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"Greater Albania" Proposal

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We do not endorse a "Greater Albania". We support a political process for Kosovo which builds on the Rambouillet Accords and fully respects existing international borders.

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Sir John Freeland

Lord Bethell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what date Sir John Freeland was most recently appointed as a judge to the European Court of Human Rights; on what date he relinquished that appointment; and whether his duties concerned exclusively the case Matthews v. United Kingdom.[HL1928]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Sir John Freeland was first elected as the member of the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the United Kingdom on 23 April 1991. He was re-elected on 4 February 1992 and served in that capacity until all the judges of that court relinquished office upon the entry into force of Protocol 11 to the European Convention on Human Rights on 1 November 1998.

On that date, the newly elected Court of Human Rights took office, on which the judge elected in respect of the United Kingdom is Sir Nicolas Bratza. However, since Sir Nicolas had previously taken part, as a member of the Commission of Human Rights, in the case of Matthews v. United Kingdom, he withdrew from the Court for this case. Sir John Freeland was on 9 October 1998 nominated as judge ad hoc.

Al Shifa Pharmaceutical Factory

Lord Steel of Aikwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence they had (a) at the time and (b) now to suggest that the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was bombed by United States forces in Sudan with their support, was associated with terrorism.[HL1929]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is established practice under Section 1(c) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information not to disclose or discuss information received in confidence from foreign Governments.

Iraqi Nationals: Bank Assets in UK

Lord Steel of Aikwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consider unfreezing bank assets of individual medical doctors who used to work in this country to ease their plight in Iraq.[HL1930]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Our long established policy has been to allow Iraqi nationals access to their frozen funds to meet expenditure of a humanitarian nature, such as living and medical expenses, whilst they are in the UK. However, it would be contrary to the UN resolutions to make these funds available to Iraqi nationals in Iraq.

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NATO Military Action: Cessation Conditions

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they would advocate a pause in air attacks by NATO if this pause were to be accompanied by the cessation of attacks on civilians by the Yugoslav Government forces.[HL1913]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: NATO has clearly set out its conditions for a cessation of military action. President Milosevic must:


    ensure a verifiable stop to all military action and the immediate ending of violence and repression;


    ensure the withdrawal from Kosovo of the military, police and paramilitary forces;


    agree to the stationing in Kosovo of an international military presence;


    agree to the unconditional and safe return of all refugees and displaced persons and unhindered access to them by humanitarian aid organisations;


    provide credible assurance of his willingness to work on the basis of the Rambouillet Accords in the establishment of a political framework agreement for Kosovo in conformity with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

NATO will suspend its action when Milosevic meets these conditions.

Nuclear Disarmament

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to make progress towards the elimination of nuclear weapons at the 1999 session of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament.[HL1938]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The highest priority for the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 1999 is that negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty should begin in earnest. This is the internationally agreed next step towards nuclear disarmament.

We are working for the re-establishment at the CD of the Ad Hoc Committee set up in 1998 for this purpose.

Antarctica: Clean-up Programme

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are in breach of the treaty protecting the Antarctic environment in the light of the existence of dilapidated whaling stations on South Georgia and Deception Island and the disused drums and gas canisters at Holluschickie Bay, James Ross Island, and what steps they intend to take to remove these items.[HL1962]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The obligation to clean up abandoned work sites in the Antarctic Treaty

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area, is held under Annex III of the Environmental Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty. No timetable for clean-up is set, however. The UK, through the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), had already removed significant quantities of waste from such sites even before the Protocol entered into force. BAS's current waste management practices fully conform with the requirements of the Protocol.

South Georgia lies outside the Antarctic Treaty area. It is not therefore bound by Antarctic Treaty regulations. Nevertheless the whaling stations on the Island are Crown Property. A major clean-up was undertaken in 1991-92. Due to concerns over further deterioration of the stations, a survey has been carried out this austral summer, with a view to further clean-up. The findings of that survey are awaited and will be incorporated into the Environmental Management Plan for the island which the Government of South Georgia will publish in the autumn.

Clean-up of the Whaling Station area on Deception Island is complicated by the fact that several Treaty Parties are involved and that the site has been designated as an Historic Site and Monument under the Antarctic Treaty. Nevertheless the UK has already mounted two major clean-up campaigns in Whalers' Bay on Deception and, in view of ongoing wind damage to the buildings, consideration will be given to further clean-up. A survey of the site was undertaken in January this year.

The materials at Holluschickie Bay on James Ross Island are not believed to be British.

UN Human Rights Conventions: Reports

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will consult Parliament as to the contents of their reports before carrying out their reporting obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[HL2011]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The responsibility for writing the United Kingdom's periodic reports under the six UN core human rights instruments lies with the United Kingdom Government. The reports serve as the basis for a continuing dialogue between the Government and the respective Treaty Monitoring Bodies. The views of Parliament are of course taken into account in the preparation of the reports.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will report to Parliament on the contents of their reports, together with their response

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    to any recommendations made by the international treaty bodies after carrying out their reporting obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[HL2012]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The United Kingdom's periodic reports to the six UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies are available in the Libraries of the House. They are produced in the UK and published as UN documents. These are available on the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' website (www.unhchr.ch). The United Kingdom's response to recommendations made by the Treaty Monitoring Bodies are usually made in the context of the next periodic reports.

International Criminal Court Statute: Ratification

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.[HL2032]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We intend to be among the first 60 states to ratify the Court's Statute. We shall introduce the necessary legislation as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.


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