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Date : 09-11-2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Speech: Minister for the Middle East speech on the situation in Yemen

With permission, Mr Speaker I would like to make a statement to the House on the humanitarian and political situation in Yemen and the implications of the conflict for regional security.

Her Majesty’s Government remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the impact recent restrictions are having on what was already the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and largest ever cholera outbreak.

We recognise the risk of a severe deterioration of the humanitarian situation, if restrictions are not quickly removed and call on all parties to ensure immediate access for commercial and humanitarian supplies through all Yemen’s land, air and sea ports.

But we should be clear about the reality of the conflict in Yemen. The Saudi-led Coalition launched a military intervention after a rebel insurgency took the capital by force and overthrew the legitimate Government of Yemen as recognised by the UN Security Council. Ungoverned spaces in Yemen are being used by non-state actors and terrorist groups to launch attacks against regional countries, international shipping lanes and the Yemeni people.

As my Rt Hon friend the Foreign Secretary has made clear, we strongly condemn the attempted missile attack against Riyadh on 4 November. This attack, which has been claimed by the Houthis, deliberately targeted a civilian area and was intercepted over an international airport.

The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting Saudi Arabia to address its legitimate security needs.

We are therefore deeply concerned by reports that Iran has provided the Houthis with ballistic missiles. This is contrary to the arms embargo established by UN Security Council Resolution 2216 and serves to threaten regional security and prolong the conflict.

I understand that a UN team is currently visiting Riyadh to investigate these reports. It is essential that the UN conducts a thorough investigation. The UK stands ready to share its expertise to support this process.

But Mr Speaker, we recognise that those who suffer most from this conflict are the people of Yemen.

We understand why the Saudi-led Coalition felt obliged to temporarily close Yemen’s ports and airports in order to strengthen enforcement of the UN mandated arms embargo. It is critical that international efforts to disrupt illicit weapons flows are strengthened.

At the same time, it is vital that commercial and humanitarian supplies of food, fuel and medicine are able to reach vulnerable Yemeni people, particularly in the north – where 70% of those in need live.

Even before the current restrictions, 21 million were already in need of humanitarian assistance and 7 million were only a single step away from famine. 90% of food in Yemen is imported and three quarters of that comes via the ports of Hodeidah and Salif. No other ports in Yemen have the capacity to make up that shortfall.

Our NGO partners in Yemen are already reporting that water and sewerage systems in major cities have stopped operating because of a lack of fuel. This means that millions no longer have access to clean water and sanitation, in a country already suffering from the worst cholera outbreak in modern times.

The current restrictions on access for both commercial and humanitarian shipments risk making an already dire situation immeasurably worse for the Yemeni people. We have heard the UN’s stark warnings about the risk of famine.

We call on all parties to ensure immediate access for commercial and humanitarian supplies to avert the threat of starvation and disease faced by millions of civilians.

We also call for the immediate reopening of Hodeidah port and the resumption of UN flights into Sana’a and Aden airports, as the Foreign Office statement on 15 November made clear. Restrictions on humanitarian flights are causing problems for humanitarian workers, including British nationals, who wish to enter or exit the country.

We have been urgently and proactively seeking a resolution of this situation. Our Ambassador in Riyadh has been in frequent contact with the Saudi Foreign Minister. My Rt Hon friend the Foreign Secretary has discussed the situation in Yemen with the Crown Prince, with whom we have emphasised the urgency of addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis. My Rt Hon friend the Secretary of State for International Development has spoken to both the UN Secertary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs since about the situation in Yemen since her appointment on 9 November.

We are also continuing to work closely with other regional and international partners, including the UN. On 18 November, my Rt Hon friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to the UN Secretary-General. Central to this discussion was how the security concerns of Saudi Arabia can be addressed to enable these restrictions to be lifted. It is vitally important that the UN and Saudi Arabia enter a meaningful and constructive dialogue.

More broadly, we will continue to support the people of Yemen through the provision of lifesaving humanitarian supplies. The UK is the fourth largest humanitarian donor to Yemen, and the second largest to the UN appeal – committing £155 million to Yemen for 2017/18. UKaid has already provided food to almost two million people and clean water to over one million more.

Mr Speaker, the only way to bring long-term stability to Yemen is through a political solution. That is why peace talks remain the top priority. The Houthis must abandon pre-conditions and engage with the UN Special Envoy’s proposals.

The UK has played, and continues to play, a leading role in diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution. This includes bringing together key international actors – including the US, Saudi, Emirati and Omani allies – through the Quad and Quint process. We intend to convene another such meeting shortly. It is vital that we work together to refocus the political track.

The UK will also continue to play a leading role on Yemen through the UN. In June, we proposed and supported the UN Security Council Presidential Statement which expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The statement called for an end to the fighting, a return to UN-led peace talks and stressed the importance of unhindered humanitarian access. It is vital that the words of the text are converted into action. The international community’s unified and clear demands must be respected.

I commend this statement to the House.

Speech: Mark Field's speech at the Asian-European Meeting, Myanmar

Introduction

It is an honour to represent the UK at this ASEM Foreign Ministers’ meeting. It is a particular pleasure to see a democratically-elected leader of Myanmar in the Chair.

Myanmar’s path towards peace and democracy has been long and difficult. Major challenges remain. The UK is proud to have been a consistent advocate for human rights and democracy in Myanmar over many years. We continue to work with the civilian government to promote peace, sustainable development and fundamental rights for all communities in Myanmar.

We are particularly grateful to you, Madam Chair, for your willingness to address the issue of Rakhine in the margins of this meeting. We welcome your inclusive vision for Rakhine and commitment to the right of return for refugees.

I would also like to pay tribute to the generosity of Bangladesh for taking in more than 610,000 refugees over the past 3 months – a huge burden for any country. The UK has given some £47 million in humanitarian support and we stand ready, along with others here, I trust, to contribute further.

UK-Asia

The UK’s links with Asia run deep. They include some of our closest commercial, political and people-to-people links. As we prepare to leave the European Union, our commitment to ASEM and to Asia will endure.

Rules-based System

ASEM brings together countries with a deep commitment to the rules-based international system. Peace and sustainable development in both our regions depend on that system. So I want to highlight two threats to the rules-based system, and four global challenges that can only be addressed through strengthening that system.

North Korea

As many have mentioned, the first regional issue is the threat posed by North Korea‘s reckless nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The unanimous Security Council vote to strengthen sanctions sent the strongest possible signal of international resolve.

We all have a duty to enforce UN sanctions urgently and rigorously.

South China Sea

The second regional issue concerns the South China Sea. We are committed to a Rules-Based Maritime order. European states have a legitimate interest in peace, stability and security even as far away as the South China Sea. The UK’s position remains that all states must respect international law, as reflected in UNCLOS, and seek to settle disputes peacefully, without coercion or the threat of force.

Global Challenges

Turning to the global challenges:

The UK has shown that it is possible to cut emissions while pursuing economic growth. And I hope others will be abe to follow that lead. The Illegal Wildlife Trade not only harms biodiversity but also fosters corruption and undermines the rule of law. I congratulate China on its domestic ivory ban, and Vietnam for hosting the 2016 conference. London hosts the next conference on this issue in 2018. I urge ASEM to support work to combat this criminal trade.

Finally, digital connectivity can and will help enhance the links between Asia and Europe. The internet is increasingly a principal driver of our prosperity and social wellbeing. To ensure this continues, we must work together to tackle cyber-crime, protect online freedoms and abide by the norms of responsible state behaviour. Innovation, R&D will also ensure cyber security for us all.

Speech: "We will not cease in our efforts to stop the use of chemical weapons"

Thank you Mr President.

Last month I was disappointed that a simple technical rollover of the JIM mandate was blocked by Russia. Yesterday I was deeply disappointed that, even after extensive efforts to reach an agreement, a further reasonable attempt to renew the mandate was again vetoed by Russia. That veto seriously damaged my hope that those using chemical weapons in Syria would be identified and held to account.

But now I am frankly astounded that Russia has rebuffed Japan’s perfectly sensible proposal to ask the Secretary General and the Director General of the OPCW to consider the structure and methodology of the JIM. This third veto in a month clearly exposes, if it wasn’t already obvious, Russia’s determination to protect their Syrian ally, whatever the harm that causes to the ban on the use of chemical weapons, to the wider international system of rules, to Russia’s own reputation.

This council set up the JIM unanimously, as the most appropriate mechanism to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. And since its inception it has had many successes. Its experienced and expert staff have demonstrated complete impartiality. Its investigations have been professional, thorough, rigorous. It has concluded that the Syrian regime is responsible for blatant, repeated use of chemical weapons against its own people, in an increasingly reckless and deadly manner. It has also found that Daesh is responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The failure to renew the JIM is a failure to uncover the truth behind the conduct of all actors who use chemical weapons in Syria.

As I said yesterday, those of us who are committed to upholding the international system will not cease in our efforts to stop the use of chemical weapons, and to identify and hold to account those who use these vile weapons. We will keep going. Not only to bring justice to those who have suffered from the use of these despicable weapons but also to deter those who might think of doing so in future.

Press release: Foreign Secretary in Ireland for high-level talks

Boris Johnson and Simon Coveney discussed the strong, unique and enduring relationship between the UK and Ireland, as well as key foreign policy issues such as Africa and the Middle East, and the protection of human rights.

The Ministers also discussed the UK’s exit from the European Union, and our aims for the future relationship.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

There are no closer friends than the UK and Ireland. Our two nations share a special, unique and enduring bond, which will not change when the UK leaves the European Union.

I am proud to have visited Dublin today to play my part, as the British Foreign Secretary, in that bond, celebrating the contribution British and Irish people make to each other’s nations.

The Foreign Secretary also met Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD, and visited the National Gallery of Ireland where he saw the Sir William Orpen exhibition of First World War paintings.

The final stop on the visit was to Dublin’s Trinity College, where the Foreign Secretary attended an event at the Science Gallery showcasing Science Week. He met members of the Irish science and innovation community and young scientists. The Foreign Secretary heard about the deep ties and collaboration between Irish and British academics and scientific institutions.

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Speech: "Make no mistake, the JIM has succeeded; it is Russia that has failed"

Thank you Mr President.

Today we have reached the end of the road for the Joint Investigative Mechanism. It was a road that all members of this Council set out on together two years ago. We did so in the hope that those using chemical weapons in Syria would be identified and held to account. Thanks to today’s veto, that hope has suffered a serious blow.

The staff of the JIM, under the current and previous leadership panels, worked patiently, diligently to uncover the truth. I pay tribute to them today. Thanks to their efforts, the world now knows what happened in Talamenas, in Sarmin, in Marea, in Qaminas, in Khan Sheikhoun and in Um Housh.

Make no mistake, the JIM has succeeded; it is Russia that has failed.

They have failed in their duties as a permanent member of this Security Council, they have failed as a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, they have failed as a supposed supporter of peace in Syria.

We’ve been here before. This isn’t the first time this year that we have attempted to renew the JIM’s mandate. Less than a month ago, we all sat in this very chamber and watched as Russia vetoed a simple technical rollover of the mandate; a rollover that didn’t judge any party, that didn’t add any conditions.

We have worked tirelessly, through extensive consultations between Council members, to try to understand Russia’s concerns and find a renewal on which we could all agree. The US draft, which we were proud to vote for, was balanced and reasonable.

Russia, on the other hand, has refused to engage constructively. Last month they quoted fantasy and fiction in this Chamber to justify their veto. But in negotiations their experts made abundantly clear why they wouldn’t support the JIM’s renewal. Put simply, they cannot, or rather, they will not accept any investigation that attributes blame to their Syrian allies, no matter how robust the investigation, no matter how clear and solid the evidence.

Russia will say that they engaged, that they put forward an alternative text. Yet their text only sought to undermine and discredit what has already been painstakingly demonstrated - that the Syrian regime is responsible for the blatant, repeated use of chemical weapons against its own people.

The 7th report of the JIM, as we heard last week from the head of the Leadership Panel, details the thorough methodology of the investigation, its consideration of alternative hypotheses, the careful corroboration of sources, and use of independent, internationally-recognised forensic experts for analysis of data.

Faced with this clear, careful consideration and conclusion, Russia made a string of entirely destructive demands in its text and attempted to weaken significantly the remit of the JIM. They demanded that the JIM take samples from a Syrian airbase when the JIM has been crystal clear as to why doing so would not advance the investigation. They demanded that the JIM visit Khan Sheikhoun, where they will face unacceptable risks of attack.

They maligned the impartiality, experience, and expertise of the JIM’s staff, ignoring the thorough, professional report they have produced and Russia’s own original support for the group. Russia demands the JIM listen only to Syrian-approved witnesses, and Syrian accounts of events.

Why should evidence from a party to the conflict, accused of war crimes, carry more weight than the corroborated testimony of victims and observers, and cold laboratory analysis of physical evidence?

Thanks to Russia’s veto today, Daesh fighters will be joining Assad in celebration. The OPCW is currently investigating other cases. This vote means the JIM will not investigate who was responsible for these atrocious crimes.

Russia’s transparent use of its Security Council status to block this investigation again shows that, as a party to the conflict, it cannot credibly play a leading role in the political process, such as convening the Syrian parties in Sochi.

Mr President, most of us here are totally committed to upholding the norm against the use of chemical weapons. We will not be stopped by what has happened today. We will keep working to identify and bring to account those who have used these vile weapons, and to deter those who might think of doing so in future.

Russia once played a responsible role in securing the destruction of much of Syria’s chemical arsenal and in creating the JIM. Regrettably, today the world can see that Russian policy now is to protect the Syrian state, whatever the cost to Russia’s reputation.

Thank you.

Speech: UK and Ireland can strengthen ties via Brexit: article by Boris Johnson

Of the 52 countries I have visited as foreign secretary, Ireland is more closely tied to Britain by kinship and history than just about any other. When I arrive in Dublin today, those special bonds will be at the front of my mind.

Almost a million of our respective citizens live in one another’s countries: there are 250,000 Britons in Ireland and 700,000 Irish nationals in the United Kingdom. Ireland is the only land neighbour of the UK and we sell each other goods and services worth more than €1 billion every week.

So as the UK leaves the European Union, I understand the importance of addressing the unique circumstances of Ireland, including the land border. I know the concerns about the possible impact on businesses and livelihoods. And I realise that, for Irish people, the future of the Border is not simply a matter of economics. Above all, there is the need to preserve the ties that exist between communities across the island of Ireland.

Common Travel Area

I am determined to work alongside the Irish Government to reach a solution that meets all our needs. We share a commitment to upholding the Common Travel Area and Belfast Agreement. We have already made good progress on maintaining the Common Travel Area. No Irish national will be required to apply for settled status; the long-standing and reciprocal rights to work, study and use public services will be maintained. I have no doubt that, with goodwill and ingenuity, an answer can and will be found.

But we are in the middle of a negotiation. Today, I look forward to meeting Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and I am sure we will discuss Britain’s future relationship with Ireland after Brexit.

We will also cover some of the key global issues, while celebrating the unique friendship between our countries. I will reassure Mr Coveney and everyone I meet that Britain’s impending departure from the EU does not amount to the UK cold-shouldering Ireland or turning away; on the contrary, I want to strengthen our ties in the years ahead.

The dry numbers about trade and investment are only part of the picture; the modern story of Anglo-Irish partnership comes from the easy familiarity between our peoples, from the shared task of promoting peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, and from the manifold cultural, scientific and sporting links between our countries. In your National Science Week, I will be meeting young Irish people and learning how they are contributing to Anglo-Irish partnership in technology and innovation. I have no doubt that the talent, friendship and vision of young people from Ireland and the UK will ensure that our friendship endures long into the future.

Outward-looking

And do not believe anyone who says that by leaving the EU, the UK is turning its back on the world. The exact opposite is true: I am determined that the UK will be more engaged and outward-looking than ever before; hence I will be talking to Mr Coveney about the full range of international issues. I want to learn his insights about East Africa, where he recently travelled, and discuss how best to promote our shared values, including freedom of expression and the importance of female education.

Our countries also share long experience of international peacekeeping. Ireland has a proud history of unbroken service to United Nations operations dating back to 1958. Today, more than 600 Irish military personnel are deployed on a range of UN peacekeeping missions, including in Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

Back in January 2015, our countries signed a memorandum of understanding in Dublin Castle, allowing the UK to benefit from Ireland’s unique experience of UN peacekeeping. Since then, your troops have helped to prepare ours for their deployments on UN missions in South Sudan and Somalia.

The friendship between our countries has flourished in recent decades. There was a time when the idea that Britain and Ireland would jointly commemorate the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme – as we did last year – would have been unimaginable. I am determined to stay on the path that leads to an even closer friendship in the decades ahead.

News story: Foreign Secretary statement on UNSC vote to extend the mandate for the Joint Investigative Mechanism

Speaking following the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote on the 16 November, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

It is appalling that the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism has been closed down. We continue to need expert impartial and independent investigations into allegations of chemical attacks in Syria.

Last year the investigators found that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its people on no fewer than 3 occasions. In October, they concluded that the regime used the deadly nerve agent sarin in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April this year, and that Daesh used sulphur mustard for a second time in 2016.

Russia’s veto at the UN Security Council ends the Joint Investigative Mechanism. It can no longer help identify those responsible for use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia’s response to 4 confirmed chemical attacks by the Syrian regime and 2 by Daesh is to shut down further investigation.

The United Kingdom will not let the end of the Joint Investigative Mechanism stop work with international partners to identify and hold accountable those responsible for using chemical weapons.

UK Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft speaks at the UNSC

UK Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft speaking at the UNSC

Read the Ambassador’s speech following the vote.

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Press release: UK dismayed by dissolution of Cambodian opposition party

Mark Field, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, said:

The British government is dismayed to learn of the dissolution of Cambodia’s main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). This effectively renders Cambodia a one-party state in its parliament and delegitimises next year’s General Election.

We renew our calls for the release of CNRP President, Kem Sokha, from detention. We shall consider with partners what further steps we shall take in response to this disturbing development.

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Speech: "It’s clear that Libya now faces a simple choice: a future of stability and security or a return to a past of violence and uncertainty"

Thank you Mr President and thank you Olof for updating us on the work of the Libyan Sanctions Committee and to Ghassan for your thorough and fascinating briefing.

It’s certainly been an eventful two months since you set out your Action Plan for Libya to the General Assembly. Under your guidance, there have been important steps forward to revitalise the Libyan political process. Yet, in recent weeks, violence has escalated again, and it’s clear that Libya now faces a simple choice: a future of stability and security or a return to a past of violence and uncertainty.

Let me start with the positives, and there have been positive developments on the political process. The dialogue committees from both the House of Representatives and the High State Council worked hard to secure agreement on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement. This has taken courage and compromise, but of course it is only a start. Further commitment from all parties is now needed to sustain the momentum and move Libya forward.

In doing so, we shouldn’t lose sight of what is at stake. It’s a real chance now for Libya to establish a truly national government, one that will enjoy the support of both the House of Representatives and the High State Council, and one that will be able to deliver for all its citizens. Further delay however will only prolong the suffering of ordinary Libyans who, I think we can all agree, have suffered for far too long.

We need only look at the recent escalation in violence to see the consequences of delay. The strikes on Derna, which killed 16 civilians, and the recent apparent summary executions in al-Abyar and Warshefana are examples; there are many others. These escalating acts of violence make it unambiguously clear that a political solution is no longer a choice, but a critical necessity for the Libyan people.

We should all be concerned by these continuing human rights violations and abuses across the country, so many of them at the expense of civilians, including migrants. Let us all condemn extra-judicial killings by all parties from all sides of the conflict. The climate of impunity must stop and I reiterate our support for Libyan and international efforts to bring to account those responsible for such crimes.

It is clear from the recent escalation in violence that the existing arms embargo has not cut off the flow of illicit weapons in and out of Libya. This is not only undermining the peace and security of Libya and the region; it is also playing into the hands of terrorists groups who continue to threaten global security. I urge all Member States to make every effort to ensure that the arms embargo is strictly observed.

Engagement between both sides is not only needed for the political process, but also for the economy. A prosperous economy will only be realised if key economic institutions take the steps necessary to introduce important reforms. It is also vital that Libya’s oil resources are used to benefit the country as a whole. I call on all Member States to make sure they continue to do all they can to prevent illegal oil smuggling and to enforce the sanctions regime designed to protect Libya’s oil wealth for the benefit of the Libyan people.

Let me close Mr President by reiterating that the Libyan Political Agreement remains the only valid framework for Libya’s transitional period into 2018. The UK will continue to support the immediate next steps to amend the Agreement and agree a reformed Presidency Council. We will also support subsequent efforts to promote national reconciliation, to agree a longer-term constitution and to prepare for elections. We believe the United Nations must remain firmly in the lead, and the international community must be united and steadfast in our support.

Because put simply, conflict and instability in Libya are hurting the region, they are hurting globally, but most of all, they are hurting Libya’s citizens. So I close by calling on Libya’s leaders, from all sides, to show that they are committed to delivering peace and security for all Libyan people. They must look beyond immediate personal considerations and towards the long-term future of their country. They have a responsibility to make progress, and I urge them to continue to work with Special Representative Salamé and to take the bold steps required to move Libya forward.

Thank you.

Press release: Change of British High Commissioner to Rwanda

Ms Joanne Lomas has been appointed British High Commissioner to the Republic of Rwanda, and Non-resident Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi in succession to Mr William Gelling OBE, who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Ms Lomas will take up her appointment during January 2018.

CURRICULUM VITAE

Full name: Joanne Lomas
Married to: Christopher Finucane
Children: One daughter
2015 – present Windhoek, British High Commissioner
2011 – 2015 Sarajevo, Deputy Head of Mission
2009 FCO, Head, Global Response Centre
2008 FCO, Team Leader, FCO Response Centre
2006 – 2008 FCO, Internal Communication Team Leader & Leadership Conference Project Manager
2001 – 2006 Geneva, UK Mission to the UN, Second Secretary
1997 – 2000 Damascus, Third Secretary
1997 Baghdad UNSCOM, Press Officer/Special Assistant to the Director
1995 – 1997 Arabic language training
1993 – 1995 FCO, Desk Officer, United Nations Department

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