Saturday, July 03, 2004

Zimbabwe: Brit HoC debates Zim

Thursday in the British House of Commons, a long (and lively) debate about Zimbabwe ...

Here is an article on the debate.

I do like to read the primary sources when available so I read through the transcript of the debate ... found it completely engrossing ... excerpted the following bits.

Jack Straw -- Foreign Secretary
Mr. [Nick] Gibb: In March this year, the Prime Minister made an important speech on global terror in which he, in effect, announced a new doctrine of intervention in cases in which states "oppress and brutalise their people", which he rightly saw as a future source of international terror. That was an impressive and important speech, but I am unclear about how the new doctrine applies to countries such as Zimbabwe, particularly in view of other international commitments in respect of our troops.

Mr. Straw: I shall go through the things we have done, and the things we are not going to do, in a moment. If we are to deal with the Zimbabwe issue, however, we must avoid doing what Robert Mugabe wants most, and making this a bilateral dispute between the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. That is at the heart of Mugabe's strategy.

[...] I have to say, however, that I have received no invitations from anyone in Zimbabwe, least of all the Movement for Democratic Change, for us to take military action.

[...] Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes) (Con): [...] I ask the right hon. Gentleman again this simple question, which is an important one in terms of human rights: what is the difference between ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and ethnic cleansing in Zimbabwe?

Mr. Straw: Of course the right hon. and learned Gentleman understands that where there is ethnic cleansing, there is ethnic cleansing. The really serious ethnic cleansing—given that he wishes to lower this debate to a partisan knockabout—took place when he was supporting a Conservative Government in 1985, when 20,000 died in what was plain ethnic cleansing. The then Government, far from taking military action against the Mugabe regime, applauded it and said, "Oh well, they've got a bit of a security problem."

[...] Mr. Straw: If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I want to deal with an issue that is central to this debate, and which my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead raised earlier: the role of the international community, particularly the United Nations.

We were able to take action in respect of Iraq because of its defiance of mandatory UN Security Council resolutions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead is familiar with the story. Also, we took action in Afghanistan in pursuit of instructions from the Security Council, and in respect of Kosovo, although there was a period when we were acting without direct mandate; that action was endorsed by the Security Council retrospectively.

There has been no Security Council resolution in respect of Zimbabwe, and let me explain to the House why. We discuss Zimbabwe with the United Nations very regularly—particularly with the UN secretariat and agencies—and it is fully aware of the situation. Its own programmes are very actively engaged in providing food and other aid. For three years, at the instigation of the United Kingdom, the European Union has tabled a resolution in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, drawing attention to the widespread violation of human rights by the Government of Zimbabwe. Regrettably, other African members of the UNCHR have used procedural motions to block discussion of those resolutions. That highlights the fact that many countries, including Zimbabwe's neighbours, see the situation differently from us. Exposing those differences in a body such as the UNCHR is one thing; but it is my belief that it would be counter-productive to do so in so high-profile an arena as the UN Security Council, as some Members have suggested doing. I am as certain as I can be that President Mugabe would dearly like us to seek action by the Security Council and then fail, as that would deliver him the propaganda coup of exposing divisions within the international community. Our view is that doing so now—to try but to fail—would put the cause of democracy in Zimbabwe back, not forward.

[...] As I have already said, there are three things that we are not going to do. First, we will not impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe since this would only hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. Secondly, as we have spelled out, we will not send in troops—for reasons that I hope that the whole House accepts. Thirdly—I invite the right hon. and learned Member for Devizes to take note—we will not play Mugabe's game by making this a "UK versus Zimbabwe" issue. We are stronger and he is weaker when we are part of an international coalition for change, not running our own isolated campaign.(source)
The debate goes on ... starting on this page, the debate turns to what African countries are doing to deal with Zimbabwe (the peer-review mechanism under NEPAD comes up) ... as does cricket.