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

The hon. Gentleman is right, and we will miss his presence in the Chamber later. The term "peace building" does not have an agreed definition but, according to the UN, it covers a wide range of activities associated with capacity building, reconciliation and societal transformation. He will know that peace building is a long process that happens after violent conflict has slowed or come to a halt. The Bill is important because it recognises that there has been a change in the work that UN personnel do on our behalf

I said earlier that UN humanitarian workers face an impossible choice, one that none of us would want to make. However, we should do everything possible to make sure that those courageous men and women acting in our name should not have to confront that choice. If they are to continue to fulfil their vital roles in the most difficult of situations, they must have the full weight of international law behind them. When we held the EU presidency, we played a leading role in securing the adoption of the optional protocol by the General Assembly. By ratifying the optional protocol, the UK will once again demonstrate its commitment to protecting humanitarian aid workers—a commitment that I know all right hon. and hon. Members share.

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