Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [ Lords]

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office 12:45 pm, 1st April 2009

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill will give effect to two international agreements. The aim of both is to protect those who help others caught up in conflict—those who risk their lives to provide humanitarian support to others. The enactment of the Bill will enable the UK to become a party to the third additional protocol to the Geneva conventions and the optional protocol to the convention on the safety of the United Nations and associated personnel.

This is a fitting moment to seek support for improvements to the Geneva conventions as it is this year that the conventions celebrate their 60th anniversary. They are universally recognised as enshrining the main principles of international humanitarian law. They oblige every state in the world to abide by the rules of war in order to limit the effects of armed conflict. They help to ensure that the wounded and the sick receive treatment; that prisoners and refugees are treated humanely; and that all civilians are protected from unnecessary harm.

The UK has, of course, always been at the forefront of developing and promoting the rules in the Geneva conventions and, by enacting this Bill, we will show the UK's support for the latest improvements to these rules and our continuing commitment to the development of international humanitarian law.

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