On the 8th October 2013, Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospects for a United Nations-led settlement in Syria supported by the European Union, the United States, Russia and China.
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: It is well known that to have a peace process that works all the relevant parties must be gathered together, not just the moderates. Can the Minister assure us that, at Geneva II, the more extreme nations will be involved, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and so on, as well as the opposition groups, both internal and external? Will they all be there?
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The right reverend Prelate may be aware that the Geneva communiqué was for the first time adapted and supported by the UN Security Council as part of this resolution. That effectively means that the opposition and the regime have committed to being part of the Geneva II process. Which other states are part of that process depends very much on what they would be prepared to endorse, and whether they would be prepared to agree to the Geneva communiqué. At this stage, Iran has not done that.
“In civil wars, those who are internal to the civil conflict fight for their lives, necessarily. Those who are external have a responsibility, if they get involved at all, to fight for the outcome. That outcome must be one that improves the chances of long-term peace and reconciliation.”
On 29th August 2013, the House of Lords was recalled to take note and debate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, spoke during the debate. He urged that all intermediate steps before opening fire should be taken and expressed concern that intervention from abroad would declare open season on Christian communities in the country and wider region, which have already been devastated. He argued that such a consequence needed to be balanced against the consequences of inaction and that intervention would have to be effective in preventing any further use or promotion of chemical weapons and make it more possible for Syria and the Middle East to be places without millions of refugees.
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much the opportunity to speak later in this debate because of the extraordinary quality of many of the contributions that have been made and how much one can learn by listening to them. Like many noble Lords I have some experience in the region, partly from this role that I have and from recent visits and contact with many faith leaders of all three Abrahamic faiths, and through 10 years of, from time to time, working on reconciliation projects.
I do not intend to repeat the powerful points that have been made on international law, which is itself based on the Christian theory of just war. That has been said very eloquently. However, I want to pick up a couple of points. First, it has been said, quite rightly, that there is as much risk in inaction as there is in action. In a conflict in another part of the world—a civil conflict in which I was mediating some years ago—a general said to me, “We have to learn that there are intermediate steps between being in barracks and opening fire”. The reality is that, until we are sure that all those intermediate steps have been pursued, just war theory says that the step of opening fire is one that must only be taken when there is no possible alternative whatever under any circumstances. As the noble Lord, Lord Alli, just said very clearly and very eloquently, the consequences are totally out of our hands once it has started. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks during debate on use of chemical weapons in Syria”
On 24th July 2013, the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, received written answers to questions on Lebanon and Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to build the resilience of the Lebanese army to respond to the security situation on its border with Syria.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The UK is providing an additional £10 million of assistance to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in their mission to secure Lebanon’s border with Syria. The package of non-lethal assistance includes mobility, communications, protection and observation equipment and associated training. The package was discussed by the then Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, with the LAF commander during his visit to Lebanon on 4-5 July.
** Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield – Lebanon and Syria (Written Answers)”
On 24th July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received written answers to questions on Egypt and the Gulf States.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prospects for political reconciliation in Egypt.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi):We are in contact with all sides in Egypt, and have urged all to resolve their differences through dialogue, and avoid violence. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), was in regular contact with former Foreign Minister Amr, most recently on 8 July to discuss the situation in Egypt. We have requested contact with the new interim government and continue to be in contact with the army and Muslim Brotherhood. It is important that Egypt makes an early return to democratic processes, including free and fair elections, and that those processes are inclusive.
Continue reading “Bishop of Derby – Written Answers”
On 22nd July 2013 the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received an answer to a written question on the subject of freedom of religion.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the European Union guidelines on promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, agreed by the Council of Ministers on 24 June.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): We worked closely with EU partners to develop guidelines for EU country offices to strengthen their work on the right to freedom of religion or belief across the world. We were gratified that these guidelines took as their original inspiration the UK’s own freedom of religion or belief toolkit. We believe the guidelines are a valuable tool for EU country offices and the embassies of individual EU member states to use, and look forward to strengthened joint working with our EU partners to ensure that the right to freedom of religion or belief is more widely guaranteed and that any violations are tackled in the most effective manner.
On the 13th May 2013 Baroness Young of Hornsey asked the government a question about the UK clothing sector. The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price asked a supplementary question regarding the safety of workers in factories overseas and highlighted the importance for UK companies to have representatives on the ground to ensure the safety of the workforce not just to maintain manufacturing standards.
Continue reading “Bishop of Bath & Wells highlights need for UK clothing companies to ensure safety of overseas workers”