Sign Up

Subscribe to Liam's email newsletter for regular updates

Category Archives: Work and Pensions

My question to the Prime Minister on civilian deaths in Gaza – 21 July 2014

 

Dear friends,

 

Today in the chamber I pressed the Prime Minister on what he and the Government are doing to stop the deaths of civilians in Gaza. You can see my question and his response below:

 

Mr Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab): Everyone in this House condemns the rocket attacks, but the Israeli defence force is firing the most dangerous of weapons in the most dense of communities, and it is very clear that Secretary Kerry and Ban Ki-moon think that not enough is being done to minimise civilian casualties. Does the Prime Minister accept that analysis? What we really want to know in this House is what he will do today, tomorrow and through the week in the Security Council to stop the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza and beyond.

 

The Prime Minister: I could not have been clearer that I think there needs to be restraint and the avoidance of civilian casualties, and the Israelis need to find a way to bring this to an end. I have made all those points repeatedly.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140721/debtext/140721-0002.htm#140721-0002.htm_spnew12

 

To this I add my further call, that at the UN Security Council, Britain leads a process of peace and de-escalation, just as we did when David Miliband was Foreign Secretary, particularly to recommit to the importance of UN Security Council resolution 1860 which demands not only a cease-fire but restoration of borders, and crucially the lifting of the embargos around Gaza.  

 

You can see further details on my position, including my letter to the Foreign Secretary, here.

 

Liam

 

My letter to constituents and to William Hague on the situation in Gaza 14 July 2014

 

Dear friends,

 

Please find below a letter to all those constituents who have contacted me about the terrible scenes unfolding in Gaza

Below this you can see the letter I have written today to the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Letter to constituents on Gaza 14 July 2014

Letter to constituents on Gaza 14 July 2014

Letter to William Hague on Gaza 14 July 2014

Letter to William Hague on Gaza 14 July 2014

34 organizations call for a ceasefire and sustained solution towards peace – 11 July 2014

 

11 July 2014

34 organizations call for a ceasefire and sustained solution towards peace

Military actions by all parties must stop. Since 2009, history has shown that military operations have failed to bring peace and security for people in Gaza and in Israel. Over the years we have repeatedly called for ceasefires and for all sides to protect civilians from harm.

Sadly, these ceasefires have not lasted and we have had to revert back to life-saving relief and emergency programs, aiding innocent people to cope with the trauma, and rebuilding Gaza time and time again.

With civilians in Gaza killed by Israeli airstrikes and homes, schools, and water facilities damaged and destroyed and as rockets continue to be fired from Gaza towards Israel, we now call again for a ceasefire.

But, we cannot accept a simple return to the status quo. Structural changes must be made so that people caught in the hostilities are protected from violence and that their rights and needs are respected and fulfilled.

 

Such changes must result in assurances of security for both sides, Palestinian sovereignty, and respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.

 

We the undersigned humanitarian, development, faith, and rights based organizations call on the International Community to immediately start this process by redoubling efforts to work effectively with the parties to agree to durable solutions that contribute to a just peace for all in the region, ending the blockade in Gaza, and systematically addressing and ensuring accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

 

1. Action Against Hunger (ACF)
2. ActionAid
3. American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
4. CARE
5. Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
6. CESVI
7. DanChurchAid (DCA)
8. Diakonia
9. Global Communities
10. Gruppo di Volontariato Civile (GVC)
11. Help Age International
12. Heinrich-Böll-Foundation
13. HEKS
14. International Learning Centers (ILC) 15. Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC)
16. Medical Aid For Palestinians – MAP UK
17. medico international
18. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
19. Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)
20. Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)
21. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
22. Oxfam
23. Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH)
24. Premiere Urgence Aide Medicale Internationale (PU-AMI)
25. Save the Children 26. Solidaridad Internacional- Alianza por la Solidaridad ( SI- APS)
27. Terres des Hommes Italy (TdH Italia)
28. Terres des Hommes Lausanne
29. The Carter Center
30. The Lutheran World Federation
31. The Swedish Organization for Individual Relief (SOIR)
32. Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS)
33. War Child
34. World Vision Jerusalem – West Bank- Gaza

 

The organizations signing this statement are all members of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA),
a coordinating body of more than 70 INGOs working in Palestine

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1860 – 8 January 2009

 

Security Council

6063rd Meeting (Night)

 

SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE, DURABLE, FULLY RESPECTED CEASEFIRE

 

IN GAZA LEADING TO FULL WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI FORCES

 

Resolution 1860 (2009) Adopted by 14 in Favour, Abstention by United States;

Also Calls for Unimpeded Humanitarian Assistance, Welcomes Egyptian Initiative

 

Gravely concerned by the deepening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the resulting heavy civilian casualties “since the refusal to extend the period of calm” between Israel and Hamas, the Security Council this evening stressed the urgency of and called for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”.

 

Adopting resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour with the United States abstaining, the Council also expressed its grave concern at the escalation of violence and emphasized that Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in the densely packed territory that has been the theatre of a deadly 13-day conflict between Israel Defence Forces and armed Hamas militants.

 

The measure, which recalls that “a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means”, capped days of intense ministerial-level negotiations at United Nations Headquarters after Arab leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas flew to New York for urgent meetings with United Nations Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon and Security Council diplomats to craft a binding resolution to end the fighting, which began on 27 December, when Israel launched a major offensive in Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks.

 

Immediately following the vote, Secretary‑General Ban said, after two weeks of escalating violence and suffering in Gaza and southern Israel, he was heartened and relieved at the adoption of a resolution to end the tragic situation.  The Council’s action signalled the will of the international community and must be fully respected by the parties.  He stressed, however, that more would be needed, and a political way forward was required to deliver long-term security and peace.  “My visit to the region next week will focus on helping to ensure that the ceasefire is implemented, that urgent humanitarian assistance reaches those in need and encouraging the diplomatic efforts currently under way,” he added.

 

The resolution sets out urgent tasks for the international community and calls on United Nations Member States to intensify their efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition, and to ensure the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

 

Calling for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance within Gaza, including food, fuel and medical treatment, the resolution recognizes the role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in providing such assistance, and emphasizes the need to ensure “sustained and regular flow of goods and people through Gaza crossings”.

 

The resolution welcomes the regional and international efforts under way to end the crisis, including the Egyptian initiative crafted by President Hosni Mubarak and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, which, among other things, calls for a temporary ceasefire followed by talks on how to control the border crossings, as well as how to achieve reconciliation among Palestinian factions.

 

Explaining the United States decision to abstain, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that, while her Government had agreed with the goals and objectives of the resolution:  “The United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts in order to see what this resolution might have been supporting.”  Still, she said, the United States believed that, by adopting the resolution, the Council had provided a road map for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza.

 

Riyad Al-Maliki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, said that adoption of the resolution had been delayed several days, despite the deepening humanitarian crisis and heavy loss of lives of Palestinian civilians.  Some 700 Palestinians had been killed and close to 3,000 had been wounded.  Nevertheless, Israel must now end its war against the Palestinian people and withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.  It must also lift the closure of borders and ensure humanitarian access to the people in need.  “The violence must cease so that […] we can rebuild what the brutal Israeli war machine had destroyed in Gaza,” he declared.

 

Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told the Council that Israel had withdrawn from Gaza in 2005 hoping it would never have to return.  However, after eight years of continuous rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization, Hamas’ refusal to extend the period of calm, and its smuggling of weapons during that period, Israel had been left with no choice but to act in self-defence.  “Responsibility for the current hostilities lies squarely with Hamas,” she said, adding that the international community must focus its attention on the cessation of Hamas’ terrorist activities, including the total cessation of rocket fire and smuggling, in order to be durable and to allow the possibility of lasting peace.

 

David Miliband, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, whose country sponsored the text, told the Council that statistics did not do justice to the situation in Gaza, “but the word ‘crisis’, which is sometimes overused, is wholly appropriate”.  His Government had been calling for an immediate ceasefire from the very beginning of the conflict and tonight, at last, the United Nations was speaking clearly with one voice.  The job now was to turn the words of the resolution into a reality, he said.

 

Also speaking tonight were the Foreign Ministers of Libya, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation also addressed the Council, as did the representatives of Costa Rica, Japan, Mexico, China, Uganda, Viet Nam, Burkina Faso, Austria and Croatia.

 

The meeting began at 9:15 p.m. and ended at 10:15 p.m.

 

Background

 

The Security Council met this evening to take action on a draft resolution (document S/2009/23) sponsored by the United Kingdom, which reads as follows:

 

The Security Council,

 

Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

 

Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

 

Emphasising the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians,

 

Expressing grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm; and emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected,

 

Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,

 

Emphasising the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings,

 

Recognising the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,

 

Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means,

 

Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

 

“1.   Stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;

 

“2.   Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment;

 

“3.   Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

 

“4.   Calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

 

“5.   Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism;

 

“6.   Calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re‑opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way;

 

“7.   Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the 26 November 2008 resolution, and consistent with Security Council resolution 1850 (2008) and other relevant resolutions;

 

“8.   Calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognised borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

 

“9.   Welcomes the Quartet’s consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

 

“10.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

 

Statements before Vote

 

BERNARD KOUCHNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, speaking in his national capacity, said the Council was meeting in the common cause of achieving a ceasefire.  In Gaza, there was an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.  He said he was moved and distressed by the plight of the victims and families on both sides.  The immediate end to hostilities was something the European Union and President Nicolas Sarkozy had been committed to.

 

He said the draft called for the end to the firing of rockets, the end to the Israeli operations, the opening of the border crossings and an end to arms smuggling.  Those parameters were something the President of France had brought up with the leaders of the region and President Hosni Mubarak had drawn up a proposal.  That plan was the only way to peace.  He expressed regret that it had not been possible to give a little more time to reconcile different views or to endorse the results of negotiations now under way.  The message of hope needed to be heeded without delay and negotiation under way needed to achieve prompt results.

 

Action

 

The Council then adopted resolution 1860 (2009) by a vote of 14 in favour with 1 abstention (United States).

 

Statements after Vote

 

United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that for the past two weeks, people all over the world had witnessed the escalating violence and the suffering in Gaza and southern Israel.  He was heartened and relieved at the adoption of a resolution to end the tragic situation.  That decision signalled the will of the international community and must be fully respected by the parties.  It called for a ceasefire and for humanitarian access.  There was also a need for quickly rebuilding what had been destroyed.  An immediate and durable ceasefire was only the first step.  More would be needed, and a political way forward was required to deliver long‑term security and peace.  His visit to the region next week would focus on helping to ensure implementation of the ceasefire and that humanitarian aid reached those in need.

 

DAVID MILIBAND, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said the Council had been brought together by the gravity of the situation existing in Gaza.  The word “crisis” was wholly appropriate.  The Council was also brought together by the vision of security and dignity for Palestinians and Israelis both.  There was a clear consensus on an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire and on the humanitarian need of the people in Gaza through aid and opening of the border crossings, as well as on security for Israel through an end to arms smuggling and on the need for a political process going forward.  Tonight, the United Nations had served its purpose by speaking clearly and with authority.  There were more responsibilities, for the States in the region, as well as the international community as a whole.  The current responsibility was to chart a course back to resolution 1850 (2008).  That could now be done with the just adopted resolution.  The job now was to turn the words of the resolution into a reality.

 

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, said that the situation in Gaza was very serious and the overall goal must be ensuring stabilization and normalization on the ground.  The resolution just adopted showed that the Council and the United Nations were indeed seized of the matter.  It was also a step towards the collective goals reflecting the desire of all for sustainable peace in the region.  While much remained to be done, much work was under way, she said, stressing that the initiative proposed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was not just to be applauded, but must be supported.  Such work would lead to a durable ceasefire and sustainable peace.

 

Many tasks remained to be addressed, including rooting out the causes of the hostilities, tackling the smuggling and provision of weapons, securing crossing points in line with the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, and providing security for the Israeli people and a better life for the people of Gaza.  “We must establish an international consensus that Gaza must never again be used as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli citizens, because it is important to remember how this crisis began”, she said, stressing that the violence in the Strip had been instigated by Hamas, “a terrorist group that called for the destruction of Israel”.

 

Continuing, she said that, some 18 months ago, Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip in a coup and, since then, thousands of guns, rockets and mortars had been smuggled into the territory.  Hamas had refused to extend the “period of calm” and its continued armament was a root cause of the current situation and had gravely endangered the residents of both Gaza and southern Israel.  “Hamas’s commitment to violence is not only an attack on Israel, but also on the two-State solution,” she said.

 

The United States required the principled resolution of the situation in Gaza, and the Security Council resolution just adopted was a basis on which that could be done.  At the same time, she stressed that it was not just a matter of resolving the situation on the ground.  There would need to be a principled resolution also of the political challenges in Gaza that re-established the Palestinian Authority’s control, including over borders; facilitated the normal operation of Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings; and, in time, the opening of other crossings.  She said that the United States supported President Mahmoud Abbas as he carried out his responsibilities towards the establishment of a State of Palestine.

 

She went on to say that the United States remained deeply concerned about the innocent Palestinians suffering in Gaza, and would maintain and continue the humanitarian efforts it was taking to support United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and non-governmental organizations working on the ground.  She said the United States recognized the right of Israel, like other States, to exercise its right of self-defence, and it had stressed to Israel that it was obligated to take feasible steps to minimize the impact of any actions on civilians.  She reminded the Council that Hamas continued to hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who must be released.

 

Finally, she said that the United States thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation efforts in order to “see what this resolution might have been supporting”, and that was why her delegation had abstained in the vote.  Still, after a great deal of consideration, the United States had decided that the resolution, the text, goals and objectives of which it supported, should be allowed to go forward.  “I believe in doing so, the Council has provided a road map for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza,” she said.

 

ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation of Libya, said on behalf of the hundreds that had been killed and the thousands that had been wounded, the objective had been to put an end to Israeli aggression, lift the siege on Gaza and provide humanitarian assistance to the suffering people there.  To that end, Libya had previously submitted its own draft resolution to address the crisis.  After several meetings, the United Kingdom, the United States and France had submitted a draft which, after several more rounds of negotiations, the Arab Group believed satisfied a minimum of its demands.

 

While the Group had voted in favour of that text, especially because it called for an immediate end to hostilities, he stressed that not all of the Group’s proposals and demands had been met, including the desire for a mechanism to ensure a quick resolution to the crisis.  He said that the international community must continue to put pressure on Israel to end the violence and open borders to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached the population that was in dire need.  At the same time, he said that the international community must ensure that Israel’s crimes in the region did not continue.

 

ALI BABACAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that, after three days of negotiations, the Council had been able to reach a decision on a resolution.  While some delegations might not be satisfied with the outcome, the resolution was nevertheless a compromise decision that expressed the will of the Council, especially in that it called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.  The call for unimpeded humanitarian access was also an important element of the text.  Now, the Council must move forward with implementation.  Indeed, full and effective implementation was crucial to ending the crisis.  Turkey also believed that, as soon as possible, all Palestinian parties must move forward with national reconciliation efforts.  Turkey would work with those parties to ensure progress going forward.

 

ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the resolution favoured an immediate ceasefire by all parties, as well as finding a long‑term and comprehensive solution to the problems of Gaza.  It was a balanced and, hopefully, effective resolution.  The situation in Gaza could not be solved by the use of force.  The fact that all members of the Council had spoken in favour of a long and durable ceasefire did not mean that the work was finished.  It was important to make even more efforts to overcome the crisis in Gaza.  The developments in the last hours had underlined the need for a solution.

 

JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said the just adopted resolution had a tremendous moral force.  The resolution called on the parties to bring about an immediate cessation of hostilities and attested to the resolve of the international community.  He underscored the legal, binding nature of the resolution.  It was mandatory that it be complied with by all parties in the conflict.  Failure to comply could and should entail serious consequences.  He hoped the Council could be consistent with its decision taken today, and would use its authority to ensure respect for the decision.

 

YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said it was important that the Council had been able to take a decision on the grave and serious situation in Gaza, after several rounds of consultations over the past few days.  The resolution, above all, stressed the urgency of action and called for an immediate ceasefire.  At the same time, earlier in the day, the international community had been shocked to hear about the killing of a staff member of UNRWA.  Japan expressed condolences to the family of the victim and stressed that the incident revealed the urgency of ensuring an immediate ceasefire.  Indeed, calm, normalcy and safe living conditions in and around Gaza must return and must be the ultimate goal of the international community’s efforts.  He added that the text must also ensure that the peace process got back on track in line with resolution 1850 (2008).

 

CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said that in the face of the tragic events that had been occurring in Gaza since late December, causing death and destruction and deepening the humanitarian crisis there, the Council had the duty to end the violence and relieve human suffering.  Finally tonight, the Council had shouldered its responsibility by calling for an immediate and durable ceasefire and the opening of crossings to provide humanitarian relief.  Mexico had insisted on the broadest consensus during the negotiations and the balanced text just adopted met its requirements.  What was needed now was to build a foundation for the future.

 

He stressed, however, that Mexico would have preferred that the text incorporate an explicit reference to respect for the provisions of international humanitarian law, as well as a more direct reference for establishing an international mechanism to monitor the implementation of all the measures to be adopted at the conclusion of diplomatic efforts currently under way.  The Council and the wider international community must support those negotiations and ensure that the broader Middle East peace process continued apace.

 

ZHANG YESUI ( China) said, since the outbreak of the conflict, China had consistently supported swift Council action aimed at a ceasefire and opening the border crossings.  While the resolution was not totally satisfactory, taking into account the gravity of the situation on the ground, China had voted in favour.  The resolution reflected the will of the international community.  He urged the parties to achieve an immediate ceasefire and to implement the resolution.  He hoped the international community would help bring the parties together to a comprehensive and durable solution to the Palestinian question.

 

FRANCIS BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) had voted in favour to end the hostilities and the humanitarian tragedy.  The resolution was balanced, providing for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian access and protection of civilians.  Today’s outcome reflected a consensus, which indicated that the Council was aware of its responsibility to maintain international peace and security.  The Council should remain engaged in finding peace in the Middle East, with Israel and Palestine living in peace with each other.  He urged the parties to implement the resolution.

 

LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), said his delegation would liked to have seen a resolution with more clear cut language on the implementation of an immediate ceasefire and early withdrawal of Israeli troops, which he considered a prerequisite for ending the crisis and providing relief to the suffering Palestinian people.  However, in light of the continuing violence and deepening humanitarian crisis, Viet Nam had supported the current text, which it believed could, nevertheless, provide a basis for bringing an end to the current crisis and paving the way for the continuation of the peace process.

 

MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) welcomed the adoption of the resolution and said that the Council could not be indifferent to the tragedy under way in Gaza, especially in light of the serious and deteriorating humanitarian situation.  Burkina Faso believed that the Council should have acted earlier, but “as they say, better late than never”.  He said that the language of the text could have been clearer, but it nevertheless was an expression of the Council’s will and was, after all, the result of compromise.  He applauded the efforts of the negotiating parties, particularly the Arab Group, which had made compromises to ensure the text was adopted.  He hoped that adoption of the resolution would not only end the current conflict, but build a foundation for continued negotiations towards a sustainable peace in the region.

 

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) said it had been important to achieve the immediate need for a ceasefire and to preserve the unity of the Council.  He was, therefore, grateful for the efforts that had made the consensus possible.  There must be an unconditional halt to rocket attacks on southern Israel and an end to military operations in Gaza.  Another priority was a lasting and sustained opening of the border crossings, so that the humanitarian situation of Gaza could be addressed.  One point had not been explicitly mentioned in the resolution, namely the obligation of all parties to fully respect humanitarian and human rights law.

 

NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said an immediate, permanent and effective ceasefire implemented by all was a necessity and should end the suffering in Gaza, as well as the terrorist threat in southern Israel.  A ceasefire could only be achieved on the ground through ensuring that there were no more rocket attacks and arms smuggling.  Confidence in mechanisms on the ground was imperative.  A political dialogue was the only way to achieve lasting peace, based on a two-State solution.

 

RIYAD AL-MALIKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority, said that adoption of the resolution had been delayed several days, despite the deepening humanitarian crisis and heavy loss of lives of Palestinian civilians.  Some 700 Palestinians had been killed and close to 3,000 had been wounded.  Moreover, Israel had relentlessly pursued its goal of ruthlessly destroying Palestinian property and infrastructure, including schools and mosques.  Nevertheless, Israel must now end its war against the Palestinian people and withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.  It must also lift the closure of borders and ensure humanitarian access to the people in need.  Israel must immediately implement the resolution, he said, adding that:  “The violence must cease so that […] we can rebuild what the brutal Israeli war machine had destroyed in Gaza.”

 

Prince SAUD Al-FAISAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said today had raised the hope for a new era in the work of the Security Council.  It had assumed its responsibility to end the violence in Gaza.  He hoped that all parties would look at the text as an affirmation of the Organization’s mandate to ensure international peace and security and alleviate human suffering.  Indeed, the text should be seen as a model for addressing future crises.

 

He went on to say that the real joy was not in what had been achieved in New York, but what would be achieved in Gaza, where he hoped that many lives would now be saved.  Adoption of the resolution would show that the Council worked for the well-being of all people and was not a tool to be manipulated by States.  At the same time, that joy was tempered by the loss of so many lives during the negotiating process.  It was said that success always had a price, but in this case, that price might have been too high.  Still, he hoped that the resolution would bring an immediate end to the current conflict and serve as a basis to move forward with peace in the Middle East.

 

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said President Mubarak had, in the presence of President Sarkozy of France, tabled a road map to settle the situation in Gaza.  The adopted resolution welcomed that initiative.  President Mubarak welcomed the resolution as a crucial support for the Egyptian efforts.  The Arab people hoped the Council would see to the immediate implementation of the resolution.  Egypt would spare no efforts, together with the Palestinians, to restore calm and provide an atmosphere conducive to negotiations towards establishment of a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  He stressed that all Palestinians were part of one fabric and had one just cause.  Egypt would make every effort to bridge the gap between them.

 

GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) said that Israel, when in left Gaza in 2005, had hoped it would never have to return.  However, after eight years of continuous rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorist organization, Hamas’ refusal to extend the period of calm, and its smuggling of weapons during that period, had left Israel with no choice but to act in self-defence.  Responsibility for the current hostilities lay squarely with Hamas.  The international community must focus its attention on the cessation of Hamas’ terrorist activities.  Any arrangement must be fully respected and secured, including the total cessation of rocket fire and smuggling, in order to be durable and to allow the possibility of lasting peace.

 

Interview with Xinhua News Agency – 19 June 2014

 

Dear friends,

 

To coincide with the visit of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang I spoke with a journalist from one of the leading Chinese news agencies - Xinhua News Agency.

 Liam with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (1)

 

The interview and subsequent piece has been picked up by a number of Chinese news outlets, for example here, but you can read the text here below:

————————————————————————————————————————–

Britain needs to better understand China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s ongoing visit here presents a great opportunity for British policy-makers to increase understanding of the Asian giant, experts say.

Upon his arrival in London on Monday for a three-day visit, Li said that he was looking forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with British leaders on bilateral affairs and other issues of common concern.

He also vowed to give impetus to and chart the course for the bilateral partnership so as to speed up the development of China-Britain relations in the upcoming decade.

Britain needs to further understand China, its needs and its policies,said Liam Byrne, a Labour member of parliament and the current shadow minister for universities, science and skills.

“Britain needs to understand what China’s core objectives are, and British policy-makers need to understand the scale and speed of what China’s leaders are introducing,” he added.

“People in Britain and the West do not understand the scale of China’s ambition to create a welfare state to rebalance its economy, and this means we often do not spot the opportunities to work more closely,” noted Byrne, who is also a former chief secretary to the Treasury in Gordon Brown’s government.

Citing the building of health care systems and pension systems, which serve as “the two foundation stones of any welfare state,” he said Britain has “great experience of building and reforming those systems.”

“We have got many things right and many things wrong in the past, and that is an expertise we should be sharing,” he said.

Byrne’s call for greater understanding of China was echoed by Kerry Brown, an associate fellow on the Asia Program at Chatham House, a renowned British think tank.

“If you said to the political elite in the UK whether they felt they truly understand China’s geopolitical and political ambitions, then I think they would give confused answers,” he told Xinhua.

“Some think China wants to be a dominant world power, others think it simply wants to be a sideline player. There is no consensus on this issue,” noted Brown, who is also a professor of Chinese politics and the director of the Chinese Studies Center at University of Sydney.

There is trust between Britain and China on some issues, such as trade, but there is a lack of trust on diplomatic and political issues, he said, pointing to the repercussions of Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 despite China’s strong objection.

“Trust is OK where both sides are clear about what they are talking about, how much they understand where the other side is coming from, and whether they both feel like they understand their own and the other side’s objectives,” he said.

Meanwhile, Byrne, the political veteran, also called for a deeper and more sophisticated relationship between Britain and China.

“We need to put things on a more long-term footing. We need to create a relationship that is more complicated and sophisticated. In Britain we need to be doing far more to introduce our children to Chinese language, to Chinese culture and Chinese history,” he said.

There needs to be many new players in the Britain-China relationship, driven by trade and investment, Byrne said, proposing to add a new city-to-city dimension to Britain-China ties.

“In that way we bring a much more complicated and in-depth dimension to the relationship for the years to come,” he said.

Also in this regard, Brown, the professor, urged to do everything to support people-to-people and grass-roots contact and help small- and medium-sized enterprises.

 

China Britain Business Council Dinner – 17 June 2014

 

It was a real honour to be invited to attend the China Britain Business Council Dinner last night in honour of the visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

 

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to give him a copy of my book: Turning to Face the East.

 

Liam with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2)

To coincide with the visit of Li Keqiang I spoke with a journalist from one of the leading Chinese news agencies - Xinhua News Agency.

 

The interview and subsequent piece has been picked up by a number of Chinese news outlets, for example here, but you can read the text here below:

————————————————————————————————————————–

Britain needs to better understand China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s ongoing visit here presents a great opportunity for British policy-makers to increase understanding of the Asian giant, experts say.

Upon his arrival in London on Monday for a three-day visit, Li said that he was looking forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with British leaders on bilateral affairs and other issues of common concern.

He also vowed to give impetus to and chart the course for the bilateral partnership so as to speed up the development of China-Britain relations in the upcoming decade.

Britain needs to further understand China, its needs and its policies,said Liam Byrne, a Labour member of parliament and the current shadow minister for universities, science and skills.

“Britain needs to understand what China’s core objectives are, and British policy-makers need to understand the scale and speed of what China’s leaders are introducing,” he added.

“People in Britain and the West do not understand the scale of China’s ambition to create a welfare state to rebalance its economy, and this means we often do not spot the opportunities to work more closely,” noted Byrne, who is also a former chief secretary to the Treasury in Gordon Brown’s government.

Citing the building of health care systems and pension systems, which serve as “the two foundation stones of any welfare state,” he said Britain has “great experience of building and reforming those systems.”

“We have got many things right and many things wrong in the past, and that is an expertise we should be sharing,” he said.

Byrne’s call for greater understanding of China was echoed by Kerry Brown, an associate fellow on the Asia Program at Chatham House, a renowned British think tank.

“If you said to the political elite in the UK whether they felt they truly understand China’s geopolitical and political ambitions, then I think they would give confused answers,” he told Xinhua.

“Some think China wants to be a dominant world power, others think it simply wants to be a sideline player. There is no consensus on this issue,” noted Brown, who is also a professor of Chinese politics and the director of the Chinese Studies Center at University of Sydney.

There is trust between Britain and China on some issues, such as trade, but there is a lack of trust on diplomatic and political issues, he said, pointing to the repercussions of Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 despite China’s strong objection.

“Trust is OK where both sides are clear about what they are talking about, how much they understand where the other side is coming from, and whether they both feel like they understand their own and the other side’s objectives,” he said.

Meanwhile, Byrne, the political veteran, also called for a deeper and more sophisticated relationship between Britain and China.

“We need to put things on a more long-term footing. We need to create a relationship that is more complicated and sophisticated. In Britain we need to be doing far more to introduce our children to Chinese language, to Chinese culture and Chinese history,” he said.

There needs to be many new players in the Britain-China relationship, driven by trade and investment, Byrne said, proposing to add a new city-to-city dimension to Britain-China ties.

“In that way we bring a much more complicated and in-depth dimension to the relationship for the years to come,” he said.

Also in this regard, Brown, the professor, urged to do everything to support people-to-people and grass-roots contact and help small- and medium-sized enterprises.

 

‘We must rev up our relationship with India’ – Times Higher Education article – 27 February

 

Last week I led a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to India. Whilst on the trip I wrote an article on UK / India collaboration on Higher Education and particularly International Students for the Times Higher Educational Supplement.  You can read the text of my article below:

 

We must rev up our relationship with India

27 FEBRUARY 2014

The UK has to strengthen ties with Asia if it is to reverse the decline in international students, says Liam Byrne

The fall in international student numbers has caused widespread concern across UK universities – and rightly so. Amid a booming global market for higher education, a drop in numbers reveals one blunt truth: Britain is losing market share.

I’ve just returned from India, where I was getting to the bottom of what we need to do to stop the decline and restart the growth. Three facts are striking.

First, we are not even at the “end of the beginning” of our education relationship. Education leaders in India are very clear about the value of international links. “We want our students to be able to compete as global citizens,” one college principal said to me. It’s as simple as that.

The British Council has breathtaking forecasts about the size of the Indian student market. It is not simply that there are more than 600 million people under the age of 25, it is also that Indian students have the biggest appetite to learn abroad. In a country that is clear about the economic virtues of learning English, just 10 per cent of the 1.2 billion population speak English and only 5 per cent speak it well. There is a huge market for us to aim at.

Second, the British education brand still holds extraordinary lustre – but our competition is increasing dramatically.

In a Q&A with 100 students at the elite Sri Venkateswara College at the University of Delhi, I heard from India’s future research scientists, biotech entrepreneurs, teachers, journalists and politicians. What is fascinating is how many of these young people consider international experience and connections to be critical to their future success. But plenty are worried about the chances of landing a graduate level job in the UK even if they manage to undertake their undergraduate studies here.

Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at the University of Oxford, recently argued in a national newspaper that a thesaurus does not contain enough words to describe the folly of the government’s approach; last week, his comments featured in the op-ed pages of The Hindu andHindustan Times.

I know better than most the challenges of getting the immigration balance right. When I was immigration minister, I created the UK Border Agency and introduced the points system. I took immense care to create a system that I thought would work well for UK universities, not least because every British ambassador I met told me that increasing foreign student numbers was the key to expanding our long-term influence in countries where we are not quite the centre of diplomatic attention.

No doubt I did not get everything right. But the signals sent by the reforms of the past three years are heard loud and clear by potential students in India, creating a great wall of noise that makes it harder, not easier, to get the message through about our brilliant UK universities.

That is why it is simply ridiculous that students are in the “net migration target”, and that is why David Hanson, the shadow immigration minister, and I will be soon hosting round-table talks with university and further education leaders to discuss how to claw back lost ground. After all, universities in India have plenty of choice in terms of selecting international partners. One leading principal told me that she was partnering with institutions in Germany and Italy because they teach English well – and more cheaply than we do.

Third, we have to think more radically about building a deeper and wider UK-India education relationship.

Indian vice-chancellors are hungry not just for UK students, but for joint research, faculty and postdocs, beyond the 600 or so education partnerships created through the UK-India Education Research Initiative.

India’s business leaders, like their counterparts in the UK, want a better supply of more “employable” students, and the Indian government has set a target of upskilling an incredible 500 million people within a decade. Like us, Indian policymakers worry about closing the gap between secondary school and university, and that means vast opportunities for our great further education colleges.

So we should be immensely ambitious. If the global race is anything, it is an innovation race. Indian leaders know that they have to double the less than 1 per cent of gross domestic product they currently spend on R&D if they are to put “affordable innovation” within reach of the Indian mass market. Frankly, we face the same challenge. The fastest way out of today’s living standards crisis is to increase the number of people working in knowledge-intensive sectors, where wages are 40 per cent higher than the national average.

You need only look at the extraordinary success of Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of the Indian carmaker Tata Motors, just north of my Birmingham, Hodge Hill constituency, to see what is possible. The fundamentals of our innovation relationship are strong and getting stronger. Developments such as the new Emerging Powers Research Fund, for international scientific collaboration, and Newton International Fellowship scholarships are exactly the kinds of initiatives I called for in my book Turning to Face the East: How Britain Can Prosper in the Asian Century (2013).

The surest way to put this relationship in the slow lane is to make it ever harder for students, teachers and researchers to get across the border.

For political junkies, it is a good time to be in India, the world’s largest democracy. The country is about to go to the polls and, for the first time in years, a change is on the cards.

During my visit, the finance minister presented his budget, a last chance to put a few poll-winning goodies before the voters. And what was there among the headlines? Big new subsidies for student loans. Indian politicians know the allure of a better education for the world’s biggest middle class. We should be doing more to put those dreams within reach.

 

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/we-must-rev-up-our-relationship-with-india/2011569.article 

 

Mutual Benefits – Research Fortnight article

 

Dear friends,

 

Last week I led a delegation from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to India. Whilst on the trip I wrote an article on UK / India collaboration on Science and Innovation. You can read the text of my article below:

 

Mutual benefits

The UK and India can both prosper through forging an innovation partnership, writes Liam Byrne in Bangalore

If Britain is to escape the cost of living crisis, it must grow the size and strength of its knowledge-intensive companies, which offer a pay-packet 40 per cent bigger than the national average and generate a third of the national output but currently employ just one in five of the nation’s workers. To do so, Britain needs to become the best place in the world for collaborative science and innovation—and I am convinced that will require deep roots in India. So I have been in Bangalore this week to study the future of what is set to become one of the UK’s most important relationships.

From its modest start as the humble home of small firms like Wipro, Infosys and Biocon, Bangalore has grown to hosts 40 per cent of India’s IT industry and most of its biotech. But it is the city’s ambitions for the future that have really caught my eye. The state government’s cabinet is clear about its plans to supplant San Francisco as the world’s leading IT hub within the next eight years. On Friday the Deccan Herald carried stories of a proposal for Bangalore to become India’s first “smart” city. The business community is organising behind ambitious plans for new infrastructure. This is an ambitious place. How can the UK and India harness these ambitions and ride into the future together?

There are three things to do. First, innovation should be put at the heart of the relationship between the UK and India. This is a delicate moment. The British government is scaling back its foreign aid to India and instead proposes to provide technical assistance and collaboration on great global causes.

With less money to spend in the future, Britain needs to spend strategically. Speaking to development experts, village and city leaders and economists, it is clear that there will be huge demand for help on building low-carbon cities, public health, water and sanitation, urban transit, education and, crucially, good governance. These are all areas where systematic, creative and applied policy innovation between the UK and India could not only boost inclusive growth, but also deliver ideas to offer to the rest of the world.

Second, the damage done to the image of British further and higher education must be repaired. The British government’s net migration target has projected the impression that Indian students are not welcome in the UK. Tim Garton Ash of the University of Oxford recently wrote: “Stupid. Incoherent. Short-sighted. Cack-handed. Intrusive. Counter-productive. One thesaurus is not enough to describe the folly of the British government’s policy towards foreign students.” His comments were widely featured in India this week on the op ed pages of the Hindu and Hindustan Times.

As I have said before, it is ridiculous that students are included in the net migration target, not just for the immediate damage but also because it stops people from thinking far more radically about how to build a deeper, wider education relationship which allows students to incorporate study in India into British degree or research programmes—and vice versa. The business community in Bangalore is seeking such programmes.

The British Council has breathtaking forecasts about the size of the Indian student market: it is not simply 600 million people under the age of 25, but their extraordinary international mobility. Education leaders in India are ambitious for international links and the British education brand still holds great lustre, but the competition is increasing.

Yet as Britain pivots east, India is pivoting west to America and east to Japan. The US-India civil nuclear deal struck in 2005, which enables India to buy nuclear fuel and technology from the US, has yet to yield, but strategically the US-India relationship is strong. It is striking how many of the entrepreneurs I met in Bangalore were educated in America—and how many young people in India look to the US before Europe. Meanwhile collaborations between India and Japan are also strengthening.

The third thing to get right is how to move from shared research to shared innovation. Since 2008, UK-India research has grown to some £150 million, not least because of the excellent work of Research Councils UK and the British High Commission’s science and innovation team. But the challenge now is to build a much bigger innovation relationship.

So I should like to see a good chunk of the £90 million fund for research collaboration with emerging nations, announced by the chancellor George Osborne in his autumn statement, dedicated to UK-India innovation. I want more work to build stronger, bigger joint catapult centres in Bangalore, a popular idea with Bangalore IT entrepreneurs. Crucially I want to see a long-term plan for UK-India innovation that integrates the work of the research councils, the Technology Strategy Board and UK Trade and Investment, with perhaps a bigger shared venture fund. One model for this kind of coordination is the UK-Israel hi-tech hub in the British embassy in Tel Aviv.

The UK and India are capable of great things, as evidenced by the success of Jaguar Land Rover just north of my Hodge Hill constituency. The Royal Society’s bold plan for the first Commonwealth science conference to be held in Bangalore is a fantastic chance to light up in technicolor UK-India science collaboration. The vibrant UK-India Education and Research Initiative, the new emerging powers fund and the Newton scholarships run by the British Academy and the Royal Society are all very welcome initiatives and exactly the kind of proposal I called for in my book, Turning to Face the East, last year.

Britain should be immensely ambitious about the UK-India innovation partnership. History has made the two countries good friends. But the future makes us partners. Let’s make it a partnership with ambition.

Liam Byrne is the shadow minister for universities, skills and science. He led the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to India this week.

 

Interview with People’s Daily – “China is now facing challenges-an exclusive interview with Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Minister for Higher Education”

 

People's Daily Interview - Feb 2014

 

I recently did an interview with People’s Daily one of the largest news organisations in China. I spoke about the need for deeper relations between the UK and China and shared my understanding of ‘the Chinese Dream’.

 

You can watch my interview using the link below;

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-bBpKook

 

 

New Report from the APPG on East Asian Business

Dear Friends,

 

I thought you’d like to see this new report we launched in the House of Lords this week, produced by Roland Berger.

 

Britain needs to turn east if we’re to rebuild ourselves as a mighty trading nation
once more – and this vital report helps show us how.

As Chinese leaders step up their reforms in search of the ‘Chinese dream’, a huge new
market the size of Greece is being created every eleven weeks. But we need to get
organised if we’re to share in those new riches – and we need to think carefully and
strategically about how we structure the win-wins that will be good for both countries.

This report could not have arrived at a better time. It offers a detailed study of how
we can clear away the barriers that stop us exporting, become China’s favourite place
to invest and build the joint ventures that will create jobs both here and in China. It
demands to be read by business people, policy makers and politicians everywhere. In
the APPG, we’ll be doing our utmost to ensure its ideas, messages and proposals are
heard far and wide.

 

I hope you enjoy reading the report you can access the report by clicking here.

 

 

action centre

Liam Byrne MP’s twitter

Follow @LiamByrneMP on twitter.

Issues

Facebook