Iraq (Relief and Reconstruction)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:21 pm on 24th March 2003.

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Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development 4:21 pm, 24th March 2003

Throughout the events in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and now Iraq, the relationships between my Department and the Ministry of Defence have become ever closer. The nature of conflict in this disorderly post-cold war era, in which one finds humanitarian crisis and military action side by side, is becoming a pattern, and it means that we must find new ways of organising ourselves. Those relationships are strong and growing ever stronger.

There are absolute duties under the Ottawa convention to record any use of munitions that may damage civilians, and the British military fully adheres to all international treaties and humanitarian obligations. Our troops always de-mine in the first instance, as they are trying to do in the waterways of Iraq now, so that they can bring in humanitarian supplies. Thereafter, we will probably bring in UNMAS, the UN body that looks for mines, because Iraq will have to be de-mined if it is to be reconstructed.