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

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 2:31 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of Adam Holloway Adam Holloway Conservative, Gravesham 2:31 pm, 1st April 2009

As I understand it, the Bill has two objectives: to amend the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and to amend the United Nations Personnel Act 1997. That is extremely relevant. Only a few weeks ago, I was with my hon. and gallant Friend Mr. Swire in Gaza, looking at, among other things, the enormous damage done to the UN compound in Gaza city and hearing about the deaths of about a dozen UN personnel during the recent conflict there. Also, as a television reporter at ITN, I spent considerable time in Bosnia, where I saw the importance of UN organisations operating effectively and saving many lives. I am therefore acutely aware of the need for both unambiguous markings and the protection of personnel.

The first aim marks a new stage in the use of protective and distinctive emblems to cover the work of people who bring relief to the victims of battle, whether civilian or military—the scenes are all too familiar on our television sets. The legislation does that by introducing and legalising the new additional emblem, which is intended to be both protective and indicative, being marked on vehicles and on the armbands and uniforms of personnel in the field. As we have discussed, the legislation also covers penalties for the misuse or abuse of the new symbol and, as I understand it, the existing symbols.

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