Tigray Conflict

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 24th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Lord for sharing the information he has received, which is among many concerning reports we have seen. Reports of an imminent push on to the city of Mekelle, with time-limited threats, are a very serious concern. We have been consistent in our messaging that civilians must be protected and humanitarian access granted. Given the continued conflict, and as a complement to the efforts of the region to press for mediation, we will continue to press these messages with all relevant international partners, including at the UN Security Council, where the issue is due to be discussed imminently.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, this situation reinforces the critical importance of having an atrocity prevention strategy at the heart of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Can the Minister outline for us any commitments that the UK has through the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund to conflict prevention in Ethiopia and the region? In doing so, can she affirm the critical importance of United Kingdom overseas development assistance in conflict prevention and development, which we know is an absolute prerequisite for peace, and will she perhaps indicate to the Chancellor that he should not be breaking manifesto promises tomorrow?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right that conflict is a key part of our overseas development assistance. We have a conflict, security and stabilisation force programme in Ethiopia, which works to support a peaceful and inclusive political transition. We also have wider programmes in the region which support the peace process and work to stop conflict while promoting human rights, and delivering women, peace and security objectives. I hope noble Lords will forgive me if I do not speculate ahead of a fiscal event.

Gender-based Violence

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Tuesday 10th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am afraid that I have not seen the case the noble Lord refers to, but I will ensure that I look into the detail of it. Of course, it is important that we support freedom of religion and belief in all countries around the world, and we will ensure that we continue to do so.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I refer to my interests as declared in the register. Recently, the mass graves of women who were too old to be taken to be sex slaves for Daesh—so-called Islamic State—in Iraq were dug up as part of the evidence gathering to ensure more prosecutions of former fighters and their allies in Iraq. The Yazidi women and girls deserve justice. Will the UK Government continue to press the Iraqi Government to ensure not just that those former fighters and their allies are prosecuted for their terrorism offences but that the victims of their sexual and gender-based violence have their day in court and they are also prosecuted for the violence they inflicted on these women and girls?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that we must do all we can to ensure that these desperate victims see justice. We are firmly committed to protecting members of the religious minorities in Iraq and providing assistance to them, and also to galvanising international efforts to ensure that Daesh members are brought to justice. That included leadership in ensuring that the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 2379 on Daesh accountability. We have established an investigative team to help collect, preserve and store evidence of Daesh’s crimes, beginning in Iraq, so that we can do everything we can to ensure that these women see justice.

Nagorno-Karabakh

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 30th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the OSCE was created to help to ensure stability and peace across the European continent following the end of the Cold War, yet today we have frozen conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, the annexation of part of Ukraine, the continuing problems in Belarus and now a resurgence of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan. What can be done to reform the OSCE to make it more relevant to the 21st century and ensure that it is much more effective in dealing with these situations?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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As the noble Lord will know well, the conflicts and issues that he has raised are incredibly complex and very different in their nature and history; there is no easy answer to them. The UK fully supports efforts under the OSCE to find peaceful and lasting solutions to these issues and we will continue to work with the organisation to make sure that it becomes ever more effective.

Aid Spending

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 2nd September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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As my noble friend said, it is incredibly important that we think carefully about how we spend our 0.7% budget. Of course, Covid-19 has changed our perception of what we should be doing. I agree with her that we need to invest more in health training and health systems in the developing world to make sure that they are strong enough to cope with this pandemic and any others that might come in the future. I also agree with my noble friend about the importance of sharing the expertise from DfID and the FCO with the new department. There will, of course, be learnings for everybody, and I would very much like to take her up on her offer of help on that, because I know that she has many years of experience in this. I am sure that the new department would benefit from that.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I welcome the Government’s reassurance on the matter of 0.7% and I should mention my entry in the register of interests. However, I do not think that the announcement at the end of July of the cuts in the budget as a result of the contraction in the economy was a good start for transparency in the new department. To announce £2.9 billion of cuts without any detail or criteria was a significant problem, so I would like the Minister to give us some assurance, first, that there will be a detailed announcement about these cuts and, secondly, that the criteria used to make the cuts will be properly announced to Parliament in due course.

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con)
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My Lords, the Foreign Secretary explained in letters to the Select Committees and placed in the Libraries of both Houses the priorities on how these decisions were made. We remain firmly committed to transparency in our aid spending. I hope noble Lords will welcome the announcement that we will continue in the Independent Commission for Aid Impact.

On the prioritisation decisions, at a minimum our DevTracker website is being updated at the end of every month. If, by the end of August, amended programmes and projects have been uploaded on to that, provisional international development statistics will be published in the usual way. Then, of course, the final international development statistics in autumn next year will include country-level data.

We do not know what the current GNI figure is, so this is an iterative process as we go, but we are absolutely determined to ensure that we are using the aid money that we have to deal with the many issues that the world faces.

Africa: Support

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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My Lords, we remain deeply concerned about the food security situation in Africa. In east Africa alone, nearly 25 million people are at crisis levels of food insecurity. We are supporting farmers in Africa in a number of ways through our global agriculture and food security programme and our adaptation for smallholder agriculture programme. On the export of food from the UK to Africa, I will have to take that back to the department and follow it up in writing to the noble Lord.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the G7 is due to meet in the United States in June—or perhaps virtually. What action will the UK take to ensure that that summit addresses the economic fragility of sub-Saharan Africa, the supply chains and the international trade that has been disrupted as a result of the Covid-19 international lockdown, and not just the economic needs of the developed world?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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I assure the noble Lord that we will absolutely take into account the economic and supply chain impacts on the developing world. We have pre-meetings ahead of the G7 where that discussion is already happening, and I am sure it will be on the agenda for the summit.

Covid-19: Overseas Development Assistance

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Wednesday 22nd April 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

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The Question was considered in a Virtual Proceeding via video call.
Baroness Sugg Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Baroness Sugg) (Con)
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My Lords, the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest threat that this country and the world have faced in our lifetimes, and here in the UK and across the globe we are seeing the devastating impact of this virus. The UK is at the forefront of the international response, having so far pledged £744 million in UK aid. This requires a prioritisation of planned spend for this financial year and beyond, both for our immediate response and to support longer-term recovery.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, since 1970, 22 April has been celebrated as Earth Day, when we celebrate and recognise participation and advocacy around the world. It therefore seems appropriate that today we look at the international consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, particularly in the developing world. The sustainable development goals were designed to create more resilient and sustainable economies and societies around the world. Will the Government this year ensure that their commitment to the sustainable development goals, nationally and globally, is strengthened rather than weakened to ensure that we are better able in the future to respond to and cope with shocks of an economic and health nature, as we are currently experiencing both in the developed and developing worlds?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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My Lords, the UK played an instrumental role in establishing the SDGs, and even before Covid-19, we knew that global progress was off track. I am particularly concerned with goal 4, on quality education, and goal 5, on gender equality. The SDGs have a key role in framing and shaping recovery, and the decade of action will be more crucial than ever. We will use the international opportunities we have to build our continued SDG leadership, and we will include in that the SDG summit at UNGA this September and our G7 presidency next year.

International Development: Aid Distribution

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Sugg
Thursday 6th February 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, among the most vulnerable groups, of course, are women and girls trafficked from conflict zones or perhaps affected by extreme weather events who suddenly become very vulnerable at short notice. Many of those women and girls end up trying to cross the Mediterranean, either through the Turkey-Greece route or the Libya-Italy route, to safety in Europe. Following our departure from the European Union at the end of last week, can the Government guarantee that they will continue to work with European partners to ensure safer routes for migration and safer outcomes for those many women and girls from across north-east Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere who end up in that situation?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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My Lords, gender equality is and will continue to be a top development priority. Girls and women across the world are held back by systematic and entrenched inequality and discrimination; the noble Lord raised some specific examples. Despite leaving the European Union, we will of course continue to work with our friends in Europe to ensure that these girls and women are kept safe.