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Promoting Democracy and Human Rights

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 6:44 pm on 13th October 2008.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 6:44 pm, 13th October 2008

There is a chance of that; all I am saying is that there will be other pressures on that presidency. If Mr. Obama appoints people such as Susan Rice, Tony Lake and others, some of whom served in the Clinton Administration and are well known in Europe, we can feel reasonably confident. Even a McCain presidency would be a significant improvement, in many respects, on what we had to deal with under President Bush. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend Mr. Drew says that that would not be difficult. I do not want to go into that; I want to discuss the future.

I wish to discuss a concern that has been touched on in the reference to the league of democracies. John McCain has surrounded himself with advisers, including Fred Kagan, who advocate a position of saying, in effect, that the United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan, and perhaps some other countries, should set themselves up outside the UN system and just go ahead as a kind of coalition of the willing on a grand scale. That is extremely dangerous, as such an approach would set back the cause of democracy. If the world's largest democracy, India, would not be part of that—I am sure that it would not be—and if the largest and most diverse country in democratic terms in Africa, South Africa, which, on paper, has the most pluralistic guarantees of human rights and civil liberties of any country in the world, was not part of it either, that would damage the call made so eloquently by Eleanor Roosevelt and the people of the United States when they played such a key role in establishing the United Nations system in the 1940s.