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

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 1:11 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 1:11 pm, 1st April 2009

The hon. Gentleman makes his point forcefully, and the Minister and Members will have heard what he says.

It is disappointing that more than 10 years after the convention was adopted, fewer than half the member states of the United Nations have signed up to it. Does the Minister have reason to believe that the addition of the optional protocol will encourage more states to become parties both to the original convention and to the protocol? That would be encouraging. I hope that she can also clarify whether the offences created in the Bill exist only in respect of acts committed on the territory of a country that is a party to the protocol and to the convention, or whether those offences are more strictly defined so that if an attack that qualified under the Bill as a criminal offence took place on UN personnel in any country of the world, the individuals responsible could be brought to justice here. That is an important point that we need to understand not only in appreciating the virtues of the Bill but in judging its practical efficacy in the immediate future.

I am sorry to have detained the Minister for so long with detailed questions, but I wanted to take this opportunity to probe some of the details of the Bill, which, after all, creates new criminal offences that are binding on all our citizens. However, I strongly support the principle of the Bill, and I will support it if we vote on it.

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