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Burma: War Crimes

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received requesting him to propose to the United Nations Security Council the establishment of a commission of inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Burmese regime; and what steps he has taken in consequence. (317000)

Since early December 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has received more than 70 letters from MPs and members of the public calling for the UK to support a UN Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity in Burma. We have also taken note of the Early Day Motion on this issue, and I have met campaign groups, NGOs and representatives of ethnic groups based on the Thai/Burma border, to hear their views.

In consequence of these representations and discussions, the Government have given further careful thought to the question of a UN Commission of Inquiry. We regularly test the level of consensus for action on Burma at the UN through our efforts to secure Security Council discussion. We secured tough resolutions in the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council and will continue to raise abuse of human rights in the year ahead. Our assessment remains that an attempt to establish a Commission of Inquiry would not receive the requisite support from a significant number of countries and in particular veto holding members of the Security Council. We are concerned that if we tried and failed to secure agreement this would be interpreted by the Burmese regime as a diplomatic victory and approval of its conduct. The Government will nonetheless continue to do all they can to highlight the appalling and systematic abuse of human rights in Burma, and work to secure as robust an international response as possible.