Yesterday the House of Commons debated democracy and human rights. A number of Conservative MPs made interesting contributions.
Tony Baldry, chairman of the International Development select committee, highlighted the desperate situation in Sudan:
"Before we move on from Sudan, let me point out that Darfur shows the fragility of the international community’s ability to support the emerging norm of the international community’s responsibility to protect. The matter is not just about the failure of the Security Council to enforce that; the international community does not have the military lift capacity to do so either. We are hoping that things in Darfur will not get worse and that something will turn up. There is no UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, effectively, and there is no real process in Darfur. The responsibility to protect is just being forgotten."
David Lidington, part of the Shadow Foreign Affairs team, indicated his determination to make the promotion of human rights a central plank of foreign policy:
"The promotion of human rights should not be seen as an add-on, but as an integral part of our thinking, incorporated in, for example, our national security strategy and our policies on international development. For instance, I should like us to build plans for the reduction and eradication of human trafficking into our poverty reduction programmes, and to find a way in which to integrate our concern for human rights into the pursuit of millennium development goals."
Meg Munn MP, Foreign Office Minister: "Chancellor Merkel was clear that all African countries should be invited to the summit, and we agree. However, we have always said that Zimbabwe should be represented, but not by President Mugabe."
Keith Simpson MP, Shadow Foreign Minister: "We welcome the Prime Minister’s statement and I am glad that we have moved on from our debate in July, when the Under-Secretary was unable to give us the guarantee that the Prime Minister would not go to the EU-Africa conference. Following the comments of the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) about Chancellor Merkel, do the Government believe that we need to generate additional EU sanctions against Zimbabwe? In particular, does she believe that the EU could go much further and home in on some of the more obnoxious members of the Zimbabwean regime, such as Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, who is a leading friend of President Mugabe and helps finance the regime? Does she agree that it is disgraceful that he can still travel abroad and that we cannot impose sanctions on him?"
Meg Munn MP: "It is important to examine sanctions carefully. European Union targeted measures are there precisely to ensure that they do not further hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. On the specific issues that the hon. Gentleman raises, we have already argued for Gideon Gono to be added to the EU list. We will continue to do that, and the Home Secretary has excluded him from the United Kingdom."
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