Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report




    (a)  We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government state whether or not the British intelligence agencies on which the security of the United Kingdom depends have the human, financial and other resources they require to offer the best possible protection against terrorist attacks on the United Kingdom or on British posts and facilities overseas (paragraph 26).

    (b)  We conclude that the Government was right to publish the coalition "Campaign Objectives" and the document outlining "Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities." These publications went some way towards reassuring Parliament, the British public and Britain's coalition partners of why military action against Afghanistan was necessary (paragraph 40).

    (c)  We conclude that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were right to invest substantial time and effort overseas in helping the United States to mobilise the international coalition against terrorism (paragraph 46).

    (d)  We conclude that NATO was entirely right to invoke Article V, and commend the Secretary General on his initiative in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks (paragraph 49).

    (e)  We commend the Government's efforts to include other countries' military contributions in the war against terrorism, and recommend that it continue to press for similar coalitions where appropriate in any future military operations (paragraph 53).

    (f)  We recommend that the FCO clarify how it sees the role of NATO in the conduct of US-led military operations against terrorists or the states that sponsor them. We further recommend that the FCO clarify NATO's role in providing and co-ordinating intelligence in the war against terrorism (paragraph 55).

    (g)  We recommend that in its response to this Report the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provide a full statement on EU-wide co-operation and progress in countering terrorism (paragraph 60).

    (h)  We congratulate Sir Jeremy Greenstock on his appointment as Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. We conclude that the Government was right to push for a prominent UN role in the war against terrorism, and commend its work towards this end in the immediate aftermath of the 11 September attacks (Paragraph 69).

    (i)  We commend the efforts of British diplomats to persuade the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden after 11 September. We conclude that this was the right course of action, which helped to hold together the international coalition during the subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan (paragraph 75).

    (j)  We conclude that the British and American governments were vindicated in their judgments that the Taliban could be removed speedily, and with loss of life that appears to have been far lower than was predicted early in the military campaign (paragraph 81).

    (k)  We recommend that the Government investigate the circumstances which led to the dangerous misunderstanding with Britain's allies at Bagram. We trust that measures will be taken to ensure that British personnel will not be endangered unnecessarily through such misunderstandings in future operations (paragraph 84).

    (l)  We also recommend that the Government investigate the extent to which the confusion and blurred lines of communication arose from the fact that Mr Bergne was appointed by the Prime Minister rather than by the FCO. Lessons need to be learned about relations between the Foreign Office and the Prime Minister's personal appointees in such circumstances (paragraph 85).

    (m)  We commend the Government for the speed with which it deployed a sizeable contingent of UK personnel to CENTCOM, and conclude that this deployment made an important contribution to close co-operation with the United States in the campaign in Afghanistan (paragraph 91).

    (n)  We commend the Government for realising, early in the Afghanistan campaign, the necessity to look beyond its military aspects. We conclude that the Government's planning in this area contributed to the rapid and successful establishment of an interim authority after the fall of the Taliban (paragraph 95).

    (o)  We recommend that the Government consider carefully, with the United States and other coalition partners, the options for maintaining and increasing security in Afghanistan, both during and for a significant period after the June 2002 Loya Jirga. This should include consideration of the extension of ISAF beyond Kabul and its immediate area (paragraph 117).

    (p)  We commend the British Government for being amongst the first to have both signed and ratified all 12 Conventions related to terrorism and recommend that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes full use of its posts overseas to try to ensure that other UN member states do likewise (paragraph 126).

    (q)  We recommend that, given the additional demands being placed on the UN Secretariat by the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Government do all it can to ensure that the CTC has adequate resources to fulfil its functions (paragraph 130).

    (r)  We recommend that the Government continue to do its utmost to ensure that adequate provision is made for the safety and security of prisoners in military operations in which British forces are engaged (paragraph 136).

    (s)  We conclude in relation to the detention of Taliban and al Qaeda suspects, as we do in relation to other matters, that the Government must strive to uphold standards of international law, and, to the greatest extent possible, to ensure that prisoners are tried in full accordance with internationally accepted norms of justice (paragraph 144).

    (t)  We recommend that the Government consider whether the Geneva Conventions remain wholly appropriate in the modern conduct of warfare. If they do not, there may be a need to work towards a new international consensus to amend the Conventions, to ensure that the protection that they provide to civilians and combatants is maintained (paragraph 145).

    (u)  We recommend that the Government seek to allay the concerns of the US Administration about the International Criminal Court, with a view to persuading it to reconsider its renunciation of the ICC Treaty (paragraph 151).

    (v)  We conclude that a linkage between the conflict in the Middle East and the war against terrorism is widely perceived among populations and governments in the region. Both the US and British governments appear to accept that the conflict is a factor which severely complicates their conduct of the war, although it does not weaken their resolve. While the conflict in the Middle East requires swift and fair resolution on its own merits, this perceived linkage lends added urgency to the search for peace (paragraph 161).

    (w)  We recommend that the Government consider carefully how to help allies in the Islamic world to address the social, economic and political conditions that have led to the growth of Islamic extremism among their populations (paragraph 167).

    (x)  We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government state clearly what is its policy on first use of nuclear weapons, with particular reference to dealing with the threat posed by chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (paragraph 171).

    (y)  We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government set out its policy on the development of new tactical nuclear weapons (paragraph 173).

    (z)  We conclude that the Government was right to highlight in grave but measured terms the threat of weapons of mass destruction attack by terrorists, including the threat to the United Kingdom (paragraph 176).

    (aa)  We recommend that the Government continue to urge the international community to do its utmost to prevent nuclear, biological and chemical weapons materials getting into the hands of terrorists (paragraph 181).

    (bb)  We recommend that the Government do its utmost to ensure that the new director of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is able to act independently, and for the benefit of all member states of the Organisation (paragraph 185).

    (cc)  We commend the Government for publishing its Green Paper on strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and recommend that it continue its efforts to persuade the United States to agree an effective verification regime (paragraph 189).

    (dd)  We recommend that the FCO set out clearly and fully in its response to this Report its specific responsibilities for preventing weapons of mass destruction attacks against the United Kingdom, its citizens and its interests overseas (paragraph 190).

    (ee)  Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) and the Secret Intelligence Service are agencies for which the FCO is responsible. We recommend that the FCO, through these agencies, ensure that the highest priority is given to identification and prevention of attack on the United Kingdom or on British interests overseas by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction (paragraph 191).

    (ff)  We conclude that the Government is right to maintain its constructive and—whenever necessary—critical engagement with Iran (paragraph 201).

    (gg)  We recommend that in its response to this Report the Government clarify whether its policy is to bring about 'regime change' in Iraq (paragraph 209).

    (hh)  We recommend that the Government propose a deadline for Iraqi compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions requiring Iraq to allow inspection of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes (paragraph 212).

    (ii)  The Committee recommends that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in its response to this report sets out the British Government's view as to the circumstances in which a pre-emptive military strike would be legally justified (paragraph 224).

    (jj)  We recommend that the Government work with the United States to ensure that any action taken against Iraq, or against any other state in the war against terrorism, conforms with international law (paragraph 227).

    (kk)  We recommend that the Government follow the precedent which it set in the period leading up to military action in Afghanistan, and publish the fullest possible documentation on the need for any further military action, before such action is seriously contemplated. While nothing should be published which might compromise sources or methods of intelligence, the Government must try to secure the widest possible support in Parliament and among the British people if it is proposing to risk the lives of British servicemen and women as part of a further phase of the war against terrorism (paragraph 233).

    (ll)  We commend Ministers for what they have already done to build and maintain the international coalition against terrorism. We recommend that the Government continue to give a high priority to maintaining the coalition; to achieving the full commitment of its members; and in particular to persuading the United States of the value of continuing to operate through it (paragraph 237).

    (mm)  The war against terrorism is an unplanned and unsought conflict. But when the first hijacked airliner struck the World Trade Center, war became necessary and, once entered upon, war must be pursued vigorously and with all appropriate means (paragraph ?).

    (nn)  We believe that the international coalition leadership, especially that of the United States and the United Kingdom, has performed remarkably well. Resolve and determination have been tempered with restraint and sensitivity. The political leaderships of both countries deserve support and understanding (paragraph 239).

    (oo)  The military campaign is likely to be long and may spread beyond Afghanistan. Coalition forces directly engaged in or supporting the campaign are performing a difficult and dangerous task with the skill and dedication which has come to be expected of them, but which is greatly appreciated and admired (paragraph 240).

    (pp)  We concede that the great advantage of hindsight is that it allows us 20/20 vision of the precursors of war which were previously unseen, misinterpreted, or ignored. If one lesson comes out of our consideration of why the attacks of 11 September 2001 were able to succeed, it is that priority must be given to the gathering, assessment and use of high-grade intelligence information. Without that information, this country and its allies are appallingly vulnerable (paragraph 241).

    (qq)  But to 'know thine enemy' is not enough. We also need to determine how the conditions that have contributed to the development of terrorism can be removed, or at least reduced. The answers to those questions will provide a far safer world than even the best intelligence and preparedness can provide. As the war against terrorism proceeds, this country and its coalition allies must seek out those answers, and must learn about and deal sensitively with the causes of terrorism (paragraph 242).

    The Foreign Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:

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    Prepared 20 June 2002