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Lord Judd: My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of Saferworld and as a governor of the LSE who serves on the advisory board of its Centre for the Study of Human Rights. The noble Lord, Lord Howell, has a long and respected record of wise concern for international affairs. Only a few days ago, I was looking at a photograph that he recently sent me of a meeting we had together with U Thant as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I was very glad to hear my noble friend Lady Kinnock, but sad that she has not had longer to bring all her commitment and experience to bear directly on foreign policy in government. It is absolutely clear that she will effectively bring it to bear indirectly from the opposition Benches.
As the noble Lord, Lord Howell, said, the first inescapable truth of our existence is interdependence. That is evidenced in economics, migration, environment, climate change, security, culture, education, health and other dimensions. However, we have to recognise that globalisation can be seen as threatening and disempowering for countless people across the world. The challenge is to find a dynamic formula for enabling people to establish a sense of security in their identity and immediate community while recognising that the numerous strategic issues that overwhelm them can be solved only by effective co-operation at local, regional, national and international levels. It is not either/or. The need is to appreciate interdependence and then find ways of most effectively handling it. That is central to economic, foreign, security, overseas development and defence policies.
Co-operation in Europe must not falter. The consequences of failure would be as disastrous for the British people as for anybody else. We have to start from where we are and the euro cannot just be wished away. However, we should perhaps look for a change of approach to Europe's future. Arguably, we will have a stronger European Community if it is more confederal in style, with more emphasis on co-operation by its member nation states, rather than having a centralised, imposed bureaucratic style. Co-operation and co-ordination should be the essential culture. That will demand strong leadership and while we must all hope that the coalition can provide that, there will inevitably be anxieties about how the Liberal Europhiles will work effectively with the Conservatives and their rejection of the European Christian Democratic tradition in favour of the eccentric and extreme right of the European mainland.
We are all rightly concerned about security. A redefinition of the ingredients for security is long overdue. It must include economic, social, environmental and related matters. The National Security Council to be established by the coalition is interesting but the needs are greater. Arms control, conflict resolution and security sector reform are key parts of all that, as is pre-emptive diplomacy. Human rights are absolutely central to it. Where there are few human rights abuses, the danger of alienation and extremism will be less; where there are serious human rights abuses and failings, the recruitment of extremists will be facilitated. Human rights are not an optional extra. They are the muscular core of relevant security policy. To be effectively fulfilled, they must be seen as valid universally and never partially. That is why the UN convention, the European convention and the European Court of Human Rights reflected in our own Human Rights Act are so critically important.
For those reasons, our own anti-terror legislation has to preserve a demonstrable and unswerving commitment to those standards and principles that make our society and its system of justice worth defending. I am glad that the coalition has staked out its intention to tackle issues such as secret tribunals and the current inadmissibility in open court of intercept evidence, worries about the nature of control orders and the detention of children in the operation of our immigration policy. The presumption of innocence and justice being seen to be done are central pillars to our system. We erode them at our peril.
In specific country terms, there are two vivid examples of the dangers of counterproductivity in Israel and, as I recently saw on a visit for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, in Russian policy in the Caucasus and Chechnya. Russia and Israel, by their oppression and repression and by their abuse of human rights, are recruiting for international terrorism and widening instability. There is an urgent need to work with courageous and enlightened people in both countries who understand that and seek to change course.
It is encouraging that the coalition has committed itself to 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2013. In an age of boundless technological developments, it is shameful and grim that millions of people still go prematurely to their graves never having begun to be what they might have been. Sustainable economic prosperity is obviously related to global stability and security. But these challenges are at least as demanding at the global level as at the individual country level. Global, environmental, trade, economic and migration policies are as critical to sustain development as anything done at the country level-often more critical. There is a growing resentment among many well educated and highly articulate people at the way in which the advantaged nations of the world, often partly advantaged by the exploitation of the less advantaged, remain determined to manage the world and impose their agendas in the global international institutions. That is very much related to the alienation that leads to extremism and threats to global security. The agendas need to be felt to be every bit as much the agendas of the disadvantaged. To limit the disadvantaged to responding to our priorities, however enlightened we believe them to be, is to perpetuate hostility and non-co-operation.
The coalition has its defence review to come. As a former Defence Minister, I endorse every word of appreciation to our service personnel and their families. The real validity of the review will be a willingness to look honestly at the future and at the threats and challenges to come and to ask what we must do to prepare for the future. What will we have to be prepared to do and how will we do it? How do we ensure that invariably the equipment and resources to undertake the task can be guaranteed before we undertake it? There should be no exemptions to the review. Faced with daunting financial challenges and restraints, why should the immensely expensive Trident renewal be ring-fenced? Alternatives must be properly examined, as I understand the Liberals are arguing in the coalition.
The case for the aircraft carriers has to be seen in the context of what we see as our role, if any, in deploying rapidly and flexibly across the world to play our part with the international community in sustaining peace and stability. The case for the carriers could be very strong in such a context, providing as they would free-standing platforms from which we could operate. But the overriding responsibility of the review must be to identify the task ahead. It would be utterly appropriate in doing that if the review were to encompass an analysis of the vital contribution to defence, peace and security to be made by arms control and disarmament policies and what should be our role in pursuing those in the nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional spheres.
We often think of international development as a matter of commerce, possibly as aid and trade. I suggest that it is much more than that. It is about people's aspirations and dreams; it is about how we can help people to achieve their potential and realise what they could become.
At different times in history, the world has been deprived of so many people. We have had wars, great hunger and humiliation, when people have been obliterated. A little while ago, we were remembering what happened at Katyn in the forests of Poland, when the military leaders who could have led Poland into a new era were destroyed. We have suffered because people have not been allowed to achieve their potential. Not one of us here has suffered the terror of a Holocaust or has waited in dread to see what might happen to our families and children. We have not seen people being treated in a totally inhuman way. However, one thinks of the possible Einsteins and Mendelssohns who were not able to achieve any of their potential.
The individual is absolutely crucial and is to be safeguarded in our civilisation. I will not take too much time this evening, but I wish to speak about two issues: the status of migrants and that of asylum seekers. Through exit and entry checks on those who come to and leave this country, we hope to regularise the situation of migrants and especially asylum seekers. In this new situation, we can help to give people an opportunity to achieve their dreams and to develop their abilities in the fullest possible way. We have the opportunity to restore dignity to the most vulnerable in our communities and to remove the stigmas and fears of the past.
People from the European Union come here completely legally but, especially in the present economic situation, they find even existing here a challenge that they often fail to meet. One organisation, Barka UK, visits Polish people, including rough sleepers and those who have lost their jobs. Last year, it found in a garage in Brent 20 penniless and homeless Polish men who were cooking rats-this was in the present era-for their meals.
There are things that we can do to improve the situation. For example, we need to look at the benefits system. I suggest that people from the European Community who have paid contributions in their own country should be able to draw on those contributions anywhere in the European Union. If they are unemployed or ill, they should be able to draw on contributions paid in, say, Lithuania even in Wales. Things can be done where Europe can lead the way. A clause in the pensions and benefits system might make this possible at no cost at all to us. I hope that the Minister will instigate an investigation to try to remove struggling migrants from destitution.
I finish by mentioning the City of Sanctuary movement, which aims to make our towns and cities welcoming places for people who are seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom. I am proud that Swansea was the second city in the UK, after Sheffield, to become a city of sanctuary. Over the past two years, Swansea's City of Sanctuary initiative has gathered the support of 105 local organisations, including faith communities, small businesses, South Wales Police and the local newspaper. The City and County of Swansea passed a unanimous resolution of support for this status and is working in every way possible to implement it throughout local government.
We need to make people feel that they belong here and that we welcome them. Let us change hostility into hospitality. People are here and they have a right to be here. We must make them feel that they are part of our communities. We need to give all sections of the community hope and the real possibility of achieving their potential. A major task is to remove people's suspicion of life outside their communities and to help new arrivals to be comfortable in the wider society. That would enable them to contribute much more effectively to the life of the community. As a Parliament, we have the opportunity to help people to realise their dreams and to fulfil their aspirations.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I shall speak mainly about Africa, but first I warmly welcome all our new Ministers to the Front Bench, especially the noble Lord, Lord Howell, who has stood behind the Dispatch Box on both sides for many years, demonstrating great skill and patience. I do not envy any of the new Ministers, who will regularly have to face such a line-up of well informed and sometimes forceful speakers. I am thinking especially of the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, whom we also welcome back to the Front Bench, albeit on the other side.
I am pretty confident that the Minister and the noble Viscount share the view expressed by my noble friends Lady Cox and Lord Alton that the House has a considerable number of experts in foreign affairs and development who could be effectively deployed in a Lords Select Committee on specific issues without antagonising or duplicating the work of the Commons. That is matter for the House, but I am sure that those noble Lords will add their voice to this argument when the time comes and it is discussed in the Liaison Committee.
The Minister said that, in conflict areas, international development, foreign policy and defence often have to work together and be carefully co-ordinated. Afghanistan is the most prominent example of that, but there are three countries in Africa-Sudan, Kenya and Congo-
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I welcome the new emphasis on civil society and the funding of smaller NGOs, as has already been recognised by charities. In the coalition manifesto I noticed a sentence, which is potentially disturbing, about stabilisation and reconstruction in Afghanistan. I hope it will not lead to any rebranding of development projects that appear to be more in our own strategic interests than in the interests of that country. The noble Baroness has mentioned that.
The coalition faces a troubled and unstable world in which, I suggest, internal migration is always a key factor. I concur with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, has just said. The latest figures are not encouraging. We now have the highest number of internally displaced people ever, growing from 17 million in 1997 to more than 27 million worldwide. The region most affected is Africa, with 11.6 million. It is significant that Sudan has the highest number of IDPs in Africa, with 4.9 million, more than half of them in Darfur. That excludes nearly 400,000 refugees from Sudan who are abroad. Taking just the most recent numbers, only eight countries account for 90 per cent of the 6.8 million people displaced in the world last year. Of those, 3 million are in Pakistan, 1 million are in Congo and more than 500,000 are in Sudan. These figures come from the Norwegian Refugee Council's displacement monitoring service.
While world security after 9/11 focused on the Pakistan frontier, relatively little attention has been paid to Africa, particularly the region of southern Sudan and the Great Lakes. One reason for this is that although some of Africa's more vigorous refugees make it to the Mediterranean ports, migration to the UK chiefly derives from Europe and south Asia so, as a nation, we tend to be more concerned about direct threats to ourselves. We are therefore much less aware of the effects of conflict in east and central Africa, unless we happen to follow closely the work of the humanitarian agencies. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, mentioned Congo. I hope the Minister will confirm that we will support the extension of the vital UN MONUC force there.
This is the year of reckoning in Sudan. In spite of continuing violence, the comprehensive peace agreement has held sufficiently to enable the Governments of north and south to prepare for fundamental change and a referendum next January that is likely to lead to secession. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, referred to the all-party group's report on Sudan, launched by the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, on 18 March. It argued that, because of the elections, there have not been enough preparations for the referendum. It seems vital that north and south draw up contingency plans now. Even if they separate, the south will continue to depend on the north for natural resources and, more specifically, for revenue
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Nearly half of our bilateral aid to Sudan is in humanitarian assistance. A further 37 per cent is in governance, so not much is left for on-the-ground development. Those figures speak for themselves. Without emergency relief from countries such as ours, and without the strengthening of government in the south, the country would be even more destitute. The vast tracts of scrub and savannah in the south are among the least hospitable on earth but, given stability of government, there is potentially sufficient fertile land to feed, house and educate the population, even without oil revenues. DfID and the Government of south Sudan must try to decentralise their assistance away from Juba further towards the states and regional centres where security allows. I wholly endorse what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury said about the role of churches. It is essential that aid agencies make the best use of civil society and the latest techniques of self-reliance to ensure that the south has a secure future after the referendum.
There will undoubtedly be diversion of funds, corruption and a lack of accountability; this is a sine qua non of working in the very poorest countries of the world. However, a new LSE study-I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Judd, was behind some of its work-says that a legal education and enforcement of the rule of law will ensure, in a country such as Sudan, that even a highly traditional tribal society can build up the necessary structures to make development work. Even after years of civil war it is possible to reach agreements based on the latest models of conflict resolution derived from experience in other countries. This strategy is also true of Afghanistan, if only we could follow it.
Baroness Flather: My Lords, I am delighted to see the noble Lords, Lord Howell and Lord Astor, on the Front Bench. We have been friends and colleagues for a long time and it is a great pleasure to see them both on the government Front Bench. Secondly, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, for what she said about women. I am very pleased that she was appointed a special representative to look after the interests of women. I am delighted and hope she will continue to do that in her capacity as shadow Minister.
I will speak also about rats and Poles, and human rights. I am not impressed by the frankly ridiculous example of these Poles eating rats. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, is not in his place. Everybody talks about human rights but they forget that half the population of developing countries have no human rights. That is what I want to make clear. Who and what are we talking about today? As far as I know, nobody has mentioned women except the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock. They are half the population of developing countries but they have no rights and no life. One woman dies in childbirth every minute of every day. Sixty-five thousand die in botched abortions.
When I went to the conference in Addis Ababa-the latest of those which started with the Cairo conference-the Saudis and the Holy See refused to allow the term
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When Gordon Brown returned from his first visit to Africa, he said that women are the agents of change. Indeed they are, but they have not been treated as such. They have not been given the opportunities to be agents of change. They are not only agents of change but at the heart of everything. They are at the heart of population increase because 41 per cent of women have no access to family planning.
In 1950-60 years ago-this planet had 2.6 billion people. In 60 years the population of this planet has risen to 6.8 billion and is expected to go up by between 2 and 3 billion more by 2050. Where is the water to come from? Where is the food to come from? Nine million children already die before they reach the age of five. Another thing that Gordon Brown famously said was that if you do not save the mothers, you cannot save the children. You have to save the mothers to save the children. You have to help them to have control over their own fertility. If they do not have control over their own fertility, how can they stop having children who then die of hunger, disease and malnutrition? India has the largest number of people with malnutrition. Forty per cent of Africans go to bed hungry every night. Those are the facts you should keep in mind. Of those 40 per cent of Africans, you will find that 30 per cent are women.
Seventy per cent of Africa's agriculture is looked after by women at barely subsidence level. If somebody had the sense to go there and set up small co-operatives, they would feed Africa. Why is the money not being spent on those things? I agree that we have to have defence but we are all on the same planet. If we do not do something, we will all suffer. We talk about climate change and this, that and the other. The poor do not consume very much-that is the way it is put. The Americans consume because they have the stuff to consume. The poor do not consume because they have nothing to consume, but whatever they have, they consume. Trees are being cut and the land is being turned into-I have forgotten the word, but it does not grow anything. We have to think about those things. That is the future-children and women dying of malnutrition and diseases and nobody cares at all.
We heard about South Africa where the World Cup will be held. Have you seen how many women get raped in South Africa? Most women get raped possibly at least once a week. It is just endemic. That is the
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Lord Luke: My Lords, if your Lordships have read the newspapers over the past few years, you could be forgiven for believing that we had an army, possibly a small air force, but probably no navy. Yet our Armed Forces, as we all know, are an integral whole and are always dependent on each other for support in the various diverse circumstances when they may be called upon to fight for Queen and country. In the future this is likely to be even more the case. It is therefore absolutely essential that all three services are ready and fully equipped to meet whatever contingency may arise at any time in this uncertain world. We must now naturally look first to Afghanistan where our forces are fighting a particularly unpleasant war very bravely and with great competence. But are we winning? If not, why not? What can we do now to rectify the situation and at the same time always try to avoid heavy casualties by constantly improving equipment and perhaps changing practices?
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