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

That is a matter on which the appropriate movement in-country will make a decision. As I will go on to say, our default position will be to use the red cross; but in all cases, we will consider the circumstances of the conflict and make a decision for our own part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The creation of the red crystal was part of a package that paved the way for the Israeli and the Palestinian national societies to join the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 2006. That has offered the movement the opportunity to achieve its goal of universality—again, something that we would all support.

The United Kingdom signed the third protocol in December 2005. Once the protocol is ratified, our Defence Medical Services will be able to use any of the three distinctive emblems. As I have already stated, we will continue to use the red cross as our main humanitarian emblem; but in any conflict, our armed forces will be able to choose the emblem that is likely to afford the maximum protection to their medical services and their patients. For instance, British troops deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq can use the red crystal or the red crescent, rather than the red cross, as a protective symbol for their medical units if they believe that doing so would improve their safety.

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