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

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 1:56 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs) 1:56 pm, 1st April 2009

I would certainly agree that sanctions have not been effective enough. Indeed, I was just about to say that it is all very well passing a Bill, but if the protection is available but is not used we are providing words rather than action. It is important that legislation is available and provides a first step, but the international community needs the political will to act against breaches. In the recent events in Gaza, the UN gave all the co-ordinates of its facilities to the Israeli authorities, but it still ended up being bombed, and that clearly requires an international investigation.

The difficulty with organisations such as the UN is whether independent investigations will be subject to a veto. Where there is evidence that war crimes might have occurred, I strongly feel that they should be investigated and people held to account, regardless of what country they are from or, indeed, in what country the offences were committed. Legal protection does not solve the problem, but having it on the statute book helps to provide a deterrent and gives us the tools to pursue justice. However, there must be the political will to pursue that justice.

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