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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There have been two UN reports produced in response to the March 2004 violence in Kosovo. The UN Secretary General gave his quarterly report on the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK) on 30 July 2004 available at http://ods-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N04/446/69/IMG/N0444669.pdf?OpenElement. The UN Secretary General also commissioned the Norwegian Ambassador to NATO, Kai Eide, to produce a report on the situation in Kosovo. This report is not yet in the public domain, although its key recommendations are well known. These include the acceleration of the transfer of competencies to Kosovo institutions in conjunction with elaborating a programme of Kosovo-wide decentralisation, which we support.
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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Preparations for the EU military mission to Bosnia, underpinned by close and regular contacts between the EU and NATO, are proceeding well. The EU's General Affairs and External Relations Council approved the Concept of Operations for the mission on 13 September. Work is now being taken forward on the Operation Plan; and a Force Generation Conference took place on 15 September, which all troop contributing nationsincluding non-EU countrieswere invited to attend. The EU mission will take over in December. It will be a robust military force with some 7,000 troops and will operate under a chapter VII mandate.
What sources of security advice they used when deciding to locate British consular services in Kirkuk rather than Erbil; what was the substance of that advice, and what other consultations they had regarding the location of consular services in Northern Iraq. [HL4157]
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The decision to locate the office of the British Embassy of Northern Iraq in Kirkuk was taken, among other considerations, on the basis of security advice provided by Foreign and Commonwealth Office security advisers and the British Office, Baghdad. A major factor was the opportunity to house the office within the US mission in Kirkuk. The decision involved discussions with our officials in Iraq, the Iraqi authorities and the US.
Whether they will set out the steps they are taking in connection with Israel's plan for disengagement from Gaza, given the need for the plan to be fully consistent with a durable solution to wider Israel-Palestine issues. [HL4169]
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK, bilaterally and in co-operation with international partners, continues to engage with Israel to ensure withdrawals from Gaza and the West Bank take place as soon as possible and are as complete as possible.
We are continuing to work with the Palestinian Authority in areas where it needs to deliver a visible improvement in the security situation, and we are also
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encouraging the parties to work together and with the World Bank to ensure the economic viability of Gaza post-withdrawal. We have also made it clear that it is essential these withdrawals be a first step rather than an end in themselves. The UK believes the road map remains the best means to achieve a comprehensive and lasting settlement to the conflict.
The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): In the view of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, houseboat dwellers are already protected by this legislation. However, we cannot give categorical assurances that this is the case, because only the courts can interpret legislation.
Whether they will provide a breakdown of the costs incurred for each ministerial visit connected with regional referendum campaigns in (a) the north-west; (b) Yorkshire and the Humber; and (c) the north-east. [HL4120]
Lord Rooker: The information requested in respect of a breakdown of the costs incurred for each ministerial visit connected with regional referendum campaigns in the north-west, Yorkshire and, the Humber and the north-east is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate costs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): It is not departmental policy to place transcripts of criminal cases in the Library of the House. A transcript of the trial of Barbara Salisbury can be obtained via Chester Crown Court.
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What is the value to governments and individuals of the system for individual petitions under the United Nations human rights treaties given that such petitions do not result in binding judicial decisions. [HL4084]
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: In its recent Interdepartmental Review of International Human Rights Instruments, the Government concluded that the practical value to individual citizens of individual petition to the United Nations is unclear. They also have concerns about the levels of cost to public funds that governments might incur if individual petition were used extensively to explore the meaning of the provisions of a treaty. Therefore they have decided to accede only to one right of individual petition, under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, to enable them to consider the merits of individual petition on a more empirical basis.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The Government published their evaluation of the merits of the right of petition under United Nations human rights treaties as Appendix 5 of their Report on the Interdepartmental Review of International Human Rights Instruments, which was laid in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament on 22 July 2004.
Whether their review of international human rights instruments included an evaluation of the case law of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in considering complaints under the First Optional Protocol to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and of the experience of states which have accepted the First Optional Protocol; and, if so, what were the results of that evaluation (a) as regards the case law; and (b) as regards the experience of States Parties. [HL4089]
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: Yes. The review did include an evaluation of the case law of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and of the experience of states which have accepted the First Optional Protocol. The results are set out at Appendix 5 of the report on the review, which was laid in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament on 22 July 2004. Ministers concluded that the practical value to
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individual citizens of individual petition to the United Nations was unclear. They also had concerns about the levels of cost to public funds that governments might incur if individual petition were used extensively to explore the meaning of the provisions of a treaty. Therefore, they have decided to accede only to one right of individual petition, under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, to enable consideration of the merits of individual petition on a more empirical basis.
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