Debates between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon during the 2019 Parliament

UN General Assembly September 2023

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the outcomes of the High-Level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly held in September 2023.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, high-level week was a critical collective moment to tackle the growing interconnected challenges that we face by listening to the concerns of our partners, particularly in the developing world. We saw important progress made to accelerate delivery of the sustainable development goals. Importantly, the world also heard President Zelensky make the case for a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine, and the UK Government, alongside partners, led in broadening the vital international conversation on artificial intelligence.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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I thank the noble Lord the Minister for his Answer and I look forward to the publication of the White Paper, which I understand is planned for November, on the sustainable development goals. Can I ask more widely? This is perhaps directly related to the non-attendance of our own Prime Minister but also a number of other national leaders around the world—indicating, I think, a feeling of impotence at the moment on the ability of the United Nations to influence the conflicts that we see, and the persecution and violence against individuals in so many countries. Given the failure of the international community to protect civilians in Syria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Ukraine and most recently, of course, Israel and Gaza over recent years, does the UK now recognise that there is a need for fundamental reform of an institution that is still built around the outcome of the Second World War and is not fit for the challenges and conflicts of the 21st century? Will the Government set out at some point their intentions to take a lead in that debate?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the question of attendance, there was high-level attendance from the United Kingdom, led by the Deputy Prime Minister. As the noble Lord may well be aware, it is not the first time that has happened and it is not uncommon. The Deputy Prime Minister led the delegations in 2010 and 2013, and the Foreign Secretary did so between 2001 and 2004 and in 2006 and 2007.

The important element was the discussions and some of the outcomes. The noble Lord is right that conflicts persist around the world. I argue that we are seeing a record number of conflicts around the world, certainly in my time as a Minister. There is a need for early intervention and prevention but also engagement and conflict mediation. The structures are there but they need reform, and the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of that, including supporting Secretary-General Guterres’s common agenda for the future. It is important that we get the sustainable development goals back on track, because they are important to deliver. When you see progress being made there, it needs not just the focus of one country or two countries but a collective unity to ensure that we meet the challenges we currently face.

Ukraine: Post-conflict Reconstruction

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 7th September 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I take on board what my noble friend has said. I assure him that we are working to ensure that the infrastructure within Ukraine is developed in a more resilient fashion. We are providing technical support. We are working on energy infrastructure. My noble friend makes an important point about cultural heritage. We are working with bodies such as UNESCO to ensure that, first and foremost, we protect those heritage sites and that, where they have been destroyed, they are rebuilt.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Prime Minister confirmed in February that more than £2 billion of assets that previously belonged to Roman Abramovich of Chelsea Football Club were ready to be transferred to a humanitarian foundation to be spent on those impacted by the war in Ukraine. That money has not yet been transferred; the foundation has not yet been established; the humanitarian work has not yet begun. Will the Government move a bit more quickly to ensure that this happens as soon as possible?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I can confirm that that was the point my right honourable friend made. The current situation remains that those assets are frozen and cannot be moved unless a licence is issued by the OFSI department within the Treasury. I can assure the noble Lord that we are working in an expedited way with our colleagues in the Treasury to ensure that those funds can be utilised appropriately.

Nutrition for Growth Summit

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 13th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness raises an important point. I assure her that the issue of KPIs, in terms of our development spend, is consistent across many areas of budget. I used the example of Bangladesh earlier. We have seen infant mortality fall there from the direct support we have provided on various programmes, particularly among those under the age of five. That shows the real benefit of our investment in such parts of the world.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the cruel and short-sighted cuts to official development assistance already implemented will have a significant impact on nutrition and other life-saving programmes. That budget is now further threatened by the suggestion that the Chancellor might include IMF special drawing rights against the ODA budget rather than as additional aid. Can the Government give a cast-iron guarantee that there will not be further cuts to official development assistance programmes as a result of this proposal from the Chancellor and that the rest of the Government will stand up to him and this time say no?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord may have noticed, we have a new Foreign Secretary. One of the areas that I know my right honourable friend has prioritised is to look again at the issue of the aid budget. The noble Lord makes an important point about SDRs and I can assure him that we are engaging in very robust discussions with the Treasury.

UN Peacebuilding Fund: Financial Support

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 10th June 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I draw attention to my entry in the Lords register.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, the United Kingdom has been one of the first and biggest supporters of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, the PBF, and its work, being among the top five donors. We recently announced our contribution of £10 million to the PBF for this financial year. The cross-government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund will receive £874 million for 2021-22, to focus on the link between stability, resilience and security and to work with Governments and civil society on key peace initiatives.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government’s recent integrated review of foreign and security policy quite rightly stated that it was a major strategic objective

“to reduce the frequency and intensity of conflict and instability”.

It is therefore astonishing that the Government have reduced the contribution to the UN Peacebuilding Fund from more than £20 million in 2018 and 2019 to £10 million this year, and reduced the contribution to the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund by one-third to the sum that the Minister has just declared.

Do the Government not realise that, in peacebuilding and conflict prevention, trust, learning lessons and long-term consistency are absolutely fundamental, and that when projects such as those in Myanmar, which have been cut by the Government by 100%, are decimated at short notice, that breaks trust and causes instability? Will the Government look again at this and consider the creation of a transition fund that would at least allow these conflict prevention and peacebuilding projects to transition to new funders and allow some continuity so that peace can be maintained?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the peacebuilding fund, we have retained our contribution at the same level as in the previous financial year. The noble Lord is well aware of the challenges we have faced on funding. I have been dealing directly with our support for multilateral agencies, particularly with the United Nations, and have engaged directly at the most senior level—indeed, I am looking forward to my meeting with the Secretary-General tomorrow, when he is in London for the G7.

I reiterate that the United Kingdom stands very much at the forefront of peacebuilding initiatives. Of course, it is not just about funding but also about the contributions we make in terms of peacebuilders, peace mediators and peacekeepers, as well as our support for training initiatives, through both FCDO funding and the MoD.

Health Partnership Schemes: Funding

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 7th June 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the Minister responsible for south Asia, I assure the noble Earl that I have prioritised support to Nepal, particularly on its requirements and prioritisations. We are working very closely with the Nepalese Government in identifying needs. Because of the situation on the ground, it is important to identify the safety of health workers who may be deployed, but we have teams on the ground who are providing first-hand information.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the G7 summit taking place in Cornwall this weekend must be the first summit of global leaders in history where the host country is reducing its international commitments at the same time as every other country attending is increasing its international commitments. This is bringing shame and ridicule on our country. It is not too late for the Prime Minister to change tack and say that additional resources for climate, education, global health and the global economic recovery could be delivered with a return to 0.7% of GNI spent on international development. Will the Government change tack this week at the last minute and make this summit a success?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I believe that the summit will be a success, because a lot of work has been put into the planning for that. On the specific commitment, the noble Lord will be aware that I cannot make the kind of commitment that he is seeking. However, I will say to him, through my own engagement both in-country and with multilateral organisations, that the United Kingdom, through the over £10 billion we will be spending this year, is still regarded as among the premier countries when it comes to development support.

Commonwealth Heads of Government

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 27th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the commitments on education are welcome, even if they have been undermined by the Government’s spending cuts on global education. The last year has shown how important it is to make advances in digital education provision. The Government of Rwanda have prioritised digitisation in public services for their time as chair-in-office. Will the UK Government and the Government of Rwanda work together to ensure that across the Commonwealth we can see an escalation of advance in digitising education provision, so that, should there be a future pandemic, so many millions will not lose out quite so much?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very practical suggestion and I can assure him that we are talking with the Government of Rwanda, with Foreign Minister Biruta and with the Secretary-General—we had a meeting only yesterday. While there has been a postponement on CHOGM, we will continue to work very much in association with the Government of Rwanda. The noble Lord makes a very practical suggestion, which has application not just in the context of what Rwanda may do but in delivering girls’ education and prioritising education in the UK’s overall ODA programme.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 17th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, we are doing just as the noble Baroness suggested. We are engaging directly with different regions of the Commonwealth on the important priorities in the lead-up to COP 26.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister is absolutely correct that the Prime Minister regularly expresses a firm commitment to girls’ education; he did so again last week. Given that that is the case, why on earth are the Government cutting the budget by hundreds of millions of pounds?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, we have committed £400 million to girls’ education this year, and we will continue to bring added focus during the Global Education Summit later this year.

Overseas Development Assistance: Budget

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the right reverend Prelate raises an important point about the impact of funding over the course of the whole year. I can assure him that we have not been working in a vacuum on this; we have been working directly and liaising with organisations and institutions which are impacted, and with countries directly. Over the last couple of days, I have had various conversations with key partners, including those within multilateral organisations.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I note my register of interests. It is an absolute disgrace that, four weeks into the financial year, the Government are still hiding the figures for the organisations and projects that are normally supported through our official development assistance. That will impact on education in particular. I have heard the Prime Minister speak eloquently and passionately about his commitment to girls’ education, and he wrote it into the Conservative manifesto in December 2019. And yet its budget will be cut by 25%—embarrassing our allies in Kenya, with whom we are holding a joint education summit in July 2021. Will the Government commit at that summit to £600 million, as originally planned, for the Global Partnership for Education, to make sure that those girls and boys around the world who need an education after this pandemic can actually get one?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Lord articulates, the importance of girls’ education is key for this Government and our Prime Minister. However, the challenging situation means that we have had to look at all elements of our ODA spend. I assure him that we will invest at least £400 million in girls’ education, which will have a really progressive impact in over 25 countries.

Overseas Development Assistance: Budgets and Awards

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 22nd April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I draw attention to my entry in the register of interests and beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait The Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
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My Lords, UK official development assistance—ODA—in 2019 and 2020 was: £15.2 billion, of which £11.8 billion was spent by the FCDO; and £14.5 billion, with £10.7 billion spent by the FCDO respectively. The full detailed breakdown of ODA spend for 2019 was published on 24 September in the Statistics on International Development. The final 2020 spend will be published in the same final UK aid spend statistics in the autumn of this year and will contain detailed breakdowns of the UK’s ODA spend for 2020, including an activity-level dataset.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government have today published their planned expenditure for 2021-22. This Conservative Government won the 2019 election and their manifesto said:

“We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.


Today they are breaking that promise and breaking the law of the land. As a result, fewer girls will go to school, fewer vaccinations will cost lives and the UK will cut its support for conflict prevention by more than half. This cruel and callous plan shames our country. Will the Government do the right thing and put it to a vote?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I first put on record that I note the sentiments of the noble Lord and the excellent work that he does in this area. However, I am sure that he, equally, will recognise that the UK economy is today 11.3% smaller than it was last year and undergoing its worst contraction for 300 years. The deficit this year is projected to be double its peak during the financial crisis. This does require difficult decisions, they have been taken and the Government have committed to restore the 0.7% as soon as the fiscal situation allows.

NATO: Russia and Ukraine

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Thursday 15th April 2021

(3 years, 2 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I recognise the role my noble friend played in this respect in his previous role as Minister for the Armed Forces. UK military support for Ukraine, as he will be aware, covers training delivered through Operation ORBITAL. This has been extended, resulting in training as well as maritime training initiatives. I note what my noble friend says. We are working very closely with not just Ukraine but our NATO allies to ensure that an appropriate response is given at the appropriate time.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, in addition to combating Russian aggression, support for improved governance and strong institutions in Ukraine—helping it build a proper democracy—is vital. Is the UK currently financially supporting any projects run by the UN, the OSCE or others in Ukraine? If so, will they be affected by the cut to overseas development assistance that the Government have announced?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, we are working very closely with Ukraine, and not just in providing training support for its defence requirements. The noble Lord is right that we have been working; indeed, I remember that in my first role as Communities Minister—going back a bit to 2013—one of my international engagements was with Ukraine, about building local government structures. That continues to be the case; we work very closely with President Zelensky and his team.

Clergy: EU Visas and Residence Permits

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 13th April 2021

(3 years, 2 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 right reverend Prelate that, as he may well be aware, we are working very closely with the Church of England—for example, on citizens’ rights—as it is one of the implementing partners of the UK nationals support fund. In addition, through our embassies, we are providing direct and relevant support as well as an extensive communications programme for all citizens across the European Union.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, in questioning the Minister for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, I hope that it is appropriate to say that my noble friend Lady Kinnock of Holyhead was an inspirational internationalist all her working life. Her lifetime of public service has helped changed lives throughout the world and we wish her well in her retirement. On the issue of visas for clergy, the Church of Scotland also has deep concerns about the position of locum ministers serving congregations throughout the European Union following Brexit. It also has concerns about split ministries, where the minister involved may be part-time in two different, perhaps neighbouring, countries, in two different churches. Will the Government guarantee to involve the Church of Scotland in any discussions about resolving these issues, including, of course, other Churches and faiths?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I can of course assure the noble Lord that we will work with all organisations, including the Church of Scotland. If there are specific issues that he wishes to raise with me, I will be happy to answer them directly.

Covid-19: Surplus Vaccine Doses

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 22nd 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, the details of how and when the vaccines will be shared are still being confirmed, but there are further discussions to be had on the point my noble friend raises with COVAX and vaccine manufacturers. She will be aware that we are contributing £548 million for global equitable access through the COVAX AMC. That remains the primary area of UK support.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, given the Government’s plan to reduce overseas development assistance by £4 billion—two-sevenths of the budget—there is a real worry that the Government might allow access to the vaccine without actually making any contribution to help developing countries provide it. For example, Malawi is already suffering from an education crisis and an economic crisis as a result of the lockdowns and the virus. Surely we should be helping such countries to deliver that vaccine if it becomes available and making sure that they can afford it, not just aiming for it and hoping for it but actually delivering it.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that that is exactly the objective of the COVAX AMC commitment, and it is why the UK Government have led on it. Not only have we led on it but the noble Lord will have seen the Prime Minister’s statement which led to other countries also committing to it. This is aimed at the 92 most vulnerable countries and will help to vaccinate more than 1.3 billion people.

Overseas Territories: Humanitarian and Disaster Relief

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 9th 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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I assure my noble friend that my noble friend Lord Goldsmith does not carry responsibilities only in Defra; he is also a Minister at the FCDO, and his views are well represented in our discussions on the point that my noble friend raises.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, when the United Nations sustainable development goals were agreed in 2015, resilience from the shocks of extreme weather events was a key element of the purpose behind agreeing them in such a comprehensive fashion. In their discussions with the overseas territories and others, will the Government ensure that setting a framework within the sustainable development goals is part of the long-term strategy for improving resilience to extreme weather events, rather than just reacting to them?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very valid and practical point. That is exactly the focus for ensuring long-term resilience, as he suggests.

Burma: Military Coup

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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, I shall not comment on all the questions raised by the noble Lord. I agree with him, but I also believe that it is important we have a UN Security Council debate on this.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, on an additional, very serious point, I visited Myanmar just before the previous set of elections, and there was deep worry on the ground that, should there be uncertainty and instability after the election at that time, the people who would suffer most would be those who need, for example, international supplies of HIV medication and that sort of humanitarian support. So, will the Government, in their discussions at the UN Security Council, look not just at the democratic and constitutional issues at stake here but ensure that the UN agencies that provide humanitarian support inside Myanmar are able to continue to do so during this crisis?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, first, in terms of direct financial aid to the Myanmar Government, as the noble Lord will know, we do not provide any such support. We do provide, as he is aware and rightly articulates, targeted support, working through international organisations and multilateral bodies. As I said earlier, in light of the coup the Foreign Secretary has today announced a review of all indirect support involving the Myanmar Government. However, we retain the importance, as I said earlier, of humanitarian aid getting through and will continue to work on that basis.

United States: Global Priorities and Climate Change

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 16th December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness is right that the Biden Administration have already committed to rejoining the Paris Agreement—Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris has announced as much following a recent event. The noble Baroness will be aware of the climate ambition summit, which also saw participation from the US, and we remain committed to working closely with the US. Announcements from the US about commitments to finance will be very much a matter for the Biden Administration.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I was delighted to see that the electoral college has confirmed President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Harris in their positions and that my namesake in the Senate has accepted the election result and finally agreed to endorse them. Vice-President Biden, as he then was, was the keynote speaker at a festival in Central Park in New York that I attended in September 2015 to celebrate the universal agreement in the United Nations that the sustainable development goals be achieved by 2030. When the Biden Administration come to the UK and look for action on the SDGs, will the UK Government, despite their wish to break their promise to the British electorate on overseas aid, keep their promise to the poor of the world and leave no one behind by delivering the SDGs by 2030?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I say to the noble Lord that the name McConnell carries as much weight in your Lordships’ House as it does in the US Senate. On the substantive issue of the SDGs, we remain committed to fulfilling and meeting our goals, and we continue to work with the US and other partners internationally in pursuit of that ambition.

Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Monday 12th October 2020

(3 years, 8 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 Baroness’s second point, I have recently discussed with the team in New York how to look at this issue, in particular during our presidency of the Security Council. Let me assure her that since she first raised this issue and continues to do so, it has remained very much on my agenda. Interpreters play an essential and vital role. They are regarded as civilians and the UK recognises their invaluable contribution, as the recent support for Afghani translators has demonstrated.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, it is impossible to meet children who have been involved in conflict or extreme violence without seeing the deep trauma in their eyes and actions. The Secretary-General’s special representative on children and conflict has given a high priority in discussions to psychological support for traumatised children from around the world who have experienced that violence. Are the UK Government involved in discussions with her to make progress on that agenda?

Rwanda

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 23rd June 2020

(4 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I have already alluded to the fact that Ministers adopted a package of reforms, which come into effect once endorsed by the Heads of Government; that will take place at the rescheduled CHOGM.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on the launch last Friday of the Murad code to help victims of sexual violence in conflict, which is named after Nadia Murad, the inspirational Yazidi survivor. Given the history of Rwanda regarding sexual violence in conflict, will the Government ensure that the Murad code is on the agenda for the Kigali CHOGM next year? Can he also update your Lordships’ House on progress towards prosecuting the ISIS individuals who were responsible for the capture and slavery of so many Yazidi women and girls?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, in the interest of time, I will write to the noble Lord on his second question, but progress is being made there. On the agenda, I thank the noble Lord for his kind remarks on PSVI. As we did previously in London, I am hoping that we will be able to convene a side meeting of leading nations during the Heads of Government meeting when it is rescheduled in Kigali.

Covid-19: Refugee Camps

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 20th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I fully align with the sentiments of the noble Baroness and of course I will look at all future funding requests.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, thousands of asylum seekers, potential refugees, are now unaccounted for in Libya, following hundreds being returned to the shore and many detention camps being closed as a result of Covid-19. Will the UK actively support safe, direct humanitarian evacuation corridors out of Libya in order to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable at this most difficult time?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, the noble Lord highlights an important issue around Libya and the conflict that continues to engulf the country. We are of course working with international partners to see what we can do in-country to reach a political settlement, as well as to provide support for the vulnerable, including refugees, in the country.

Rohingya Muslims

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Wednesday 29th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My noble friend surprised me somewhat; normally I expect her to be on my right, and she appeared on my left today—I am not alluding to any political affiliations. She raises very valuable points on the more general situation in the different provinces of Myanmar, where we have seen systematic persecution. We have used the phrase ethnic cleansing. We have not used the word genocide, because that is a determination, as my noble friend will know from her insight and experience as a lawyer, for the courts to make. However, she raises valuable points and I assure her that in our discussions we are looking at the whole situation of every state within Myanmar.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, incidents of sexual violence were a particular feature of this attempted genocide, which I am sure were horrific for all who have watched events closely. Will the Government reschedule the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict summit that was cancelled due to the general election and ensure that the Murad code on evidence of sexual violence in conflict is revisited this year to make sure that we can be in a better position in future to collect evidence of these sorts of events and ensure prosecutions?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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First, if I may correct the noble Lord, the summit was not cancelled but postponed. As someone who had spent a year and half planning it, perhaps no one was more disappointed than me, but we had a general election and I believe that that was the right call. The new dates are currently being looked at and it is in process. I have put forward specific dates for consideration by both the Foreign Secretary and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, which I hope to be able to announce shortly. On the Murad code, absolutely—we are working with Nadia Murad to ensure that the learnings from the Murad code will be a specific deliverable at the conference.

Middle East: Security Update

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Tuesday 7th January 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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I agree with the noble Lord and I am sure that other noble Lords will join with me in wishing the Sultan a speedy recovery. Oman has played a key role in the wider region, as we have seen during the Yemen conflict, and we hope that it will continue to do so. It has also been a constructive partner in bringing together different sides after differences arose between Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within the GCC.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, clearly, the events of the last few days will strike terror into the hearts of those hundreds of thousands of Iraqis still displaced as a result of the events in Iraq and Syria over the past 10 to 15 years—many of them in northern Iraq, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, has already said. As a responsible member of the Security Council, will the UK Government play a role in ensuring that the operations of the United Nations, UNICEF and the other agencies looking after refugee camps—and the progress made there over the last 12 months—can continue somehow under the surface, and that those displaced and still living in refugee camps, in many cases after seven or eight years, will have some relative safety within this overall escalation of tension?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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I pay tribute to the work the noble Lord has undertaken; I know he has visited Iraq and had a very constructive visit on the ground. I assure him that, yes, we are working through all organisations. As the Minister for the United Nations, I assure him that we are very keen to ensure that the gains made through various UN efforts—not just the humanitarian support we have provided but, in particular, as I referred to earlier, the UNITAD mission, which is bringing justice; this point was point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Alton—are sustained. Indeed, one of the first questions I raised was about the mission’s continuity. Through the Iraqi Government—my right honourable friend the Prime Minister stressed this point to the Prime Minister of Iraq during his conversation with him yesterday—we are certainly seeking to ensure that the gains we have made on the ground, both through our bilateral relationship and, importantly, through the various UN missions, are not just sustained but strengthened at this time.