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Baroness Amos: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, knows, we remain concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe and, in particular, about the rule of law there. The question of international election observers has been raised with the Government of Zimbabwe through the Commonwealth and the European Union. I am aware that the United States has raised the matter with the Government of Zimbabwe, as have SADC members. As the noble Lord said, we want to see international observers in Zimbabwe in good time in order to ensure that the violence and intimidation which have marred other elections do not mar the forthcoming election. However, I must say to noble Lords that, if the Government of Zimbabwe refuse to invite international observers, the job will be made much more difficult.

With regard to the issue of food aid, the Government of Zimbabwe confirmed to donors on 23rd October that their country faces a major shortfall in maize and they appealed for donor support.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, considering that the Zimbabwean Government may well not give the lead for official observers to attend, will the international

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community consider sanctions? I do not refer to sanctions which are aimed at aid to the poorest people in Zimbabwe but to sanctions which, for example, freeze the bank accounts of those in the regime and their families.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we continue to talk to our international partners about a range of measures in relation to Zimbabwe. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, will know that last week the EU agreed to move to Article 96 consultations. I agree entirely with the noble Lord that, in considering in the long term any move to sanctions, we need to put the interests of the people of Zimbabwe first. Concerns have been expressed in the region about the possible economic impact of such action. Therefore, with regard to the noble Lord's specific point about the freezing of bank accounts, we would certainly not want to take any kind of unilateral action. We want to work with our international partners and to see exactly what happens over the next few weeks.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, does the Minister agree that we have gone through this before and that, on the previous occasion, the only effect of putting observers in place was to give a sort of skin of respectability to a regime which is clearly corrupt and where the chances of a fair election are nil?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, perhaps I should remind the House that Zimbabwe is an independent country. We are doing all that we can through working with our international partners, our partners in SADC, the Commonwealth and the European Union. We are also working closely with the United States. It is not clear to me what action the noble Lord considers that we in the United Kingdom can take that will prevent the Government of Zimbabwe behaving in this way.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it not a fact that the SADC countries have laid down the most detailed rules for promoting fair and free elections and for the processes leading up to those elections? Is it not also the case that Zimbabwe has signed the document agreeing those rules? Therefore, is there not an opportunity for the other countries of southern Africa, with much more vigorous support from us than has been the case thus far, to put pressure on Zimbabwe to develop some kind of fair elections before frenzied looting and the collapse of the rule of law finally destroy that country completely?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I entirely agree with that. SADC leaders visited Zimbabwe on 10th and 11th September, and they shared their concerns with President Mugabe. They intend to have a follow-up visit. At Abuja we discussed our concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe with our Commonwealth partners. I myself participated in the follow-up visit. We made our concerns clear to the Zimbabwean

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Government. Until they begin to put concerns about their own people first, I say again that we cannot force them to have international election observers.

Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that there are severe dangers in the current situation? The current difficulties have been exacerbated by the strident calls for severe action, but no one has spelt out what that means. Does she also agree that views have to be expressed to President Mugabe perhaps more stringently than previously, and especially through his friends? One difficulty that my noble friend has as a Minister is that she has to work through the Commonwealth. Frankly, the statement by the Commonwealth mission that recently went to Zimbabwe makes it clear that it received conflicting reports of violence and intimidation. That does not work. What mechanism—I ask this genuinely—can there be to find out precisely what is happening, instead of relying too much on hearsay, as often happens?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend that there are dangers in the current situation. I am aware that, to use my noble friend's phrase, the friends of President Mugabe have been involved in discussion and conversation with him for some time. On my noble friend's suggestion of a mechanism to deal with conflicting reports, a UNDP mission will go to Zimbabwe in mid-November. It will spend considerable time in the country finding out exactly what is happening on the ground. The intention is that that mission will include representatives from the EU, the Commonwealth and the United States. My hope, which I believe is shared by the international community, is that when its report is published, any concerns that it expresses will be seriously taken up by the Zimbabwean Government.

World Trade Organisation

2.53 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they are doing to persuade the World Trade Organisation, when agreeing and applying its rules, to incorporate appropriate environmental and social criteria on an equal basis to economic criteria.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the Government have long recognised the importance of launching a new trade round—especially so since 11th September. We also recognise the importance of environmental and social considerations in the development of economic policy. At the WTO Ministerial Conference, we are supporting the European Union's call for clarification of the relationship between WTO rules and trade measures to protect the environment. We are also

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seeking clearer confirmation of WTO participation in an ILO-led dialogue on the social dimensions of globalisation.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Does she agree that it is disappointing that the text of the negotiating agenda in Doha does not specifically address either of those issues? How will the Minister judge the success of that round of talks? If the agenda fails to address the concerns of the 49 poorest countries, it will have failed to address the concerns of environmentalists and the concerns in which she said the EU is interested. It will then be hard to see for whom the agenda has been a success.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, no one is making a secret of the fact that we face some extremely difficult negotiations at Doha. I would not wish to leave any noble Lords under any illusions on that front. It is true that the United Kingdom would like language in the Doha declaration that actively supports the work of the ILO. In particular, we want a cross-reference between that and the WTO, which has a strong regulatory system.

On environmental issues, I hope that the noble Baroness understands the enormous difficulties that we face with regard to developing countries. There are questions about multilateral environmental agreements, about eco-labelling initiatives and about the precautionary principle, all of which are important to the EU and all of which are regarded as protectionism under another name by developing countries. The way in which we negotiate on those issues will be hugely important. At the same time, we must keep a balance with developing countries with regard to their serious worries about the way in which the WTO is developing.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, I notice that my noble friend used the word "globalisation" in her Answer. For what it is worth, my experience—I have had recent discussions in India—is that we could help to remove some misunderstandings between the North and the South if all concerned acknowledged that the title "World Trade Organisation" is becoming something of a misnomer. The WTO is engaging increasingly with rules on direct investment—in other words, with rules on many of the activities of multinational corporations. Those rules will embrace a mutuality of interests with reciprocal rights and responsibilities in a broad field.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I make it clear that when we speak about developing countries, we are speaking about a wide variety of countries that, within themselves, have differing interests. For example, the differences between Africa, south-east Asia, South America and the Caribbean are very clear. My noble friend is right to say that international trade is much more complex than the mere arrangements surrounding the exchange of

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goods. I point out, however, that the WTO is not a global governing body—no member government, so far as I am aware, want it to be. For example, in relation to the aim of including negotiations on the environment, it is not for the WTO to set environmental standards but to try to clarify the relationship between environmental protection and trade rules. We have enough on our plates for this trade round without being twice as ambitious by trying to change the WTO's name.

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