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The Secretary-General’s last-minute development of the concept of an international stabilisation force was not pursued by the Security Council’s November resolution, so that 3,000 AMISOM troops who had been hanging on in the hope of being reinforced are also certain to be withdrawn. They had been helping the Ethiopians to protect the two major cities of Mogadishu and Baidoa, leaving the rest of the country to the extreme faction of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, under Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is in fact on the UN list of terrorist associates. It is only a matter of time before these terrorists take control of the capital, making it impossible for the international community to continue its recognition of the TFG. The moderate Islamist leader of an ARS faction, Sharif Ahmed, who signed a new deal with a faction of the TFG last week, appears to control no territory at all. What does the Minister think that the international community should do at the end of this month, when all these things arise?

Eritrea's involvement in Somalia, which includes hosting Mr Aweys’s base in Asmara and probably giving him logistical help, may have been one way of its retaliating against Ethiopia for Meles’s prevarication over the boundary commission determination of April 2002. I remind your Lordships that, under the distinguished chairmanship of the British jurist Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, the commission tried to get agreement on physical delimitation but finally had to admit defeat

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in September 2006, contenting itself with expressing the border in terms of its co-ordinates. If the UN had been much firmer since then with Addis Ababa in calling for unconditional acceptance of the commission's determination, for removal of their troops from Eritrean territory and for demilitarisation of the legal boundary, it would have allowed both countries to divert enormous amounts of money and manpower lavished on their armed forces over the last six and half years into peaceful development. It would have meant that both countries might have been co-operating in the development of a peaceful political settlement for Somalia.

If the AU cannot persuade member states to reinforce AMISOM and the Security Council ignores the problem, the AU should consider how at least to protect Somaliland, which has been de facto independent for the past 18 years, now under a democratically elected Government. The Minister told me in a Written Answer that we were reassessing the situation in Somaliland to see how we can implement our programmes of assistance and opportunities of enhancing our support. One way would be to encourage the AU to recognise Somaliland, so that it would have the backing of international law against any attempt by Mr Aweys to occupy it, and to stabilise it against further acts of terrorism. Somalia is already a haven for terrorists and pirates, and we should at least seek international agreement to prevent them extending their control over a law-abiding neighbour.

The UN is already overstretched, and member states are having difficulty meeting requests for contributions to peacekeeping forces elsewhere in Africa. The Security Council decided on a Chapter VII mandate for Darfur as long ago as August 2006, but the hybrid UN/AU force deployment timetable has slipped yet again, as has already been mentioned, to reach 80 per cent of its final strength in March 2009. That has dire consequences for the region as a whole, as the noble Lord, Lord Ashcroft, has said. There has been deterioration in the security situation, including deadly attacks on peacekeepers. Their freedom of movement is undermined repeatedly by government-imposed restrictions. UN helicopters have come under fire several times and, although the Government say that they are committed to a ceasefire, they bombed villages in November, and, in the previous month, their militias attacked dozens of villages, killing 40 innocent civilians.

The long history of broken promises has not yet come to an end. The Security Council should insist that all aggressive operations by the armed forces of the country should cease and that the persistent obstruction of humanitarian agencies should also come to an end. One of the items on the “to do” list of Mr Djibril Bassolé, the UN chief mediator, should be to get agreement on independent international monitoring of ceasefire violations to resolve the arguments about responsibility that arise whenever civilians are killed or injured. It would be useful to know whether that has been discussed with Khartoum.

4.40 pm

Baroness Prosser: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate and to raise issues regarding the international responsibilities of Her Majesty’s Government as they relate to the rights and dignity of women.

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It may be true to say that our Government have limited direct control over some of these matters, but we certainly can wield significant influence through our historic experience, via international aid and in countries where we have a presence. I want to quote from the knowledge of some of the non-governmental organisations working on international affairs, and to seek agreement that our Government will want to learn lessons from some of that grassroots experience.

Your Lordships will know that there are many dangerous places around the world. Areas of conflict can be doubly dangerous for women, with the threat of sexual violence a day-to-day terror. The recent implementation of a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law punishment on a young Somali girl shocked decent people around the world, and in Somalia. Nearer to home, eastern European gangs buying and selling young women continue to enrage and disgust us.

One country where the United Kingdom has a presence, and therefore an opportunity to influence, is Afghanistan. I was comforted when my noble friend Lady Taylor confirmed the United Kingdoms Government’s commitment to remain and help in Afghanistan. Women for Women International, an NGO with 15 years’ experience of working with women in areas of conflict, has recently launched a policy brief entitled, Hope in Afghanistan, which quotes from a survey conducted with others to determine women’s views on their futures within that country; 1,500 urban and rural women were surveyed. It is important to note that all previously lived under Soviet rule, Taliban rule or no rule at all. Not surprisingly, therefore, 80 per cent of them felt that now their situation could be described as good. More than 50 per cent said that they had confidence in national government, but less than half thought that it was doing anything about women’s issues. Hope in Afghanistan. Hope, indeed, in a country where Taliban gunmen recently killed Afghanistan’s most senior policewoman, the head of the department of crimes against women. Hope, indeed, in a country where a woman dies from pregnancy- related causes every 27 minutes. Hope, indeed, in a country where the NGO, WOMANKIND Worldwide, has estimated that 80 per cent of women have experienced domestic violence, 60 per cent of marriages are forced and half of all girls are married before the age of 16.

Cultural pressures may, of course, apply, but many forced marriages are directly related to poverty; deals done to wipe out a debt. Poverty and powerlessness provide a fertile breeding ground for terrorism and lawlessness. The inclusion of civil society in rebuilding broken communities is essential to establish ownership of, and commitment to, those new communities. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, supported by the United Kingdom Government, requires the inclusion of women in rebuilding countries ravaged and broken by war and conflict. We must maintain pressure and use our influence to gain value from the spirit as well as the letter of the resolution.

Women for Women International calls for three areas to be addressed prior to the formal enactment of Resolution 1325. First, there must be a recognition that women can play a critical role here and that they

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must be at the heart of rebuilding and reconstruction. Secondly, there should be an active, organised local community of women’s NGOs that reaches all levels of society. Thirdly, there must be a commitment from the most senior leadership to the full inclusion of women at all levels of society, both in institutions and in decision-making.

I understand the view of our Foreign Secretary, who calls for all parties in Afghanistan to be part of the debate about the future of their own country. I would not understand for one moment any agreement that compromised the rights of Afghani women, both because it would be morally unacceptable and because it would be a short-term fix that would not provide a long-term, inclusive and stable future.

We must also maintain our commitment to the delivery of the millennium development goals. If we want developing countries to develop and grow and their internal economies to begin to prosper, we must press on, in particular with the second and third MDGs on primary education and the ending of gender disparity in education. The old saying, “You educate a mother and you educate a family” still holds good.

Finally, let me draw to the attention of noble Lords the Commission on the Status of Women, which will meet next March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for its annual review of the Beijing platform for action. One of the two priority statements to be updated and agreed concerns the participation of women in public life. The Women’s National Commission, which is the official advisory body to government on the views of women in the United Kingdom, will as usual be co-ordinating the attending UK NGOs and will again as usual liaise with the official government representatives from DfID, the FCO and the Government Equalities Office. Lessons can be learnt from these NGOs, which are experienced in and directly knowledgeable of international matters as they affect women around the world. I hope that our Government will listen carefully.

4.47 pm

Lord Rana: My Lords, the economy is one of the most fraught issues facing this country, this Government and Administrations worldwide. At a time when economic pressures urge us to consider our own financial hardships, there is a risk that that we will forget and forsake the need of those in the developing world. That need is not only for international aid, charity or benevolence. It is a need to address the unfairness in trade relationships between developing or producing countries and consuming countries, such as the United Kingdom. Multinational corporations bring important work, income and opportunities to the developing world. This is a relationship in which the need for cheaper labour meets the developing world’s need for work, employment and income.

As we struggle to survive the recession, there is a very real danger that pressure will be increased on people in developing countries to subsidise us. What every recession has taught us is that the poorest of the poor, particularly in the third world, will be the hardest hit. We talk about the globalisation of trade, economics and commerce. We ought to ensure that there is more than fairness in the way in which we look at poverty.

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People throughout the world will work for poverty wages where there is a scarcity of jobs, and any work is better than no work. The food crisis and the global recession have exacerbated this. With no legal enforcement of workers’ rights and no negotiating power, the cost of labour is driven down, keeping the impoverished poor. There are at least 12.3 million people in forced labour in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and approximately a third of the world’s labour force works in the informal and unregulated market. The majority of the informal workforce is in developing countries and more than 80 per cent of those workers are women.

We in the UK are direct beneficiaries of the continued impoverishment of communities in the developing world. In 2005, according to the World Bank, the wealthiest 20 per cent of the world’s population accounted for 76.6 per cent of total private consumption and the poorest fifth just 1.5 per cent. This boon for UK consumers has dire costs for us all. Apart from the moral dilemma of paying people poverty wages, the exploitation of poor workers has repercussions for us in the United Kingdom.

First, as consumers, we have become accustomed to purchasing products at unrealistically low prices, and that has led to a pattern of impulse purchasing and increased waste. It must be unacceptable that a third of the world’s population hardly has sufficient food to eat and that one third has a subsistence-level existence. The rest of us are buying what is unnecessary and the food that we throw away could feed the hungry children and women of the world. An official government website notes that, if everyone in the world lived to the same standard as people in the United Kingdom,

This culture of consumerism, which thrives in part because of the low price of many of our products, is creating levels of waste that are unrealistic and a major contributor to global warming.

The second consequence is the rise of a disenfranchised, marginalised people. Out of this economic unfairness grows dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction is a breeding ground for extremism, terrorism and violence. This is a lesson that we continue to learn in different parts of the world.

The current financial meltdown presents us with an opportunity to rethink and re-examine our trade, business and consumption practices and how they impact on those in the developing world, and indeed to question our whole lifestyle. There are two global movements in which the United Kingdom has a pivotal role. The first is the achievement of the millennium development goals and the second is the work of the UN special representative on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

The first millennium development goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by reducing by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day, achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and younger people, and reducing by half the proportion of people who

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suffer from hunger. Achieving this goal requires not only aid but also co-operation with the UN special representative on human rights, Professor John Ruggie, who has worked on providing greater protection for individuals and communities against corporate-related human rights abuses. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to consider that the sustainability of the millennium development goals should depend not on benevolence and charity but on fair labour practices and the ability to organise decent wages for all.

4.55 pm

Lord Steinberg: My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Rana, because like me he has strong connections with Northern Ireland. Not only that, his coat peg in the Hall downstairs is directly beside mine, so we have two items of common interest.

I am an optimist, not a pessimist, so I say to the noble Lord, Lord Wright, that I am very much in favour of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. I always have been and always will be, and I believe that it is one way to achieve lasting peace. At present there is not a great deal of publicity or news coming out of Israel. Many people would think that things were normal—if things ever could be normal in Israel. In Israel’s northern borders, Hezbollah has been stockpiling weapons and rockets to such an extent that on 26 November Ehud Barak reported that Hezbollah now had 42,000 rockets with a range to reach beyond Tel Aviv.

That is in direct contradiction of the United Nations resolution approved at the end of the Lebanese war in July/August 2006. Beyond Israel’s southern borders, Hamas is piling weapons into the Gaza Strip and the best reports reaching Israel are that these are coming in through tunnels from Egypt. There is no let-up in the amount of weaponry coming into the country. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Ahmed, who is not in his place, that Israel left Gaza in a decent economic situation with several industries and a lot of housing, and it has been turned into a nest for terrorists. In the so-called West Bank area Palestinian terrorists still try to get into Israel wearing suicide belts. Fortunately, practically all of them have been detected.

Rockets come into Sederot and to Ashkelon despite Hamas saying that there is a ceasefire. What other 60 year-old country has had to face extremism and violence every day of every year for 60 years? Is it any wonder that the Israeli public are opposed to peace deals when all the giving appears to be by the Israelis and the taking by the Palestinians? Is it any wonder that the captured soldier, Corporal Shalit, has not been released, despite huge numbers of prisoners in Israel’s jails being released? Is it any wonder that the entire population of Israel is sceptical about peace issues when their priority must be security?

Many people think that Israel giving up East Jerusalem, giving up all of the West Bank and allowing Palestinian refugees back into Israel will solve the problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. I speak not on behalf of the Israeli Government but as a Jewish Zionist who visits Israel half a dozen times each year. I know the thinking of the politicians, I know the feelings of the people, and I know the huge desire for a permanent

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peace with our neighbours. But it must not be “give” only on Israel’s part. Yes, there must be compromise and I agree that compromise is always good, but Israel must be assured that it is not going to go through another 60 years of day-by-day terrorist incidents.

We have all been horrified by the recent terrible bombings in Mumbai, but little mention has been made of the Jewish outreach centre where half a dozen Jews were murdered purely because they were Jews. The rabbi, who trained in a Torah learning school, came from north Manchester. For him to be foully murdered when all he and his wife were doing was looking after tourists who came to the area on holiday sends a shudder down one’s spine.

We have to compromise, but the compromise that I suggest is as difficult for the Palestinians as it is for the Israelis. I do not believe that Jerusalem should be divided, but that East Jerusalem should become a kind of metropolitan area like we have in England. It should be able to provide its own services and have its own government and its own control. I am certain that Israel would dramatically encourage that. Noble Lords may not know that Jerusalem is of supreme importance to Jewish people. In our daily and weekly prayers, Jerusalem is mentioned more than 500 times. It may interest noble Lords to know that in the Koran it is not mentioned even once.

Now let me talk about another thorny issue: refugees. Palestinian refugees would entirely unbalance the State of Israel. I do not call them refugees because I believe that, in the main, they left Israel because the then Mufti of Jerusalem told them to leave. They were not forced out and 1.25 million live comfortably as citizens of Israel. Many serve in the Israeli army and quite a number of them are members of the Knesset. Therefore, I do not believe that there is any opportunity for one single Palestinian to go back to Israel, which Palestinians have long since left.

One of the other thorny issues is settlements, and I have considerable sympathy for Palestinians who point to outlying settlements on hilltops that are merely occupied by 20 or 30 people in a portacabin or a caravan. To me, and to the Palestinians, they are a bit like a red rag to a bull. I am in favour, and I believe that Israelis are mainly in favour, of such settlements being dismantled, but—and it is a big “but”—there are some so-called settlements that are towns in their own right, such as Efrat and Ariel. These are now reasonable-sized towns complete with their own infrastructure and will form part of a permanent settlement. I believe that the boundaries of Israel should be redrawn and these so-called settlement towns should be included in Israel proper, and that we from Israel should substitute land, which we have done on previous occasions, and redraw the boundaries. This should appeal to every reasonable person.

I know this speech might not receive approbation from everybody, but it is realistic and takes into account the current feelings of the people of Israel. Israel is due to hold an election in February, and current predictions are that Bibi Netanyahu will be the next Prime Minister. He has different views from those of my friend, Ehud Olmert, to whom I pay tribute for the two and a half difficult years that he has served Israel as Prime Minister. Bibi is a different type of person,

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and I believe he will display some more realistic approaches that will not please a huge number of people outside Israel but will please people inside Israel.

Just as Israel is having an election in February, so the United States has had its election, and I sincerely hope that Barack Obama and his recently announced Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will do their level best to try and resolve the morass that exists in the Middle East. I wish them success and I wish the Minister, who is not in his place, success in discussions. Deliberations should continue at a more advanced level than they are at the moment. It is my fervent wish that Israel can live in permanent peace with its neighbours without the fear of continual terrorist attacks, without the fear of rockets landing on homes and without suicide bombers appearing wherever they can find a soft target.

Finally, I hope and trust that the Minister will give sufficient impetus to resolving the problem. If there is any way in which I can help in that, I am more than happy so to do.

5.05 pm

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, the gracious Speech is a little thin on global issues such as world poverty and the millennium development goals. There has been no shortage of speakers in favour of international development; I welcome that. I intend to focus on a country that has suffered violence lately: Kenya, still emerging from a period of post-election bloodshed only last January. I was there last week with a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation, visiting the Kenyan Assembly.

I hope that when he winds up, the Minister will confirm my view that we need to build on our close relationship with the new Kibaki-Odinga coalition, which underpins the security of the region. If it falls apart, things could go badly wrong. It is essential that Kenyans understand that the UK is fully behind them as they pass through this transitional phase of their history. The Obama family reminded us only yesterday that our colonial relationship with Kenya at the time of independence was not a happy one. British soldiers and police take a share of responsibility for some of the violence at that time. Land disputes are another legacy of independence.

Kenya is today a vibrant and prosperous nation composed of many ethnic groups, the largest of which, the Kikuyu, Luo and Kalenjin, now express their demands through the main political parties—albeit at the expense of the smaller ones. Kenya has generally made good progress towards the millennium development goals, but there is acute poverty in Nairobi itself and in many rural areas, such as Nyanza province. We visited some established NGOs there such as AMREF, the African Medical and Research Foundation, and community health projects. Families were having to cope on their own with the alarming effects of HIV/AIDS. We went to Kisumu, which is soon to become Obamaland, where hundreds of people had been burnt out of their homes or shot by vengeful or trigger-happy police. We met survivors of that violence at a displaced persons camp near Naivasha and marvelled at the resilience of people forced to flee in search of food and shelter.

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