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United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 21st March 2011.

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Photo of Ed Miliband Ed Miliband Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 4:16 pm, 21st March 2011

To be fair to the Prime Minister, he conducted this debate in the right terms. Let me say to the hon. Gentleman that today is not the day for party political point-scoring. Let me say this also: in

2005, when Tony Blair made the decision that he made, voices were not raised against him, because there was no sign of a popular uprising in Libya. What people worried about was Colonel Gaddafi—and the Prime Minister eloquently described the problems and dangers posed by him—possessing nuclear weapons and threatening the rest of the world, and I think that Tony Blair was right to try to bring him into the international community.

A debate is often conducted about rights to intervene, but this debate is about not rights but responsibilities. The decade-long debate about the “responsibility to protect” speaks precisely to this question. As the House will know, the responsibility to protect was adopted in 2005 at the world summit and was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council, and it should help to frame our debate today. It identifies a “responsibility to react” to

“situations of compelling human need with appropriate measures…and in extreme cases military intervention”.

It identifies four cautionary tests which will help us in this debate as we consider intervention:

“right intention, last resort, proportional means and reasonable prospects”.