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Military Action Overseas: Parliamentary Approval

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:20 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley 2:20 pm, 17th April 2018

I start by saying from a purely personal point of view that I accept that, on occasions, the use of military force is necessary to achieve humanitarian aims. Regardless of which Benches we sit on, I think most of us in this House accept that that probably has to be correct as a principle. What most of us are now debating are the circumstances in which we take such decisions, and in the few minutes available to me, I will concentrate my remarks on that specific point.

It is worth starting from the perspective—a lot of right hon. and hon. Members have argued this—that the United Nations should be front and centre in the decision-making process. In principle, that sounds like a good thing. My right hon. Friend Hilary Benn quoted articles 3 and 28 of the universal declaration of human rights, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 1948, and they bear repetition. Article 3 states:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Article 28 states:

“Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”

They are laudable objectives that all of us could easily subscribe to. The difficulty we have with the United Nations, however, is that the way in which Russia can exercise its veto at the Security Council—as it does regularly and repeatedly—means that the achievement of the high ideals set out by the United Nations in 1948 becomes increasingly difficult when one permanent member of the Security Council effectively prevents those ideals being carried out in practice through the use of a veto.