13 Baroness Nye debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Rohingya Refugees

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 16th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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The right reverend Prelate is entirely right about the scale of this crisis. There are 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh—think of the scale of that—with people often living in IDP camps and other temporary accommodation. I do not deny for a moment that the scale of funding has gone down. That is the same with many aid programmes, because of the move from 0.7% to 0.5%. Crucially, it is due also to the diversion of a lot of aid money to support refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan, which I think was entirely the right thing to do. We will be spending another £20 million next year. To put it in context, Britain’s contribution has been almost twice as much as the EU’s over the past seven years. We are playing our role to make sure that this is not the forgotten crisis.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of the Burma Campaign UK. All leaders of the Rohingya community associations have led calls for the British Government, as the penholder on Burma at the UN, to take action. If the British Government are not going to convene a meeting of the UN Security Council to address the failing of the Burmese military to take measures as instructed by the ICJ to prevent further ongoing genocide against the Rohingya, what action are the Government taking to ensure a level of protection for the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar?

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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The noble Baroness is entirely right: we are the penholder, and we take that duty very seriously. We have taken a range of action on this. Fundamentally, we are making sure that aid is going in—and I have just said what our contribution has been—and, secondly, that proper authorities are put in place to stop gender-based violence, collect evidence from the camps and make sure that people are held accountable. The third part of the strategy must be to put pressure on the Government to recognise that this country needs to have proper provision for all its ethnic minorities and parts, and to make sure that there is, effectively, a peace process and a more inclusive set of arrangements for the country, so that everyone can feel that they have a part in its future. Ultimately, no one wants the Rohingya to have to stay in Bangladesh; they should be able to go home.

Myanmar: Health Workers

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 7th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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The noble Lord makes an important point, and I will make sure that that suggestion is conveyed to relevant Ministers and officials. I will add that, according to the World Health Organization, one-third of all attacks on health workers around the world have occurred in Myanmar. This is a real problem. I think the approach adopted in that country by the international community has worked and, like the noble Lord, I do not see any reason why it would not in other areas where we do not recognise the regime.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as a trustee of Burma Campaign UK. The Minister will know that, since the coup in 2021, the military has brutally suppressed its critics and unlawfully attacked civilians on the ground and from the air, including many health workers working in the ethnic areas. While the UK and EU-imposed sanctions on aviation fuel are welcome, will the Minister give assurances that he will keep those sanctions under urgent review as companies change names to avoid sanctions, and look into whether British companies are involved in the provision of third-party services to vessels involved in the shipment of aviation fuel to Myanmar, such as insurance, shipping or financial services? Stopping the military’s relentless bombing campaign on innocent civilians will help those providing humanitarian aid.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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The Government always keep their sanctions policy under review. We are considering a range of further targets and other measures to hold the suppressive, brutal regime to account. It is vital that any sanctions imposed have the desired effect of denying the regime credibility and reducing its access to finance, arms and equipment. Part of that is to tackle the problem identified by the noble Baroness—the use of aviation fuel to facilitate bombing campaigns. That is a focus of the FCDO when it comes to looking at the appropriate sanctions.

Genocide: Bringing Perpetrators to Justice

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 27th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I pay tribute to the work of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and as a trustee of Burma Campaign UK, I will focus on Burma.

For decades the Tatmadaw has been committing human rights violations that break international law. The impunity it has enjoyed only encouraged further crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The genocidal campaign against the Rohingya in 2016 and 2017 caused thousands of deaths, and over 800,000 fled to Bangladesh.

Last year more than 100 parliamentarians of all parties and none, including many in this House, wrote to the Foreign Secretary urging him to formally support the Gambia’s case against Myanmar at the ICJ to protect the Rohingya. Regrettably, the British Government have not fully implemented the recommendations of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, set up in response to the Rohingya genocide as well as the unlawful violations against other ethnic groups in Kachin and Shan states. The letter warned that it was essential to uphold the genocide convention to deter further crimes by the Tatmadaw. Sadly, since then the military has removed the democratically elected NLD Government from office, has imposed military control and is indiscriminately killing Burmese of all ethnicities.

The Minister may reply that the UK has welcomed the Gambia’s case at the ICJ, but he needs to explain why a formal UK intervention may not add value. Furthermore, as a member of the UN Security Council the UK should use its diplomatic standing—especially with our history in Burma, as well as our expertise with the PSVI initiative—to join this action with Canada and the Netherlands. Failure by the UK to show leadership and uphold human rights by formally joining the ICJ case sends a dangerous message that ethnic cleansing and genocide are acceptable tools for repressive Governments around the world. The UK has an historic opportunity to make this a watershed moment in international law, and I hope we take it.

Tuberculosis

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Wednesday 24th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, tackling TB is a crucial part of improving lives. As the noble Lord says, every death from TB is preventable. That is why the UK has been a leading donor on TB for many years; we are consistently among the top three most generous countries. Our research investments have been transformational and have led to at least five new diagnostic tools for TB. Although the pandemic has forced us to take tough decisions, tackling TB remains a priority and global health remains a top UK ODA priority, as set out by the Foreign Secretary just a few days ago. We will provide more information on how we will continue to take a leading role in due course.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab) [V]
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I appreciate what the Minister said about the importance of the Global Fund. He will well know that any delay in funding would set a dangerous precedent and undermine the fund’s ability to disperse those crucial funds. What reassurances can he give about the full and timely dispersal of the UK pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that keeps to the original timetable?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the Global Fund is the principal mechanism that we use to fight TB in developing countries. We believe that the Global Fund has a major role to play in the fight against TB. Our current pledge absolutely reflects this.

Myanmar: Protesters

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Wednesday 10th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I assure the noble Baroness that at the UN, during both our presidency and the current US presidency, we have already convened meetings. A statement has yet to be agreed, but the focus of the Security Council is very much on the situation on the ground. The noble Baroness mentioned Dr Sasa, who is well known in this country; he will always be an important voice. A mission to Myanmar would be a decision for the SG, but of course we are working closely with his office.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the Burma Campaign UK, in which I declare an interest as a board member, is receiving increasingly desperate calls from the brave activists in Burma who do not understand why there is not more concerted international action. Does the Minister agree that if the UK Government formally supported the Gambia in its ICJ case against Myanmar, it would be a strong signal that we are not ignoring the awful events unfolding in Burma and that there is no impunity for the crimes of the Tatmadaw?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the noble Baroness’s substantive point about the ICJ, we are reviewing the situation. We are supportive of the action of the Gambia and looking at interventions where they will best serve the purpose of the people of Myanmar. On international action, we have secured two G7 statements and are working through the UN Security Council and with partners such as the US and Canada, as well as those in the region, to ensure that there is international condemnation and that the focus continues.

Women’s Equality

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 9th March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

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Tabled by
Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to increase women’s equality globally.

Baroness Crawley Portrait Baroness Crawley (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Nye, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in her name on the Order Paper.

Burma: Military Coup

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 2nd February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the noble Lord’s final point, he will be aware that the UK, along with other European partners, led on the sanctions that were imposed. Indeed, the current head of the military and his deputy have sanctions against them. Let me assure the noble Lord that we are looking at all actions. Later this afternoon we are convening, as president of the UN Security Council, an emergency meeting on the situation in Myanmar, and we are also talking to allies quite directly about further steps that can be taken.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, the Burma Campaign UK, in which I declare an interest as a board member, has received many messages from within Burma for concerted and robust international action. The Minister will know that the Magnitsky sanctions do not target the financial interests of the military but are, effectively, a holiday ban for 16 generals during the pandemic. Will the British Government join the new Biden Administration in the US and review our policy on economic sanctions as well as supporting a ban on all, but especially British, companies doing business with companies owned by the military, and work towards a coalition on a global arms embargo?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, let me assure the noble Baroness that we are working closely with our allies, including the United States, in this respect. I have already outlined the first action that we have taken as president of the UN Security Council. On the issue of the international arms embargo in Myanmar, let me also assure the noble Baroness that, at the end of the transition period, the specific restrictions that applied as part of our membership of the EU were rolled forward into domestic law. Of course we will consider any further action that needs to be taken in this respect.

Open Doors 2019 World Watch List

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Wednesday 23rd January 2019

(5 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, the noble Baroness raises a very important point. It is certainly something that I have been looking at very closely since my appointment last summer as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. There are many sources that we currently utilise to determine the level of persecution of different communities around the world. Equally, we have strong partnerships with representatives and leaders of different communities around the world. But her case for having a comprehensive database is a valid one, and certainly we will be looking to see how we can validate data that is provided by communities and organisations such as Open Doors, to ensure that it is verifiable and that we can share it with key partners to ensure that the issues of persecution can be addressed.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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The Minister will know that the Burmese army responsible for the Rohingya genocide is also targeting other ethnic communities, including the 1.6 million Christians in Kachin State, as outlined in the watch list. The International Development Select Committee report stated that,

“there may be a fundamental problem with the peace process that the UK is supporting”.

Will the Minister say how government support for UK-Burma trade takes into account these deeply held concerns about the Burmese military’s involvement in these human rights abuses, which surely amount to crimes against humanity?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, we are all acutely aware of the tragic plight of the Rohingya community, and the noble Baroness rightly points out other persecuted minorities in Burma. I assure her that not just bilaterally but with key partners and most clearly through international co-operation at the United Nations, we have raised this issue consistently. I believe we have seen progress, at least in the framework of MoUs which have now been signed between the Burmese Government, the Bangladeshi Government and organisations including the United Nations. On the specific actions that have been taken, the noble Baroness will be aware that the United Kingdom, working with European partners, has raised the issue of targeted sanctions against leaders of the military, and they have been extended to other members of the Burmese military. We continue to look at this. Ultimately, we hope for the safe, secure and voluntary return of the Rohingya community and other persecuted minorities, but we are a long way from that being a reality.

Myanmar

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 10th May 2018

(6 years, 1 month ago)

Grand Committee
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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for securing this timely debate and for her continuing commitment. I declare an interest as a trustee of the Burma Campaign UK. As has been so graphically described in the speeches before mine, and as I am sure will follow in the speeches to come, the Burmese military is ethnically cleansing the Rohingya from Burma with impunity. It is the fastest refugee displacement since Rwanda.

Because the military has paid no price for its actions against the Rohingya, it is now turning its attention to military action against the ethnic Kachin. It has broken the ceasefire in Kayin state, while continuing its policies of starvation, harassment and intimidation to drive the remaining Rohingya from Burma. The extra aid DfID is providing to the displaced Rohingya is to be welcomed, as is the generosity of the British public and the role of the Bangladesh Government in providing shelter to the refugees.

What is happening in Bangladesh would be a strain on any country, let alone an emerging economy with some of the highest poverty levels in the world, but I hope the Minister will take this opportunity to say what representations he has made to the Bangladesh Government about the proposed relocation of the Rohingya refugees to the island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal. Along with colleagues from all sides of the House, we have written to the Foreign Secretary and the Bangladesh high commissioner, expressing concern that this planned settlement is more like an exceptionally unsafe and inaccessible prison camp.

While concern is being expressed for the refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, we must not forget the ethnic groups in IDP camps in Burma, where access by humanitarian groups is very limited and the media spotlight cannot reach, as described by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. The treatment of the ethnic groups who remain in Burma is not conducive to the,

“voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees”,

according to the UN high commissioner, but I agree with the other calls that have been made for more action on an international stage to stop the Burmese army continuing on its path of ethnic cleansing. Surely that must be a referral to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council. A Minister speaking in a Westminster Hall debate this week said that,

“calling on the Security Council to refer Burma to the ICC will remain an option”.—[Official Report, Commons, 8/5/18; col. 260WH.]

I therefore ask the Minister if he will explain to the Grand Committee what is needed to get the Government to move from referral being “an option” to declaring publicly their support for such an action and beginning the process of building the needed consensus. Everyone is aware of the possible veto from Russia and China, but the UK as penholder should take the first step. There is precedent for Ministers supporting other draft Security Council resolutions that had even less chance of success.

We know that the Burmese military responds to pressure and public exposure on the international stage, hence the ban of the proposed visit of the International Development Committee, so why are the UK Government not supporting a UN-mandated global arms embargo? Economic measures have in the past affected the behaviour of the generals, so I hope the Minister will also explain why the Government rejected calls for targeted sanctions preventing British and European companies doing business with military-owned companies.

It is eight months since the latest crisis with the Rohingya began. In a month’s time, thousands of women, young and old, will start to give birth to children conceived from the sexual violence of the Burmese military. They will give birth under the most dreadful circumstances in the most appalling conditions, with the monsoon and cyclone season upon them. We cannot stand by and let Burma’s military and civilian Government go unpunished for the genocide of ethnic groups in Burma, because the consequences have very grave implications for the whole world.

Burma

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 15th September 2015

(8 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords—

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Anelay of St Johns Portrait Baroness Anelay of St Johns
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My Lords, I have just arrived here from launching the Magna Carta partnerships, which is a new FCO fund to promote the rule of law. I thank my noble friend for raising that point. I am impatient: 100 years would be too long to wait for the rule of law in Burma or elsewhere. We all, as parliamentarians, have a role to play. Our voices can ring out around the world. Let us make sure they do.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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My Lords, everyone shares the Minister’s hope that the elections will be fair, credible and inclusive, but, while the military still has a veto over constitutional change as a guarantee of the 25% of parliamentary seats, is denying Aung San Suu Kyi the opportunity to stand for president, and is banning opposition parties from criticising the military or the constitution during the election campaign, is it not time for the British Government to suspend military training by the British Army until Burma stops the recruitment of child soldiers and the use of rape and sexual violence against ethnic women by the Burmese army?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns Portrait Baroness Anelay of St Johns
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My Lords, there are a lot of important points in that question, but the underlying issue is whether we should cease our training of the military. The training is education to persuade the military that constitutional reform is not only right but necessary, and necessary now. She is right to point out that the constitution as it stands prevents the ability of Aung San Suu Kyi to stand for election because she has foreign-born children. That kind of provision should be amended.