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Africa

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Foreign Secretary 4:13 pm, 30th March 2009

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes a deep interest in these issues, and he raises a very important point. There are too many signs of buyer's remorse about the responsibility to protect. Some of those who signed up in 2005 are now beginning to realise what they were letting themselves in for and are much less keen on the consequences. That poses a threat to the impetus that was provided by the responsibility to protect. It is important to emphasise that that was not a licence or mandate for "the west" to go marching around the world imposing its own values. It was first a responsibility on Governments not to abuse their own people and secondly a responsibility on the international community to intervene in the most extreme circumstances when countries failed in their responsibilities to their own people. The responsibility to protect lies in the first instance with a sovereign Government. It is only when that responsibility is broken that our responsibilities come into play.

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about helicopters, and he will know that we debate helicopter capacity in debates on subjects from Afghanistan onwards. Too often, helicopters for development come at the bottom of the queue. I think that I am right in saying that the UK and France have been active together in trying to push the issue, but he is right that we have a long way to go before we can show people that we have made real progress.

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