United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 21st March 2011.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Labour, Blackburn 5:19 pm, 21st March 2011

Two weeks ago, I re-watched “Hotel Rwanda”, the chilling film portrayal of the massacres of the defenceless civilians who were hacked to pieces by the so-called forces of law and order because they had the misfortune to belong to the wrong ethnic group. In July 2005, when the UK had the EU presidency, I went to Srebrenica in Bosnia for the 10th anniversary commemoration of the day in 1995 when 10,000 unarmed civilians were brutally murdered by the forces of law and order because, in that case, they had had the misfortune to belong to the wrong religious group.

In Rwanda and Bosnia, the UN solemnly considered what it should do. In both theatres, there were already blue-hatted UN troops on the ground, but they stood by as the massacres took place in front of them. Those troops were there as peacekeepers, but there was no peace to keep—rather, peace urgently needed to be made.

Doing nothing in the face of evil is as much a decision with consequences as doing something. This resolution is historically significant not just on its own terms, but because, as we heard from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, this is first occasion on which the Security Council has acted decisively upon the words relating to the responsibility to protect, which were agreed in the UN General Assembly in 2005, and in Security Council resolution 1674 2006.