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Peace And Security (Un Charter)

Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps Her Majesty's Govern-are taking to uphold the principles outlined in Article 1.1 of the Charter of the United Nations.

We continue to work with other like-minded countries for the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

Bearing in mind that Article 1.1 of the Charter of the United Nations declares that the central purpose of the United Nations is

"to take effective collective measures for the suppression of acts of aggression",
and recognising what the Foreign Secretary has just said about the invasion of South Vietnam by regular forces of the North Vietnamese Army, why have the British Government not so far condemned this agression or sought to raise the matter in the United Nations? Are the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State not concerned that the machinery for keeping the peace seems to be breaking down in the same way as it did before the last war?

The hon. Gentleman is seeking to fall into the same trap as is his hon. Friend. I agree with my right hon. Friend—as I always do—that the important thing now is to foster a spirit of reconciliation in Vietnam. The interests of the Vietnamese people are not helped by attempts to allocate a percentage of blame to one side or the other. Throughout the whole history of Vietnam the United Nations has never been involved in the problem except from a humanitarian point of view. Neither the Government of the North nor the Government of the South are members of the United Nations, so it would not have been easy for the United Nations to have been involved.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the massacres which were forecast by Opposition Members never took place, that for the first time there is a genuine peace in Vietnam, and that the people have the opportunity to rebuild their country in a spirit of genuine reconciliation? Will my right hon. Friend make clear that the British Government will take a cordial view of that situation and give full support to the new authorities in South Vietnam and North Vietnam which are seeking to achieve it?

I think that we have to recognise that over the years terrible acts of violence have been committed by both sides. That is why I think it was with a sense of great relief that when the end came it was found that not many lives were lost. It is the wish of the British Government to assist in restoration, rebuilding and humanitarian assistance.