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Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the UN on whether a Chapter VIII intervention into Darfur would be possible. (94717)

We believe a UN peacekeeping force, with Chapter VII UN Charter powers, is best placed in the long-term to ensure resolution of the appalling Darfur conflict. We are, with international partners, pressing the Government of Sudan to accept such a force. We are therefore not currently considering a Chapter VIII Article 53 operation, whereby the Security Council could authorise enforcement action by a regional organisation such as the African Union and its Mission in Sudan (AMIS) force. But as Article 52 of Chapter VIII permits regional arrangements to undertake the peaceful settlement of disputes, AMIS already is a Chapter VIII operation, which we have strongly supported. It has and continues to play a vital role.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she plans to take to prevent further conflict in Darfur after the expiration of the African Union's extended peacekeeping mandate. (94767)

A UN peacekeeping force, as foreseen in UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1706, is best placed to prevent further conflict in Darfur. We are working with our Partners at the UN to establish this force, including by engaging with the Government of Sudan to agree to its deployment.

In the meantime we are urging the Government of Sudan and rebels to stop the fighting, and to commit to a political process to create a permanent end to conflict. The Government and the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) must resume political dialogue to provide a peaceful resolution to this crisis. To this end my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development met President Bashir in Khartoum on 16 September to press Sudan to accept a UN force. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, raised Darfur with Foreign Ministers during the UN General Assembly, 18-22 September, to secure sustained pressure on Khartoum to comply with UNSCRs 1593 and 1706.

The UK is also supporting the African Union to implement the DPA. We have seconded a team of communications experts to help them publicise the DPA's benefits to the people of Darfur, and we are doing this directly through the BBC World Service Trust's Darfur Lifeline Radio.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the potential for using a UN Chapter VIII to mandate the African Union deployment in Darfur. (95068)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) today (UIN 94717).