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

It is true that the protocol has to be applied through domestic criminal law, and that we are not able to track whether there have been prosecutions of people who have attacked UN personnel. However, the protocol is designed to correct the weakness in coverage that does reflect the current situation. That is why the Bill is before the House today.

Thankfully, the global conflicts that typified the first half of the 20th century have been avoided, but continuing regional, bilateral and internal conflicts have brought just as much suffering to the people caught up in them. The Red Cross and Red Crescent has worked to minimise that suffering, but the UN high commissioner for refugees told the Security Council earlier this year that the deliberate targeting of humanitarian workers in such conflicts has increased. As well as being deeply shocking, that worrying new trend puts UN humanitarian staff in an impossibly difficult situation. Do they act to keep themselves and their colleagues safe, or do they continue to try to deliver effective humanitarian assistance to those desperately in need?

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