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Secondly, unilateralism is over. At least, if you follow the unilateral pattern, you are much more likely to fail than to succeed. The last great exercise in unilateralism was Iraq and, even in the hands of the most powerful nation on earth, it could not work. You

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have to work with your fellow nations. You have to work multilaterally. The more you do it, the more you will succeed. The less you do it, the less you will succeed. Creating those multilateral institutions and understanding the way in which you work with others is the most important thing that you can do. Winning in Afghanistan is not a military operation today. You have to work with the NGOs and the other organisations to bring governance. It is people, not the greatest military force, who bring all the disciplines together in a co-ordinated fashion and thus win such struggles. Our failure to understand that and to put in place a decent co-ordination of effort in Afghanistan is now threatening an imminent defeat unless we put it right.

My last point is this: we need to alter our structures. Haldane’s principle was drawn up in 1904 or 1905 after the British Army’s massive defeat at the hands of natives using primitive weapons in South Africa. Haldane constructed the structures of government to imitate the vertical stovepipes of the Industrial Revolution. You had vertical hierarchies, specialisation of tasks and command structures. People did not work together. Industry has moved on and now has flat networks, but our Government are stuck in the vertical hierarchies of the Haldane committee and the Industrial Revolution.

The most important thing about what the Government do is what they can do with others. This is important for the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office is no longer an individual organisation dealing with foreign affairs. It is no longer about elegant people living abroad writing elegant telegrams back to London. I remember being criticised by that formidable lady, Anne Warburton, when I was a first secretary in the UK mission in Geneva, for having too many split infinitives in my telegram to London. I got rid of all the split infinitives, but she returned the telegram to me with a huge circle in red saying, “Another beastly hanging gerund”, at which point I gave up. The Foreign Office is today not a monopoly organiser of events; it is a manager of projects. It has to be the organisation that brings together the disciplines and enables us to utilise the NGOs, the MoD, DfID and all the other organisations capable of dealing with an international crisis and bringing peace after war.

The figures show that the number of conflicts around the world is going down but that the number of failed states is going up. That tells us something. We are good at war—maybe too good at war—but we are awful at building peace afterwards. It is a classic project management operation. If the Foreign Office and other government institutions are to be serious about building peace, they have to get themselves into the mindset of working with others and managing projects across the disciplines.

I finish with my central thought, which I shall call Ashdown’s first law: the most important part of what you do is what you can do with others. Until we realise that, we will not begin to cope with the world in which we find ourselves.

2.02 pm

Baroness D'Souza: My Lords, I make no apology for returning to the subject of Zimbabwe despite it and, indeed, Africa itself being absent from the gracious

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Speech, because it is clear that the Zimbabwean Government’s policy of suppression of dissent and closure of any democratic space remains unchanged. The Zimbabwean Government have not met any of the benchmarks of the Cotonou agreement and are unlikely to do so in the future.

The presidential run-off elections in Zimbabwe last year created a crisis of legitimacy for Mugabe and an embarrassing difficulty for SADC—for example, the President of Botswana courageously refused to recognise Mugabe as head of state. Negotiations had to take place at the time; as Morgan Tsvangerai rightly pointed out, these were not about power, but about democracy. This in turn made it even more difficult for Mugabe to regain support from international institutions and the donor community, which were insisting on a return to democracy. Knowing this, the MDC could not have agreed to any deal that did not restore democracy and the rule of law, while Mugabe could not agree to anything that did.

Morgan Tsvangerai had also said that no deal was better than a bad deal, so when the agreement was signed in September MDC voters as well as ZANU-PF officials had reason to believe that the deal included a proper power-sharing arrangement. Of course, we now know that nothing of the sort emerged. The details were many, but it is reasonable to summarise what actually happened as follows. Mugabe had not ceded any real power. He and his party retained the power to allocate 30 of the 31 ministries. The portfolios were divided between ZANU-PF and the MDC, with all the key ones going to ZANU-PF. Under the agreement, Mugabe is obliged to “consult” the vice-presidents, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister. That is a meaningless process, due in part to the imprecise and ambiguous drafting of the agreement. The posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister do not exist in Zimbabwe’s constitution until an appropriate amendment is passed in the Parliament. The agreement that Mugabe should appoint Tsvangerai as prime minister has no effect in law unless and until constitutional amendment No. 19 is enacted.

The objective of the agreement is to restore democracy and the rule of law, but it lacks any articles that could serve as instruments to achieve this. Thus, even if the agreement were abided by, we would still be in the land of political posturing rather than seeing any real move forward. Furthermore, one should remember that the extreme violence of the farm invasions in 2000, the Murambatsvina clearances and violence throughout the pre-election periods in 2000, 2002 and 2008 were all carried out by a ZANU-PF Government committed to the rule of law and against violence. These are but some of the gross anomalies in the agreement and many more are being comprehensively analysed by the Zimbabwean Research and Advocacy Unit, yet there is still strong pressure to make the agreement work. I suggest that this is a fruitless pursuit and that we would do better to examine more carefully where the Opposition have some room for manoeuvre and leverage.

The only exception to the blatant lack of power ceded to the MDC relates to local government, but this, too, is extremely tenuous, as we know that Mugabe can, and often does, reassign the administration of

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various Acts to ZANU-PF’s advantage. However, the MDC has a majority in the House of Assembly, provided that the two MDC factions act together. This power remains even if the Cotonou agreement collapses. Thus, the MDC’s only real source of power lies in its parliamentary majority. This has implications for the struggle in the immediate future.

No legislation can be enacted without the MDC vote. This applies even to appropriation Bills or Bills that might be considered to be politically inexpedient. All public accounts have to be audited and agreed by the Assembly, including the authority to examine even so-called “inappropriate” accounts. Parliamentary committees can be set up to investigate past governmental practices and the activities of the Reserve Bank. The fact that the MDC has control over the parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders should ensure the establishment of an impartial, or at least a non-ZANU-PF, media and electoral commission, the latter even resulting in a thorough audit of the voter roll and electoral procedures.

Again, Mugabe, if threatened by a determined effort to enact these kinds of powers, could decide to prorogue Parliament for a period in order to regain control. However, the strategy that I would like the Minister to take back to the department, if it is not already there, is that every possible effort should now be made by the international community, including the UK Government, to direct energy towards supporting in whatever way possible parliamentary mechanisms of calling the Government to account and exposing the utter lawlessness with which Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe over past decades.

I conclude by thanking the Minister for his constant efforts to keep those of us with an interest in Zimbabwe informed and, indeed, for his genuine efforts to find solutions to the chaos and crimes that continue in that country.

2.08 pm

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, it is good to be in the House on the day when the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells has made his maiden speech. Those who know him will know that he is a person of rare knowledge and insight, humour and courage. I have no doubt that the House will receive much from him, especially when he is not constrained by the conventions of making a maiden speech. I look forward to the future.

Along with others, I was simply astonished that the gracious Speech did not contain the word “Africa” and paid no attention to the realities of Africa at all. What of the commitments of the Commission for Africa, of which the present Prime Minister was, after all, a committed and active member, whose report Our Common Interests—note those words—was published as recently as March 2005? The Government should surely have used yesterday’s most public of stages, and I am sure cheered Her Majesty up in the process, to emphasise the importance in the face of and through the present financial pressures of maintaining our commitments to the developing world with the G8 countries and others, countries which have been responsible for the greed and lack of forethought and

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care that have caused the present international crisis. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bath and Wells and others that this was surely a moment for highlighting the millennium development goals and trade justice; a moment to express what I understand from other correspondents to be the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the next generation of international financial arrangements takes more note of these commitments than those that have now broken around us.

I wish to speak about the Democratic Republic of Congo. I share the view of the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, and appreciate the quality of the service of the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, whose knowledge, experience, sheer hard work, openness and accessibility to parliamentarians and others are striking.

I shall not attempt to lay out the present situation, particularly in the eastern Congo. Noble Lords will have read the press. Although they may not have read some of what others have read, they will have read enough. They will have been following the development of the wretched situation in the central part of the eastern border, 400 miles south-north, 150 miles east-west, bordering the other profoundly delicate places of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. They will know that the immediate roots of the situation lie in the Rwandan horrors of 1994 but that the roots of it all are much deeper in the history of the region, colonial and indigenous. They will know, too, that it is a region like the rest of the country—if possible, more so—where there is no effective government and no infrastructure, even by central African standards. Like some noble Lords, I have been there, I have flown over it and I have been driven on some of its roads, which make transporting troops and anything else extraordinarily difficult. This fact is often missed by those who write about it in this country.

In the time that remains I wish to ask seven questions, all of which, and a few others, give substance to the urgency expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons. By what means, through whose intervention and how soon can any persuasive encouragement be offered to the perhaps 1.2 million people in that area who are away from their homes, either in camps, in the forest, on the roads, and therefore vulnerable to every possible difficulty one can imagine, or crowded out with relatives and friends? What can encourage those people that it is safe, and will continue to be safe, for them to go home? How can such encouragement, such a level of security, be made to last through the considerable time that it will take to work through the complicated political questions? These include the building of trust and collaboration between the DRC and Rwanda; the disbanding of forces that exist because their members are convinced that they have grounds to fear those around them; the resettlement of at least some members of those forces, which depends in part on the resolution of conflicting claims to land; the repatriation of some to Rwanda; the integration into the national army of those not guilty of murder, rape and pillage; and the development of the DRC Government into a national Government in more than just name.

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Will the Minister and the Government continue to encourage politicians, including, it sometimes seems, some of his colleagues, to allow that although there can be no military solutions to these delicate and complex issues, political solutions will for some time require an outside military presence to provide the security that only competent and reliable troops—which, among them, means first-world troops—with the right equipment and the right mandates, can guarantee and, if necessary, enforce? How soon will the recently agreed reinforcements to MONUC, the UN force, be in the DRC and in active service, with the necessary equipment, training and, critically, interpreters, and without the caveats that handicap some of the contributors in the DRC as in Afghanistan? What delay does the noble Lord consider acceptable granted the fragility of the situation, now and going forward? Put the other way up, what delay will make irresistible the clamour from Congolese NGOs and communities, let alone from friends outside the country, for a short-term, first-world force, the presence of which in the eastern DRC could free MONUC to attend to more of its mandates? In the light of their enormous financial commitment to the development of the DRC, should not Her Majesty’s Government be more positive about the need for such a force and about contributing to it more than the necessary command and logistics expertise?

Especially in the light of the very recently published Human Rights Watch report vividly entitled, “We Will Crush You”: The Restriction of Political Space in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which chronicles in detail the violence, torture and intimidation practised from the highest levels of the Government elected in 2006 on those they have seen as challenges to their security, how can this same Government be held to their commitments to the UK and other donors to do away with the effective impunity from any accountability which gross abusers of human rights have so far enjoyed across the DRC through these past terrible 14 years? How can there be an end to the recycling of such people, not just into the national army, the FARDC, but to high rank in it and to high office in the state; and how can that be made to impact on Laurent Nkunda, whose record, at least since 2000, is appalling?

Will the noble Lord ensure that his Home Office colleagues read the report that I have just named? Will he encourage them at last to listen to those of us—notably the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, some of my colleagues and others in this House and elsewhere—who have been telling the Home Office for some years that the UK must not deport anyone, whatever their asylum status, back into the DRC, least of all women?

All those who know the DRC agree that its wealth in minerals and forests—and its failure to keep this wealth out of the hands of a long succession of rapacious and violent extractors going back to the notorious King Leopold—is, perhaps, the major driver of the sufferings of many millions of its people, a point mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. Are Her Majesty’s Government prepared to offer, with others, the necessary assistance to and pressure on the Congolese Government to enable them to put their own house in order and to get to grips with these realities? Crucially, are Her Majesty’s Government prepared to put an utterly different level of effort,

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resource and urgency than to date into their management of the OECD guidelines process and the UK contact point? Will they make adherence to these an absolute condition of government assistance and financial support to British companies trading in the resources of the DRC and of other conflict and post-conflict states? Will they appoint really senior civil servants to manage these processes and then hold those individuals accountable—and perhaps even a Minister for a period to change the culture completely and quickly—rather as the FSA has recently acknowledged that it was simply silly to use relatively junior officials to regulate the major banks?

The situation for millions in the DRC is dire and getting no better. As I have said, I respect the noble Lord for all that he is seeking to do, but there is more that can and should be done by the Government of which he is part.

2.19 pm

Lord Ahmed: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Malloch-Brown for the excellent leadership he provides in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, utilising his expertise when dealing with difficult situations around the world. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that his commitment, dedication and talent, as previously mentioned, are highly appreciated and a credit to this House. His office has been presented with challenging times in dealing with wars, hunger, poverty, human rights abuses, democracy and dictators, international terrorism, drugs and people-trafficking—the list goes on. However, I should like to concentrate on two areas desperately in need of attention from Her Majesty's Government: the situation in Gaza and relations between India and Pakistan after the terrible attacks on Mumbai last week.

Let me begin by describing the dire situation that has engulfed the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. It has been eloquently described by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and I thank her for her contribution. Three weeks ago I led a delegation of 11 European parliamentarians into Gaza via the sea. Israel and Egypt refused entry into Gaza to any politicians or visitors and I understand that Israel has now denied the BBC and the New York Times entry. Egypt refused 53 international parliamentarians entry to Gaza via the Rafah crossing, denying the Palestinian people the urgent medical supplies that the parliamentarians were hoping to take them.

We visited Gaza to show solidarity with its people. We visited schools and hospitals; we met with civil society and elected members. We saw children who are suffering in hospitals, some in incubators: their parents were nervous because they did not know when the electricity would be switched off. We saw children who did not have bandages or medicine. The slow death visited on the Palestinians in Gaza is finding its first victims among 450 cancer patients, 35 per cent of them children, who are being prevented from leaving Gaza for urgent medical attention in Israeli or Arab hospitals. Thousands of other patients are being turned away from hospitals suffering from a dire shortage of 300 different kinds of medicine. Lack of spares has put half the ambulances out of action in the territory

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and 95 types of medicine, as well as cancer drugs, are no longer available. Two hundred and twenty machines used for dialysis and treating other serious conditions, including CT scanning, are unserviceable.

On 25 November 2008, John Ging, the head of UNRWA operations in Gaza, described the situation as very desperate. He said that,

Today, more than 600,000 children under the age of 16 are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The Red Cross report describes the effects of the siege as “devastating”. Seventy per cent of the population currently suffers from food insecurity. According to the World Health Organisation, 51 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have died over the past year while waiting for permits to enter Israel for medical treatment or having been denied permission to enter.

I can give a lot of facts and figures. Under the Oslo agreement in 1994, Gazan fishermen were permitted to go 20 kilometres out to sea. Some 40,000 fishermen and their dependants rely on this form of livelihood. Israel has banned fishing off the Gaza coast and deprived local people of a proper diet. On Tuesday 15 November, three Israeli naval vessels surrounded three fishing boats off the coast of Gaza; 15 Palestinian fishermen were forced to strip naked and swim in the icy winter waters towards the naval vessels and were then taken in for interrogation.

We have seen what has happened regarding electricity and power cuts. Furthermore, at the end of October and in early November, Israeli tanks killed six Palestinians breaking a ceasefire that had generally held. I condemn those who fire shells into Israel as well, but we must put things into perspective and see who is suffering the most and who started this recent round of violence.

The quartet representative, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has talked about putting responsibility with the new Administration in the United States. I believe that he has failed in his duty by not visiting the Gaza Strip even once. He has imposed conditions that we did not impose on the Irish people when we were asking for peace in Northern Ireland. Even then, elected representatives in Gaza are saying that they are prepared to negotiate. This is an impossible situation.

Two days ago the Prime Minister said at a Muslims for Labour dinner that he now sees a likelihood of a Palestinian state. How can that be when we are isolating half of the Palestinian people, depriving them of food, electricity, medicine and basic needs and depriving them of engagement with any political process? We went into Iraq and Afghanistan because we wanted to impose democracy. Gaza has elected parliamentarians we do not want to talk to because we do not agree with what they say.

Israel continues to enjoy special economic and political status under the European Union Mediterranean programme. I hope that the Government will consider suspending that special treatment now because of the situation in Gaza. The Israelis have used a policy of collective punishment, which is against international law. I hope that somebody will raise that and the violation of all the Geneva conventions.

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Let me turn to the situation in south Asia. We were all appalled and shocked by the terrorist attacks on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the heinous attacks on Mumbai last week. Terrorists do not spare people of a certain religion, creed or colour, so we must not assume that these fanatics attack only non-Muslims. We therefore need to remain undivided in dealing with these evil people.

India is a very large country, with complex political problems, from Nagaland to Assam and the Tamils to Punjab and Kashmir. There are people in India asking and campaigning for the right to self-determination and self-governance. Three months ago, the international community witnessed the horrific attacks on the Christian minority by Hindu fundamentalists in Gujarat. We also witnessed the killing of innocent Muslims and the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Now fanatics are targeting innocent people in Mumbai.

I urge caution until all the facts have been established. We must remain cautious in laying the blame at Pakistan’s door until Pakistani involvement can be proven and evidence is produced to its Government. Pakistan has a vast amount of problems on its western borders: terrorism, drugs, lack of education, inconsistent application of the rule of law, poverty and deprivation. Further pressure will only destabilise the democratically elected Government of Pakistan and may lead to a situation which the international community will not be able to control. We need to encourage India and Pakistan to work together in dealing with the evils of terrorism, in giving the right of self-determination to people who have been struggling for it, such as those in Kashmir, and in giving rights to people in Punjab, Assam and Baluchistan, and justice to Waziristan. My final request, therefore, is that Her Majesty's Government not only look at the dire situation of the Gazan people but also work for better relations between India and Pakistan.

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