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Lord Kennet: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down perhaps he will allow me to ask a question. I very much enjoyed his passage about the prevalence of summit meetings at the UN. But would he not consider that the important statements made by important statesmen at those meetings can sometimes usefully be used by the rest of us when we feel that our governments are not instantly doing everything they ought to do?
Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, I agree completely with the noble Lord. Conferences are important; meeting people is important in international relations; understanding other people's points of view is important in international relations. Conferences achieve that. But I was trying to emphasise the more detailed coalface activities of the United Nations.
Lord Richard: My Lords, this has been a very interesting debate. I must apologise that I had to leave in the middle of it for some time, but I have had a full report of everything that was said. Inevitably, I agree with some parts, of that report and disagree with other parts. I am told that that the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, said that:
Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Plant, that 50th birthdays are usually a good time for taking stock not only for the United Nations but also for the individual. I am glad to have seen present here today the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I am sorry that he is no longer in the Chamber. I gather that he is one of only two UK citizens who were present when the Charter was signed in San Francisco. One was Lord Gladwyn; the other was Mr. Archie McKenzie, who served with me in New York as the chief economics diplomat. He is still very much alive. Indeed, I saw him recently. I hope that, as the other British survivor of San Francisco, he will not be totally forgotten when the invitation lists for whatever is taking place come to be drawn up.
I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Cledwyn for having initiated the debate. I appreciate the way in which he opened it. In effect, he asked three questions: what has the United Nations done in the past 50 years? What is it doing now? What is it likely to be doing in the future? Those questions sum up the whole object of the debate. Various people have expressed degrees of optimism and degrees of realism. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, expressed a degree of pessimism about the future. In some ways, I suppose that every speaker, from his own perspective, has a degree of truth and accuracy in what he said.
When one considers the future of the UN in a world that is increasingly characterised by ever faster change, it is important to look at the UN as it is and not perhaps as we would wish it to be. We must recognise that a new world order is not necessarily a new world government. Indeed, we must acknowledge that the real nature of the United Nations has not radically altered since the Charter was signed. It might be coming under pressure and in some respects may be becoming distorted, but the original structure is basically intact.
It was conceived, rightly so, in those days as a free association of independent states coming together for specific purposes, which themselves were set out in the Charter. If one looks at the Charter, it is interesting to see that those objectives were fairly limited. Right at the centre was the proposition that the organisation was based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members.
Article 2.7, to which my noble friend Lord Plant referred (and I shall say something about it a little later), sets out in very specific termsit is worth underlining how specific those terms arethe principle of non-interference in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state. It states:
Thus, the two organisational pillars (if I may put it that way) on which the United Nations was founded were that it was an association of independent states and that it should not interfere in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any one of those states. Indeed, it is the relationship between those two fundamental principles set out in the Charter and the way in which Chapter VIIthe enforcement of international peace and security sectionsis being operated now which may cause difficulties in the future. That is well worth looking at on this occasion of its 50th anniversary. It is against that background that one has to assess the effectiveness of the UN during the last half century and try to appreciate the possibilities for the future.
Although the Charter has not changed much since 1945, the size and nature of the membership of the UN has changed. It mirrors the changes that have taken place in the world as a whole. It is highly unlikely, if one were now bringing into being such an international organisation, that a permanent membership of five would include Britain and France and exclude Japan and
All those are matters which would have to be negotiated if one were starting again. Fortunately one is not. So, given the fact that we are dealing with an association of sovereign states coming together within the existing structures and as set out in the existing Charterindeed the realistic possibility is that it is that structure which will continue and it is within that broad framework that we shall have to operatewhat can we now realistically expect from that extraordinary institution of the United Nations? Those of us who have worked in it or with it know that it is a most remarkable institution.
Fundamental to the successful political operation of the UN is the institutional position of the five permanent members of the Security Council. We know that the position of those five depends upon the fact that they were the main victorious allies in the Second World War and each therefore has a veto on Security Council action, although in recent years that veto has not been greatly used. It is very interesting too to note that, while in the early days of the existence of the UN the Soviet Union used its veto a great deal, in the past 20-odd years it is fair to say that the Soviet Union has indeed been increasingly reluctant to make use of that veto.
Recognising that the United Nations is not a democratic structure, and indeed was never intended to be so, the successful operation of the Security Council depends on at least the acquiescence of all five permanent members; otherwise there is inactivity, as there was for many years. In the years I spent at the United Nations it was relatively inactive as far as the Security Council was concerned. We did a lot, met a lot, talked a lot and we tried to do a lot. But we did not actually succeed in doing all that much because of the way in which action tended to be stifled by disagreement between the five permanent members. I can only say that it has improved greatly since I left. I do not necessarily say that that is cause and effect, but the fact of the matter is that the situation has now been transformed. I believe that from the moment Mr. Gorbachev decided that the then Soviet Union would take the United Nations seriously, that the interests of
The position in which the five rarely, if ever, successfully co-operated together has now changed so much that no major issue of security can now be realistically raised without their discussing it first. The only issue I can remember when the five co-operated when I was there was on that of Charter reform. There were various moves by some countries to reform the Charter itself. One will not be surprised to hear that the British and French were against the idea of Charter reform and the Russians were passionately opposed to it.
In those circumstances the five actually met and discussed it. It was an essentially negative and very defensive posture that we all took up on one relatively important issue, but which was not desperately concerned with the maintenance of international peace and security. Now I understand that the five meet on a regular basis. There is a rotating chairmanship; minutes are kept; the position is co-ordinated fully prior to an issue even reaching the stage of unofficial informal consultations at the Security Council.
It means that provided the five continue to act in concert they can virtually guarantee the acquiescence of the Security Council as a whole. That situation has obvious advantages in terms of getting the council to act and not merely talk. It also has disadvantages in terms of the rest of the membership. They perceive it as fundamentally elitist in its nature and over-privileged in the way it works. How much longer the other nations of the world will be prepared to allow the five to maintain their existing privileges is a matter that I do not believe anyone can clearly foresee. Although the number of permanent members may have to be increased, as long as they continue to act with the degree of consensus which they are showing at present the fundamentals of that position will probably remain unchanged.
There is no doubtand it has emerged in the course of this debatethat functionally the United Nations is now infinitely more effective than it ever was before the Cold War ended. The Security Council itself is much more of an executive and less of a deliberative body. That is probably all to the good, although it may be less fun for those people actually taking part in the deliberations. After all, it was designed to be an executive arm of the United Nations although it is only recently that there has been enough political agreement to allow it to operate as such.
That the United Nations operates in a somewhat untidy way is not something at which we should be too surprised. Nowhere in the Charter is there any mention of peacekeeping, yet in 1993 there were no less than 70,000 troops in blue berets stationed around the world engaged in precisely that job. As far as enforcement action is concerned, the Gulf War, whatever else it showed, proved that force can be organised and applied under the aegis of the UN if not under the direction of the Military Staff Committee. I believe that everyone will agree that such action would have been inconceivable a few years ago.
So the position we have now reached is of a United Nations which formally and institutionally has not changed a great deal since 1945, but which is at last beginning to act more in the way that the Charter originally envisaged. I believe that we ought to consider the extent to which that will continue in future.
I believe that the real problem for the United Nations in future is going to be the number and scope of interventions that it will be called upon to take. There is a feeling abroadand it has been echoed by some noble Lords in this debate todaythat if something goes wrong in the world, whatever it is, then the UN ought to do something about it. It is not only that the UN ought to do something about it, but that it ought to be able to do something about it. People may not be clear as to precisely what it is that the United Nations can do, or should do, but that it has a general obligation to try to do something. That is an opinion which seems to be increasingly held.
I listened to the words of wisdom which came from some speakers in this debatenotably those of the noble Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavonexpressing caution. I am prepared to express caution, but I am bound to say that I have considerable sympathy with the point of view which says that something ought to be done if something ought to be done. There is no other institution or organisation in the world that I know of which is capable of providing the degree of co-operation, co-ordination, leadership and, if necessary, force, to do something other than the United Nations itself.
That means that the scope of international intervention has grown. For example, in Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, Namibia, Bosnia and in the Gulf different types of action were required. In Cambodia, Namibia and Mozambique what was needed was the organisation and supervision of a democratic process leading to elections and a fresh government. In Bosnia what has been required is massive humanitarian assistance in a situation which has imposed almost a straitjacket of neutrality. In many ways the Gulf was, at least in principle, one of the simplest actions. It was an example of old-fashioned aggression by one country on another and therefore firmly within the scope of actions originally envisaged by Chapter 7 of the Charter.
So while the machinery has remained pretty much the same the circumstances in which it is being called on to operate have changed radically. The utility of peacekeeping efforts by the UN is, I believe, now generally accepted. The fact that that activity is outside the terms of the Charter has demonstrated that the UN is capable of flexibility and innovation. I have no doubt that this part of the UN's work will continue and indeed intensify.
There will be increasing difficulties over problems arising within countries rather than between states. At least in theory, we do not at the moment have power to intervene in a civil war. We do not have power to intervene where a government is persecuting a minority within its own borders unless it gives rise to a more generalised threat to the peace, which it frequently does not. Yet it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the world now to ignore evidence of genocide on a large scale or of oppression by a state of its own population
What we lack, however, is a corpus of law, or at least of international understanding, as to the circumstances in which Article 2.7 of the Charter should be, if not exactly ignored, at least interpreted more flexibly. I hope that that is a direction in which we shall all be prepared to move.
Perhaps I may say one final word about pre-emptive diplomacy. I am sure that there is greater scope for the use of such things as the good offices of the Secretary General and his staff or, more directly, by the Security Council itself. The UN has perhaps been too much of a reactive organisation in the past. Things have happened. The Security Council has met and then done something or tried to do something. The task of looking at things in the future is not one which has been performed by the United Nations and the Security Council with great skill. In future it may well have to become one in which greater thought is given to preventing situations from happening rather than, as now, trying to deal with problems when they have actually arisen.
I came across a quotation recently by F.E. Cornford. It is somewhat cynical and I give it merely in order to knock it down. I hope that it does not reflect the mood in which this country is now approaching the affairs of the United Nations:
I hope that so far as concerns the UN we can at least agree a series of severely practical measures which will make that extraordinary institution work perhaps more efficiently and better in the future than it has in the past. It is, as I said a little earlier, an extraordinary institution in which to work. For all its faultsit has faults; no one who has worked in it could deny thatthere was a feeling (at least, I felt it and I believe that most people who have been involved in it do) that at last an attempt was being made to try to organise the affairs of this planet on a more rational basis in the future than they have been organised in the past.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I first thank the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, for tabling his Motion on the UN at such an opportune time, and I thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. I too was delighted that Lord Gladwyn could be with us for the debate. He has written me a note regretting that he could not remain until the end, which I pass on to your Lordships. Today we have heard many helpful and thoughtful speeches which will help us in divining the way forward. Perhaps I may join also with other noble Lords in wishing the noble Lord, Lord Ennals, a speedy return to health. We are sad that he is not with us today since he often speaks on these matters.
It is clear from my mailbag and the questions that have been asked in the debate that there is great interest in and support for the United Nations in this its 50th anniversary year. But there are worries too, and they have been voiced clearly. Although many of the letters are critical of various aspects of the organisation, it is gratifying that the overwhelming view is that the UN, whatever its faults, should not be abandoned; it should be developed, as my noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon, said.
As many noble Lords have pointed out, including the noble Lord, Lord Richard, just now, the principles enshrined in the UN Charter remain as good a basis for a peaceful, just and prosperous world today as they did in 1945, and the UN is still the organisation that offers the best hope of progress towards those goals. Another widely held view, which the Government shareas have many of your Lordships in the debateis that there is a pressing need to enhance and develop the capacities of the UN. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, referred to that when he talked about preventive diplomacy. I shall come to the matter in more detail in a moment.
While no thinking politician would deny that the UN has failings, we should put those failings, such as they are, into context. Throughout the Cold War, as a number of noble Lords said, the UN was severely inhibited in carrying out some of its key tasks. The East-West confrontation meant that the Security Council rarely operated by consensus. It was largely unable to play the role envisaged for it in the Charter, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said, when he reminded us of the period before 1979 when there was discussion of Charter reform. Once we got down to discussing it, we found how much we believed the original Charter should remain.
It was the lack of democracy, above all, which hindered the role that the UN could play during those years in protecting human rights. But even then, as is well known, the UN system scored some notable achievements. We should not cast them off without recognition. The WHO waged a successful campaign to eradicate smallpox across the globe. The UNHCR coped with the protection of countless refugees and displaced persons. In those days, while the Security Council was not innovative, crises were contained, if not resolved.
In Cyprus, as my noble friend Lord Vivian said, UNFICYP has kept the peace for 28 years. I shall not be drawn into the wider question of Cyprus's application for European Union membership, but I believe that for a very long time bloodshed has been prevented by the presence of the UNFICYP forces. The UN has produced a number of conventions of fundamental importance to us today; for example, on human rightsa subject mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Plant of Highfield. I shall return to that subject later if I have time.
But what happened with the end of the Cold War and the Gulf War is that we had a time of what I might call great expectations which, sadly, in the years immediately following the Gulf War, have proved to be
The belief has grown up that the UN could and would solve most of the world's problems. It soon became apparent that the new shape of the world in fact presented the organisation with challenges on a scale that it had never before encountered. The figures, as many noble Lords said, speak for themselves. The UN has launched as many peace-keeping operations since 1989 as it did in the whole of the first 40 years of its existence. In 1991, 12,000 blue helmets and blue berets were deployed; in 1993, nearly 100,000. Today, 56,000 remain in the field.
The very fact that in the past four years alone I have visited deployments in seven countries says something about the scale of the ongoing responsibilities. I have visited several of them, such as UNPROFOR in Bosnia, many times. Peace-keeping deployments are invariably only one part of the UN's response to complex crises since they engage many of its agencies, especially to help with refugees and displaced persons; to deliver emergency aid; and to help rebuild shattered economies and societies. Thus the exponential increase in demand for the UN's services has inevitably exposed the organisation's weaknesses. But it has also spurred the UN and its members to take a hard look at what is wrong; where the barriers are; and how we can overcome the problems.
In reviewing its own structures and applying good management and administrative practice where it is relevant, the UN is not a static institution. It knows that it must move with and adapt to the times. It is doing so. We have seen an astonishing burst of life on the peace-keeping side, as has been evident from noble Lords' speeches.
How the UN has managed to cope with the impact of having nearly 100,000 men on the ground at one time in various operations around the world, even as the process of adaptation and restructuring at headquarters was under way, deserves praise rather than criticism. Her Majesty's Government have contributed strongly to the debate on reform with constructive proposals and ideas, not least in the reply to the Agenda for Peace of July 1993. Many of our ideas have been adopted.
The British input has been reflected in decisions of the Security Council; for example, on the criteria for launching new operations and, at the practical level, of a mechanism for consultation on group commitments. We propose to continue a constructive and interactive dialogue, designed to build on best practice rather than merely to criticise the weaknesses and the problems.
In the UN agencies, the reform process is ongoing, and we intend to see that it is maintained as it is extremely important that those agencies are enabled to cope with the new challenges they face. We are working with other major donors to review progress on financial and administrative questions throughout the system. We are trying to find the best way of applying the best practice, or as good practice as we can possibly deliver. It is particularly important that member governments of the UN themselves follow through their own policies in a coherent manner from UN agency to agency. Some
Finance and management are major issues at the United Nations. The establishment of the Office of Internal Oversight Services is a major step forward. There is a new dynamism from the recently appointed Under-Secretary General for Administration and Management. We hope that the Secretary General will once again give the lead in rationalising jobs and bureaucracy at headquarters, which has not changed a great deal over the years. Although it appears to have increased and become more difficult to cope with, it probably is no different from the time when the noble Lord, Lord Richard, was our ambassador there.
As regards finance, assessed contributions to the UN and peace-keeping budgets are legal obligations and the key principle must be that member states should pay their contributions not only in full but also on time. We recognise the perception in Congress, referred to tonight, that the United States is bearing an unfair burden. But relative to its economic weight that is hardly the case. Major friends and allies of the United States also contribute in support of Security Council resolutions as well as pay their assessed contributions in full and on time.
However, that US perception is regularly causing a huge cashflow problem for the United Nations. That is why the United Kingdom has been active in making constructive proposals to review the UN's scale of assessments on a transparent and balanced basis. We hope that the membership will build on those ideas, looking forward to the next General Assembly. Your Lordships' comments are most helpful in that regard because the problem must be tackled. Otherwise, there will not be the ability to respond to and back financially our response to real crises when they come up unexpectedly.
Many questions were asked tonight and I shall write to noble Lords if I do not have a chance to refer to them. Perhaps I may comment on the Security Council enlargement, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth. Of course we recognise the need for expansion to make the council more representative. But it must also be effective and therefore that expansion should be limited. At this stage, the most important goal is not to let the enlargement discussions, which are currently underway in New York in a General Assembly working group, become bogged down. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last September that the United Nations 50th anniversary should be a milestone in the debate and that that problem should not be a millstone round our necks. The wrangling, which might go on for several years, would be progressively debilitating for the council.
I viewed with surprise the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, that there might be a merging of the United Kingdom and French seats. I do not know whether the noble Lord has tested that thought in Paris but I can imagine that it would not gain much favour there. For that reason, my noble
Perhaps I may turn to peace-keeping, in which we are playing a leading role in supporting United Nations efforts. We have led the way in pressing for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to be strengthened so it can more efficiently plan, launch and manage peace-keeping operations. We have backed that up with constructive ideas and the provision of expert personnel on secondment to the UN secretariat. The UN remains the pre-eminent international authority for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has unique world-wide legitimacy but it depends crucially on the determination of member states to make it function properly and on their willingness to make available the necessary resources, in particular their troop commitments.
We and other Europeans fully pay our contributions to peace-keeping but Britain is contributing more troops to UN operations than any other nation except France. British blue berets are performing outstandingly in Bosnia. They are on the green line in Cyprus and were in Rwanda carrying out a phenomenal task, probably far more than their remit would have envisaged, and doing it willingly to save lives and to bring peace.
Our objective must be to ensure that the UN, working with regional organisations, is able to respond quickly to the need for peacekeepers where they are able to underpin a political process. We are helping the UN to improve its logistic support for operations and to develop a common UN doctrine for peace-keeping. Provided that the parties respect the Lusaka Protocol, we have agreed to provide a British logistic battalion for three months in order to get the UN operation in Angola off to a good start. British logistics expertise is highly prized in such operations. As honorary colonel of the Royal Logistic Corps, I am proud that that is so.
My noble friend Lord Finsberg and the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, referred to standing forces. Our view is that it is much better to enhance the UN's rapid reaction capability by making the standby force planning initiative work more effectively. We have responded to the Secretary General, setting out the forces which we would be prepared in principle to make available on a case-by-case basis and are following that up with the UN secretariat. Through our initiative on peace-keeping in Africa, which my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary launched at the General
The standing force, mentioned by many noble Lords, is not a new idea but it is not practicable. It is extremely difficult in terms of command and control and we are much better in developing a capability, particularly in Africa with African forces. Many of them have been trained by British forces and they can work together. We are looking monthly at the whole development of the African peace-keeping initiative with the OAU, the UN and the African countries which are willing to contribute.
My noble friend Lord Vivian talked about the peacekeeping college. It is generally accepted that training should remain a national responsibility, even if we, with other nations, help with the training. Therefore, the idea of having specific training in one place for all nations does not gain great favour. We will continue to make available places at the Royal College of Defence Studies and the staff colleges and we shall continue to help many nations with training at their request.
I am grateful to my noble friend for what he said about the way in which we should try to bring together the capability of the military forces and humanitarian organisations. We are learning a lot in practical terms in our deployments not only in Bosnia and Rwanda but also in other places around the world.
I noted very carefully the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd, about prevention being cheaper than cure. He knows that I agree with him. Of course, one way in which we hope that we can help prevention is by reducing the quantity of arms circulating throughout the world. That is why the Prime Minister advocated back in 1991, at the European Council, the UN register of conventional arms. We strongly support it because it brings greater transparency into the arms trade. It will help to identify excessive accumulations of weapons at an early stage, so adding to the preventive knowledge that we have and on which we can act. So far, the register has had a successful start. About 90 states have submitted returns which cover the vast majority of arms transfers. Copies of our own returns are in the Library. We shall continue to encourage wider participation and we shall certainly do our best to make sure that that aspect of prevention works as well as possible.
My noble friend Lord Finsberg asked a specific question about tactical nuclear weapons. There is no evidence that those weapons are leaving the former Soviet Union. Of course, under the non-proliferation treaty, Russia is obliged not to transfer nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon states. There is no evidence that that obligation has been breached.
My noble friends Lord Campbell of Croy and Lord Finsberg spoke about terrorism. I am sure that your Lordships know of the statement made by Security Council members at the summit in 1992 that the council was concerned to address problems of international
Other issues have been raised this evening, one of which is global governance. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, for the work of the commission on global governance. The recently published report Our Global Neighbourhood contains a number of thought-provoking ideas. It identifies the key dilemmas facing the international community. I fear that we shall have to do a lot more work to come up with all the solutions to those dilemmas. Nevertheless, it is very good on analysis.
One way in which to make the ideas work is to continue with the progress of reform of the economic and social council of the UN. Making the economic and social council work better is very much part of our ongoing concern. We are pursuing reforms there. That spreads out into the various agenciesfor example, UNDP and UNICEF, where progress is already being seen. But there are other areas where there is resistance to change. The economic and social council will have to push and push quite hard to achieve that change.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, spoke about his idea of the commission. There are already three commission reports on the UN. I am not sure whether a further commission would be helpful. We have certainly had misgivings about the proposals to establish a new working group to look at UN reform in the round because we are making better progress by taking the various agencies and scrutinising their processes and trying to make sure they do not overlap. Therefore, it may be that that idea will not gain a lot of credence. We are seeking to cut out duplication of work and there are groups already doing well looking at Security Council enlargement and financial reform.
On finance, perhaps I may briefly repeat that the deepening cash flow crisis must be tackled. Any influence which your Lordships may have with US members of Congress to talk about the reality of that will be most welcome. We are doing what we can now that the Administration in Washington have made clear their opposition to proposals to limit further funding. We have pointed out that as a whole the European Union is already paying more towards United Nations peace-keeping than the United States. Therefore, the only sustainable way forward will be through a negotiated deal, of which I spoke earlier.
There are many development institutions in the United Nations. We support them all in various ways. But the UNHCR has borne an enormous load in recent years. We have been very glad to support Mrs. Ogata to the hilt. I shall meet her again on Friday and I hope to agree with her what we can do further to help UNHCR in its work.
I have one piece of good news for your Lordships this evening. Despite the enormous pressure on resources, we have managed to maintain our core contribution of £8.5 million to UNICEF in 1995-96. Of course, that will be added to by supplementary funding. Whether it will reach the £23 million which we have managed to pay so far in 1994-95, I cannot say. This financial year has not yet finished and some emergency appeals are still
There are concerns about management efficiency and accountability but the management review of UNICEF indicates that it is going in the right direction. We should give as much help as we possibly can to that organisation.
I turn now to the very difficult subject of UNESCO. My noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon raised that subject, as did many other noble Lords. The fact that we are able to maintain the UNICEF core contribution at only the same level as last year is an indication of the financial pressure we face. Therefore, I must say to what I know will be a disappointed House that I cannot announce this evening a return to UNESCO but we are keeping the question under close review. We must take into account existing financial pressures and the other priority demands for resources as well as the progress which my noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon rightly indicated has been made on reform.
Many other questions were raised in the debate. I do not wish to detain your Lordships but I wish to say a few words about the new world order about which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, asked me. We are extremely conscious that questions of security are bound up inextricably with questions of human rights, development and justice. Failure in any of those fields leads to deterioration in security, and instability. All our interests lie in a stable world and, as the noble Lord, Lord Plant of Highfield, said, we must work in the field of human rights and weigh up the costs and benefits of them because they are, as he put it, linked to security and the maintenance of that security.
We wish to make this 50th anniversary of the UN a real celebration. We shall shortly announce the details of that. We are most grateful to my noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon for the work he is doing with the United Nations Association to make sure that we celebrate well the stage that we have reached.
The United Nations can only ever be as effective as member states are prepared to make it. I note the comment made by the noble Earl, Lord Winchilsea and Nottingham, about one of my colleagues in the other place. I shall take up that matter. I have covered many, but not all, of the areas in which we have been active in enhancing the capabilities of the UN but it is financially more than in any other respect that there is an urgent need for all members to pay their full dues to the organisation and on time. Some UN problems are far from resolution but they are now being addressed. Britain will continue to play a leading role in the process of making the organisation more capable of fulfilling the great tasks given to it at its foundation. It is as much in our interests as it is in the interests of the rest of the world that that goal is achieved.
We have a vision. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, hinted, that vision corresponds exactly with the remarks made by my noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon in his forthright speech. We should not give up and we should not despair. We should not denounce the UN. It is easy to knock any organisation. There will
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