, for no other reason than that the Russian Federation and China will insist on it in the Security Council. Sometimes one forgets that the fighting was brought to an end as a result of a compromise on the Rambouillet demands and some very good diplomacy by the United States. The United States realised that the military situation was getting out of control and in
The biggest issue that faces us in international affairs has already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Hurd: European/US relations. He rightly stressed its dimension, which I totally accept. I should like to deal with the European defence and security initiative. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, spoke far better than I can, and with much better information, about the military aspects. I agree with everything that he said. I shall refer to the political aspects. I have been in favour of this initiative from its infancy under the Treaty of Maastricht to its development under the Treaty of Amsterdam and the Prime Minister's commitment at St Malo with President Chirac. But these are very dangerous waters. If we get it wrong, perhaps in terms of the structure of our relationship with the United States, particularly Congress, or the European Union, we shall pay a very heavy price.
It was understood at St Malo that the new defence identity would not come under the European Commission, European Parliament or European Court. I have said before I think it was a mistake that since that last speech the Government have ignored the view of some that there should be a separate defence pillar and have placed the initiative under the second pillar: CFSP. There are arguments in favour of it but also some problems. Common foreign and security policy inevitably involves the Commission. How could it be otherwise? One cannot have a foreign policy that ignores development policy or trade aspects. But we have always drawn a distinction between foreign and defence policy. Although the two mingle together, I believe it is crucial that this defence policy should remain intergovernmental. Does the noble Lord wish to intervene?
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