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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 30th March 2009.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin Labour, Sunderland South 6:02 pm, 30th March 2009

Forgive me, I will not; I am running out of time.

Finally, I wish to make one tentative point. The failed state will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century. To be honest, in some states the scale of the failure will be too great for us to be able to do much about it. However, there are countries that no amount of one-off intervention can rescue. We may have to cast aside our liberal instincts and go for something more drastic one day—rule by UN mandate, perhaps for a generation, subject of course to referendums of the local people at regular intervals to check that that is what they want. I stayed with the American ambassador in Liberia—Ambassador Blaney, a very brave man who saved Liberia from the ultimate catastrophe—and that was his view. Liberia was then on its fourth outside intervention. It now has breathing space and a wonderful woman President who must be given all the help that she needs, but if there were a fifth or sixth failure, there would come a point at which we would have to say, "We cannot carry on like this." If Sierra Leone were to go under again, we would have to cast aside our liberal instincts, which are all in the opposite direction, and recognise that something different had to be tried if we were to make a difference. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it will not solve vast problems such as those in the Congo or even Somalia, but for some of the smaller African states and perhaps one or two elsewhere—I believe that it happened in East Timor for a while—it will have to be contemplated.

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