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Lord Haskel: My Lords, the United States imposed tariffs on steel imports last year, which have been declared unlawful under WTO rules. The WTO has also declared tax breaks allowed to large US exporters to be illegal. Then there is the dispute over GM crops which we discussed earlier today.
The EU and the US are talking, and we shall have to see what happens, but my point is that having a mechanism and a forum to deal with such disputes is too precious to be abused or sidelined simply because there are other disagreements in the UN. We just have to work harder at it. I know that my noble friend Lady Symons and her team are working hard to ensure that the conference in Cancun in September will be successful. It is important that she should not be distracted, because, if successfully concluded, the WTO Doha development agenda will have an impact way beyond Iraq. It will have an impact on the world's economy, on prosperity and on peace and security. Success at Cancun would be a major step in putting those differences in the Security Council behind us.
In the end, most of the world's urgent challenges can be tackled only through international institutions: the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan; poverty in Africa; the fight against terror; weapons proliferation; and, of course, the Middle East process. No country, not even the US, can tackle those matters single-handed; it needs allies, as the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said. International organisations are the fulcrums of power. In order to exercise that power, we must all nurture those institutions, however imperfect they may be.
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, I suspect that few members of your Lordships' House could arrange and then initiate a debate on the future of the world, and I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness for managing to do so at such a critical point in our international relationships. Following the example of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, I apologise to the House for missing the beginning of her speechfor similar reasons; perhaps less baroque but credible none the less. It is also a pleasure to take part in this debate because it has included the maiden speecha speech both wise and aptof my noble friend and colleague the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle.
The term "balance of power", to which the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, referredor, rather, the lack of ithas produced much of the context that we are now addressing. From time to time, historians and political scientists use such a term as a recognisable phenomenon by which big powers are checked and are not allowed to develop excessive influence. A balance
I wonder whether such a Weltanshauung is any longer possible, because of the combination of two factors: the economic dominance of the world by the United States and the fact that the EU has a strong economic and political unity, albeit in some tension at present, with no real military strength but with a fine track record of overseas development. I do not mean to be critical; I am trying to be descriptive. With the position of the United Kingdom, nervously marooned in the middle of the Atlanticwhich is perhaps where we belong, as part of Europe yet tied to North Americaa discernible gap in world politics as to what Europe can deliver becomes all the more frustrating.
Those remarks are not intended to be anti-American. I lived in the Mid-West 20 years ago for five months as the visiting professor at a university, and met the youth and young graduates from all over North Americaa testing encounter as well as an enjoyable one. Only last Thursday I returned from a
In that context, our Government's policy of, shall we say, tempering United States enthusiasm, is deemed by many, although not all, to be an appropriate responsethe defence being, "Who else would do it?"although how it will turn out in future is hard to say. As a nation, we probably find that role easier because we once had an empire. But we need to be more aware than we often are of how the big and powerful, or the small but once upon a time powerful, are perceived by small countries.
Lithuania is a nation in which I gather that the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, has his roots. I visited the small Lutheran Church in the west of Lithuania the weekend following 9/11, and I found the way in which people in a nation that has suffered so much from different kinds of imperialism over the centuries viewed the events in New York sobering. Terrible, they said, yes, but big nations occasionally need to be stood up to. They did not condone what the terrorists did; they were simply offering a small nation's perspective. As the world has more small nations than large ones, we must take that perspective on board.
However, political, economic, military and, we could add, cultural power is not enough either to change the world, if we wanted to, or to explain the complexities of globalisation. For many key issuesfrom international financial stability to drug smuggling, global climate change, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destructionthose powers alone cannot ensure success.
I draw those remarks together with three observations that appear to me to have a bearing on the context of post-Iraq conflict as a test case for world stability. First, unless Saddam Hussein's lasting legacy is to be a severe, if not near-fatal, weakening of the EU, to the point where it has no serious political role on the world stage, relations within the EU must be renurtured. I think we are aware that, beneath the rhetoric associated with the French President, there are many in France who want this to happen, and who understand our mid-Atlantic position as not an "either/or"that is to say, either us and the EU, or us and the USbut, dare I say it, a good, Anglican "both/and".
Secondly, the role of the United Nations needs to be reinvigorated so that it does not, by default, go the same way as the League of Nations did in the 1930s, with tragic consequences: in effect, a talking shop ignored by the serious players. That is why we need to get the UN into the political saddle over Iraq, over and above its more morally obvious role in humanitarian aid. International institutions can so easily shrink in
Thirdly, the role of the Churches and faith communities, to which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle referred in local terms, needs also to be recognised more fully, as they are members of already existing international networks that can be forces for stability and change. The most obvious is the Roman Catholic Church, with its specific face in the form of His Holiness the Pope. Others, for good theological and historical reasons, are less personally focused and more dispersed. The Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, which includes the Church of the Province of South Africa, led by the Archbishop of Capetown, and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. The Lutheran World Federation has contributed considerably to post-perestroika recovery in parts of the former Soviet Union, not just the Baltic nations. The list is endless and includes the role of religious communities on a whole range of issues, such as debt relief, HIV/AIDS and trade, all of which reflect positively on the phenomenon that we call globalisation.
Lord Brett: My Lords, many noble Lords have expressed their appreciation to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, for initiating the debate. I, too, can express my appreciation with great sincerity, as I have two interests: I am the chairman of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation, which is a United Nations agency. I am also a member of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, which is co-chaired by the presidents of Finland and Tanzania. At our fifth meeting of the World Commission this weekend in Geneva, lo and behold, we are looking at recommendations that we will make to the international financial institutions
First, we have had 30 dialogues, internationally and nationally, to find out what governments, employers, trade unions, civil society and faith organisations feel is wrong with the world in the context of the globalisation that has taken place over 20 years. There are many criticisms of the United Nations system. The half of the world's population who will go to bed tonight having earned no more than 2 dollars a day will not lie awake worrying about the veto, the General Assembly or the Security Council. They worry about health, jobs, education and water. Let us not forget that one fifth of the world's population has no access to clean water. It is for that provision that they look to the United Nations system.
We talk about the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, mentioned other agencies, such as the World Health Organisation, UNESCO and UNIDO, which are part of the United Nations family. The only element that is not part of the UN is the World Trade Organisation. In our 30 meetings, criticism tended to be directed at the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. The rosy view of the WTO expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, is not one that I have heard echoed too often in the developing world.
I have also gleaned that, in the past 20 years, globalisation has weakened the nation state and strengthened multinational enterprises, of which there are some 65,000, with 850,000 foreign affiliates employing some 54 million people. The UN is an international system geared to security, through the Security Council and General Assembly; economics, through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; and trade, through the WTO. We do not have a social policy pillar. A series of United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organisation, UNCTAD and the ILO, deal with different aspects of social policy. But, in decision-making at international level, social policy comes far down the ranking order. That is why some of the social policy decisions that we have made internationally have been a dereliction of the creation of the kind of society that we want.
I therefore hope that the World Commission, when it publishes its report at the beginning of next year, will have something to offer the system of international order. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and those who are cautious and say that we should not try to rewrite the charter. The ILO's charter, for example, refers to "the chairman", and some of my colleagues want it changed to a non-sexist title. We resisted opening the 1919 charter, because to do so would be to invite everyone else to tamper with other parts of it. Despite all its imperfections, the UN system needs reinvigorating, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth said, not reinventing.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, in addressing this important subject I make clear that the views that I express, while my own, as always, are also the policy of the Green Party, of which I am a member. When I was young, and for a long time after, I fell into the trap of believing that the sooner we achieved world government the better. Some in your Lordships' House may still believe so, but I hope not. I have come to believe that I was incredibly naive. I now believe that we should strive for government at the most suitable level for the subject dealt with. In Roman Catholic social teaching that is referred to as "subsidiarity". But that is a most misleading term, as it implies power travelling down, whereas the reality should be power travelling up and being given to more complex bodies only where essential.
In a complex world with almost instant communications, it is essential that power be given to bodies such as the UN in some matters. The main one of those is the preservation of world peace. Not the least of the recent crimes of the United States is that it has gone far to destroy the power of the United Nations to perform that function, just as it destroyed the power of the League of Nations 80 years ago. We have been accomplices in that later crime and must now do our best to repair the harm that we have done.
Another area where a supra-national body is needed is the environment. With climate change now an established fact, the challenges it offers can be met only by large-scale international co-operation. The same is probably true in the field of health. But in most other areas international bodies given large powers do more harm than good. Although there have been signs recently of change for the better, the World Bank has on the whole in its history done exactly that. In its misguided endeavours to impose corporative capitalism on all parts of the world, it has destroyed indigenous agriculture in the third world and driven millions from the countryside to the cities to become landless, workless and, it must be said, lawless.
Another body which has done immense harm, I believe, but which shows no signs of amendment is the World Trade Organisation. Perhaps I may pick out just one major area in which, to me, it seems to be a completely evil influenceI use the word advisedly. I select animal welfare. I believe that there is not a single religion in the world or any philosophy that has ethical pretensions which does not regard kindliness to our fellow creatures as essential to our full humanity. But we live in a world in which the European Union hesitates to pass laws in which it fully believes for fear that the WTO should decide that they are in breach of free trade and are therefore illegal.
I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and the Liberal Democrats, for having made this debate possible. I also thank the speakers who have illuminated us today particularly the speeches made by the noble Lords, Lord Judd, Lord Hannay of Chiswick and Lord Brett. I hope that it may be a step on the road to re-establishing the United Nations and to restructuring all international bodiesor, as has
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, this has been a very interesting and, in many ways, outstanding debate. I have listened with fascination and I have learned a lot. I say this as someone who teaches a 20-lecture introductory course on the structure of the international system. Therefore, I am forced to delve deeply into some of these issues.
The acceptance around the Chamber has been that the international order has already been transformed in a great many ways and that we now need to adjust, as far as we can, international institutions and international law to this transformed world. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to the passing of the Cold War. I was sitting in Moscow two days ago listening to people being nostalgic about the good old balance of power and the days when we kept order in the world. But that has gone.
We have a proliferation of new, weak and very often corrupt statesthe majority of states in the United Nations. We have had a doubling of world population with all the impact that that means in terms of the movement of peoples. There is both the unpushed movement of peoplepeople trying to better themselves from the poor world in the richand forced migration, on which my noble friend Lord Russell spoke so movingly. There has been the revolution in communications and these astonishing years of growth in the global economy which so far have avoided a depression since 1945.
Let us recognise that we all now depend upon the international economic institutions, from the G8 through to the IMF, to ensure that we do not slip back into a deflationary spiral, which it would be very easy to do if governments, central banks and economics ministries fail to get together. Many noble Lords have recognised that the UN Charter, international law and sovereignty and non-intervention do not entirely fit the world we now have.
A number of noble Lords have spoken about the problem of American hegemony and that we now live and are likely to go on living for the foreseeable futureat least in military termsin a world of Pax Americana. We may agree with my noble friend Lord Dahrendorf that the United States is the best available hegemon that one might have. One has only to think about the possible alternatives to recognise that we are better off with the United States than anything else. It was the great legacy of President Roosevelt and of a previous generation of Americans that they gave us the structure of international institutions from which we now benefit so much. This was a deliberate effort to build institutional constraints upon American power.
But it is there. It is there built inside the current Administration in what one must call the bitterness of the disputes between the Pentagon and the State Department and, so I understand, of the personal relationships between Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell. The National Security Strategy, mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, sets out a definition of the world in which hard power is all that counts, the United States is justified in operating pre-emptively and, as a number of neo-conservatives would say, the United States is the righteous powerthat religious language is often usedand is thus entitled to reform the world in its own image.
As some noble Lords have said, within the United States thankfully there are many self-correcting mechanisms of American politics and of American society. Business interests know very well that the United States needs international economic institutions. It needs the World Trade Organisation. The US Administration, even while Mr Rumsfeld is so busily attacking the need for these, is demanding that the International Atomic Energy Agency be allowed to conduct intrusive inspections in Iran because there are some questions about the Iranian nuclear programme.
The US Administration is also taking the whole issue of genetically modified foods to the World Trade Organisation and asking NATO to take over nation-building and security in Afghanistan. My noble friend Lord Russell commented that people in America do not like to be hated; they like to be liked. There are other self-correcting mechanisms in any liberal democracy which mean that we should be engaging as actively as possible in the American domestic debate.
One of my criticisms of the British Prime Minister over the past 18 months is that while he has worked extremely hard to provide public support for the US Administration and private influence in Washington, a major element was missing; namely, to persuade the American Congress and the American public that they must take this transformation of the world more seriously and that they must take the need for multilateral co-operation more seriously.
We need, all of usdiplomats, scholars, parliamentarians, members of governmentto be playing a much more active role in what has become an astonishingly introverted Washington debate. We certainly need to get out into Atlanta, Savannah, Texas and Louisiana from where America is now being run.
I would cite for reform the irresponsibility of so many weak and failed states inside the UN and other international institutions, the caucus politics through which chairmanships are designated and elected, the scandal that Libya has been elected chair of the UN Human Rights Commission, and the previous scandals over UNESCO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. I could mention many others. All those demonstrate that, as the British Government and as people working in this area, we ought to be criticising the current structure and asking how it should change. Of course there will be deep resistance to change, and some of those changes will have to be effected through other ad hoc institutions such as the G8 group of countries, now G9although I understand that the Chinese have already been invited to attend part of the coming G8 meetingthrough the EU as it gradually enlarges, through the OECD as it gradually enlarges, and through initiatives such as the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development, which is struggling hard to introduce political conditionality into the principles of economic and social development in Africa.
What is the British role in Iraq? The immediate British role should be to insist that the phrase, "a vital role for the United Nations", is carried through in the wake of those in Washingtonthankfully not the whole of the Bush Administrationwho wish to prevent the UN assuming any authority whatever. That means putting UNMOVIC back in and insisting that the other half of those promises made by President Bush in Belfast regarding the roadmap for Israel and Palestine is followed through.
The British Government have a great opportunity to work with other European states, if only they can learn to work together in a multilateral world and nothere I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Desaiin a multipolar world. After all, four members of the UN Security Council are currently members of the European Union, or five if one includes Bulgaria as a candidate state. Some 40 per cent of the UN budget comes from EU members, along with 50 per cent of the UN peacekeeping budget. Collectively, the European states punch well below their weight.
How the European nations should use their influence within these institutions is a delicate issue, as is criticising the current American approach. Of course we need to promote our valueswe are interested in promoting the values of western democracybut in that role we need to avoid the "white man's burden" approach being called for by the Washington "neo-Conservatives" in persuading the nations of the developing world to move towards our values. We should not push or bully them.
Finally, what is the role for the House of Lords? I suggest that there may be a theme here for a sessional committee. If we accept what was said by my noble friend Lord Dahrendorf in his speech, now is the time to produce building blocks, new ideas on intervention and the rule of law. If we accept the power of ideas in getting things under way, then we may have some small role to play in pushing forward the case for strengthening the structures of international order and for transforming international institutions, in spite of the enormous obstacles to reform and the prejudices and vested interests that block the way forward.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, for securing a debate on this very important subject and for what I thought was a tremendous opening speech. It gave us much to kick off on and to discuss as the debate continued. I should also like to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle on his maiden speech. Not only was it very thoughtful, but I am bound to say that it was also thought-provoking. We look forward to hearing more from the right reverend Prelate in the future.
Our debate has spanned a wide range of global challenges. If a central theme has emerged from the many interventions, it is that of course the world is evolving and the international order has to change along with it. In a sense that is always true. It is also always true that such international institutions as we have must also change if they are to remain useful and relevant.
The international institutions are certainly capable of change. Over the past few decades, new circumstances, ranging from the end of the Cold War to an increase in concern for the environmentso ably argued by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitleyhave fundamentally altered the international landscape. Bodies such as the European Union and NATO have changed significantly in terms of their membership and role in order to reflect that.
Many of those institutional changes have come about through what might be described as an evolutionary process rather than through radical restructuring. That incremental approach should not undermine either our real ambitions in regard to the tasks that lie ahead for the international community or our enthusiasm for making some of these changes rather more quickly.
We are faced with modern threats and uncertainties. For many, collective security is at the top of the international agenda. New threats have emergedterrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, rogue and failing states and massive human rights abusesall of which require a new response from international bodies. Reforms aimed at enhancing international security, but which are also aimed at our prosperity and sustainable development, are absolutely crucial. The United Kingdom has been at the forefront in addressing these threats, refocusing the international agenda from traditional concerns
Perhaps I may say that the noble Baroness, in her very powerful opening speech, concentrated heavily on the perceived shortcomings of the United States. I do not suppose she will be surprised that I have remarked on that. I understand why she sought to concentrate her remarks in that way, and of course it was a theme taken up with considerable passion by my noble friend Lord Judd. However, I was left with the impression that both of those superb interventions about the most powerful country in the worldwhile many players on the world stage matter a great deal, the United States is most powerful in economic and military termsleft many questions unanswered. The problem for us all in the international community is that, while we have the institutions that reflect the will of the nations as we move into the 21st century, we must also have the means in the international community to enforce that will. We must enforce it diplomatically, through international law and, if it should come to it, militarily as well.
The noble Baroness was unhappy about the response of the United States to the outrage this morning in Saudi Arabia. I take that up because it is something that has happened today. However, we have to acknowledge that the greater part of enforcing the will of the international community does fall, over and over again, to certain nations of the world. That needs to be addressed. In this respect, I agree with many of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford. He addressed the question of how we should enforce the international will when our diplomatic institutions fail us. This hugely difficult question has to be addressed if we are truly to get to grips with the new world order.
The statement of fact about the pivotal role of the United States was very clearly articulated by the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf, in his well-argued speech. It provided much of the energy in our debate this afternoon. However, when listening just now to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, I was not sure how much of his argument was directed at the current Administration in the United Statesor perhaps even at certain individuals within the Administrationand how much of it was a fundamental argument about the institutions and the culture of the United States itself. On a future occasion that may provide us with a very interesting debate.
I want to take up some of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, about Iraq. I did not quite understand her comment about the draft United Nations resolution not addressing the point about the interim authority in Iraq. It is addressed in operative paragraph 9 of the draft resolution. Perhaps we can discuss that issue later.
I should also say to the noble Baroness that, while I absolutely acknowledge that there is a very difficult situation in Iraq and huge shortcomings, the almost unremittingly gloomy picture she painted was not
I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that it is the role of the British Prime Minister to intervene in US thinking about its own attitudes. It is the role of the British Prime Minister to put forward British Government policy and to try to persuade others to our view. At that, if I may say so, he does rather well.
The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, was particularly concerned about the role of the United Nations, a theme taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and my noble friends Lord Desai and Lord Judd. We remain committed to UN reform to make the organisation more effective and, indeed, more representative of the modern world. We support an enlarged Security Council, expanded to 24 seats, including an enlarged membership of both its permanent and non-permanent parts.
The United Kingdom has backed Germany, Japan and India in their bids to become permanent members of an enlarged Security Council, and we have said that countries from Latin America and Africa should choose two further permanent members. So, in answer to the point raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, we very much support these reforms.
The reforms, of course, will require the approval of two-thirds of the Security Council, including the P5, if they are to go forward. No such agreement exists at present. We shall have to work very hard to secure that support. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that the United Kingdom wants to see a strengthened UN based on real political resolve to deal with rogue states and proliferators.
But the UN's pre-eminence can be maintained only if there is genuine political will to tackle the new threats we perceive in WMD and rogue states. The Security Council needs to adapt to these threats. It is not only a question of institutional reform but of really addressing the issues. I strongly agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth in that regard.
My noble friend Lord Desai raised the issue of the veto. That will no doubt be considered in any enlargement of the Security Council. However, it is unlikely that there will be a consensus for change. The UK believes that the veto should be used with restraint and in accordance with the principles in the UN charter.
There is much in the UN Secretary-General's reform initiative with which we can work. I can assure my noble friend Lord Judd that we are by no means complacent. We recognise that a great deal more work needs to be done in regard to the problems of UN bureaucracy, over-manning and the budget. Perhaps
As to the question of the mechanism for responding to human rights abusesor the "just intervention" articulated by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, my noble friend Lord Desai and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastlethe United Kingdom participated very actively in the debate on humanitarian intervention which followed the Kosovo conflict. We drew up principles to guide the Security Council in deciding when to intervene but we were unable to secure the agreement of other permanent members. So I am sorry to say that, with some reluctance, I have to agree with some of the caution expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay.
The debate has been reinvigorated by the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, an initiative of the former Canadian Foreign Minister. The principles published last year on the responsibility to protect are now on the agenda for the United Nations General Assembly. We intend to work closely with our Canadian counterparts to try to build consensus around the difficult issues referred to by the noble Baroness.
The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, was quite right to caution us that the circumstances of these conflicts are all different. I agree that the reasons for intervening in Kosovo were in many ways far more ground-breaking than the issues surrounding the more recent intervention in Iraq. The emergence of the doctrine of overwhelming humanitarian need or overwhelming humanitarian disaster now seems to be a well-accepted basis for such intervention.
As many noble Lords have remarked, some of our institutions are already adapting. The UN is not the only multilateral forum that matters and it would be a shame if we were to allow that impression to prevail. Of course the UN matters in economic terms and in what it is able to do through its various branches and diplomatically, but it has much to learn from the developmental changes of other organisations.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made an important point about NATO's role. NATO is indeed an example of how reform is working. At the Prague summit in November 2002 NATO leaders agreed to transformation of the alliance to meet new threats, including the threats posed by WMD and terrorism. NATO agreed to develop more flexible forces, able to deploy more rapidly wherever they are needed. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, the recent decision to enhance NATO support for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan exemplifies NATO's relevance and its ability to take on new tasks. So NATO is already engaged in a process of reform.
We are also working hard to match the EU's undoubted economic and political muscle with a security role, without of course cutting across NATO's role. We have put into place institutional arrangements which guarantee that the EU will not duplicate NATO's assets and will act only when NATO as a whole is not engaged.
The EU operation in Macedonia, which took over from NATO on 31st March this year, is a good demonstration of how the EU can have a real security role in an area where it is already very active on other fronts. The integrated EU effort in the Balkans has also been strengthened by the deployment of a civilian police operation under the new ESDP arrangements.
More widely, we are working to increase the EU's influence on the international stage through a strengthened common foreign and security policy. I recognise that for many noble Lords this is a controversial matter. The aim is not that we should always agree on every aspect of foreign affairs or give up our right to pursue a national policy. But where we do agree, we should be able to exert greater influence by working together on the world stage.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that what happened over Iraq was a blow to European decision takingof course it wasbut Iraq is not the whole picture. Noble Lords should reflect on what the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said about the recent example of the EU contribution to the publication of the road map. The EU, in partnership with the United States, Russia and the UN, has played a crucial part in offering at least some hope of a way forward in the Middle East.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Desai and the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that we need new structures. But we can have them through reform of existing structures if we have the courage to reform them properly. In the case of the EU, both the unprecedented expansion through the accession of other countries and the discussions on the convention will provide us with further means of doing so.
As to regional organisations playing an increasing role in the maintenance of international security, in our own region the OSCE is a very good example of an organisation that has adapted to a changing security agenda. It did so in meeting the challenges in the Balkans. It now takes a more comprehensive approach to security, addressing the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, economic and environmental co-operation as well as more conventional military issues.
This is not a question of Europe v. the United States or the countries of the Middle East. Multilateralism is growing in the world in the form of evolution of regional bodies. I ask your Lordships to reflect on that. Look at what is happening in Africa. The African Union, established last year, has an explicit mandate to maintain peace and security among its members. Its intervention in Burundi is a sign that it will take this responsibility seriously. Similarly in West Africa, ECOWAS is playing a major role in maintaining the fragile peace agreement in Cote d'Ivoire.
I ask your Lordships to think about Latin America and Mercosur, which is well on its way to building a single market in an area four times the size of the continent of Europe, with a potential market of 200 million people and a joint GDP of more than a trillion US dollars.
I ask your Lordships to look into Asia and the UN-ASEAN agreements and dialogues that we have going there with summits, inter-regional links, and discussions on important issues such as HIV-AIDS. It is important to look not just at Europe, the United States and the Middle East, but at the whole of the rest of the world and the way in which those countries build multilateralism through their regional relationships.
Let us consider, too, the important organisation of the Islamic conference, which promotes solidarity among its 57 members and consolidates their co-operation in economic, social and scientific fields. Again, that is a very important issue.
I am pleased to say that my noble friend Lord Desai, the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford and the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, concentrated very heavily on the World Trade Organisation. At Doha, WTO members agreed that the new trade round should result in benefits to all member countries. Surely the international community learnt some lessons from what happened in Seattle. A great deal of work was done to get this round launched. I agree with my noble friend Lord Haskel, to whom I am grateful for his support, that we have a testing time ahead. The agreement that we are seeking is vital, not just for us in the developed world, or for those in emerging economies, but for developing countries.
Most of your Lordships talked about the importance of tackling poverty. If this trade round can only halve the tariffs in the world, we could increase world trade by 400 billion dollars. The World Bank has said that 150 billion dollars of that would be trade with developing countriesa sum that is three times what the whole world spends on aid. Trade is a much better, long-term, sustainable answer than just giving aid, as my noble friend Lord Haskel recognised.
My noble friend Lord Brett was right that millions of people around the world do not have access to much of what we all take for granted. A debate such as this would seem very far from their daily lives. Their agenda is about food, water, fuel and health.
However, the key, as pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, is agriculture. The noble Baroness was quite right. Of course, the United States, Japan and the EU must all address the issue, but let us be frank. The EU is the worst offender. We subsidise our agriculture more than any other trading bloc in the world. We subsidise every cow in Europe to the tune of two dollars a day. We subsidisegive in aidone dollar a day to the 1.8 billion people in the world who do not have enough to eat. That is a disgraceful statistic.
I am sorry, but I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. I think that WTO is the way to change that position, not a way of sustaining it. It is the one mechanism that we have that will make a difference. I agree so strongly with the noble Earl, Lord Russell, about not reverting to protectionism. I hope that his speech will be read by many of our friends in Europe.
We have talked about the international financial institutions, which have a very important role to play, as evidenced by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Dahrendorf. The millennium development goals give a clear mandate for working to eradicate poverty.
The UK is very active in the financial action task force and similar regional bodies such as the eastern and southern Africa anti-money-laundering group in promoting international anti-money-laundering standards. Those are important points about which I have to speak briefly, as I do about the important role of the OECD on issues of bribery and what individual governments do to try to deal with corruption at home.
I was taken by the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, about opening up the G8 to developing countries. I agree with much of what he said. He may be interested to know that developing countries are being asked to the G8, and so too, is the director general of the World Trade Organisation.
I cannot close without saying something about the importance of the Commonwealth. I think that it is doing rather well. It is already engaged in the process of transforming its international role following the 1999 call by the Prime Minister for a high-level review. The result has delivered a 21st century Commonwealth that is leaner, better focused, more effective, and which has not duplicated the work of other international organisations. It is important to make that point.
I shall write to the noble Earl, Lord Russell, about the IPR report. I agree with him that there is more to be said about that, but I hope that he will forgive me, as he was the only one of your Lordships to raise that issue, if I deal with it separately in a letter, which I shall place in the Library.
I shall say something in closing, not from the brief given to me by the department, but from my own thoughts. That is what is called courageous. Of course the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, is right. There is a new situation and it is enormously difficult for us to focus on how to make our multilateral organisations work better, accurately to reflect what the nations of the world think, yet being able to deliver. Although the noble Lord, Lord Howell, addressed that point, he was one of the few of your Lordships who did so. There is a problem about delivering on fine words. The noble Lord is raising his eyebrowsI do not mean his fine words, but the fine words of the international community.
On occasion the international community talks big but is not prepared to follow through on some of the issues. I hope that in trying to look more broadly than the United Nations, NATO and the institutions that are closest to our hearts, together with the Commonwealth, we can recognise that multilateralism has taken a formidable hold. Countries are coming together and seeing what can be done if they open the door to engagement instead of slamming it and saying that as they do not agree, they will not talk.
I refer to the regional organisations in Asia and Africa. I could have said what was happening in the Caspian; I mentioned Latin America where we are seeing a move towards multilateralism. Working with that is hugely important. I thank your Lordships for a tremendously interesting debate.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, it is often a pleasure to take part in debates in the House of Lords, and occasionally it is an absolute privilege. This was such an occasion. For me, it was a great privilege to be here and to listen to your Lordships. I believe that there were some remarkable insights and ideas, which would take far too long for me to repeat, but I am grateful to have heard them.
I should also say that in every possible respect our new maiden Peer, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, rose to the challenge of that standard with total and complete competence and confidence.
There are not many Ministers of any party who have the command and understanding attributed rightly to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons. She and I do not always agree, but today, as on many other occasions when the entire world was thrown at her, she caught it and dealt with it in the most remarkable and competent way. As she spoke so passionately at the end, having thrown away her brief, which is something that she can do easily at any time, she indicated that she wanted us to suggest ways in which we could deliver on the fine words. I shall commend to her in a very quiet voice the thought of my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire when he suggested that it was a matter that could be considered by a Lords Committee as there is great experience and competence in this House.
Finally, it was a great pleasure to pick up the bouquets from all sides of the House about the subject of the debate, but I admit in all humility that the original inspiration came from my formidable and noble friend Lord Roper.