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Conflict Prevention

Volume 577: debated on Monday 17 March 2014

14. What steps his Department is taking to support conflict prevention; and if he will make a statement. (903058)

Together with the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence is a full partner in the delivery of the July 2011 building stability overseas strategy, and uses a multi-departmental approach to prioritise UK activity in upstream conflict prevention and stabilising fragile and conflict-affected states around the world in association with partner nations.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence has developed the international defence engagement strategy jointly with the FCO. Published in February 2013, this sets out how the Ministry of Defence can contribute most effectively to the building stability overseas strategy, as well as wider overseas Government objectives.

I welcome the Ministry of Defence’s involvement in the strategy. Security sector reform is one of its key elements with regard to conflict prevention. How do we ensure that, by building capacity among local security forces, we do not inadvertently enable repression and repressive tactics among those organisations, and that we instead make people feel safer in those countries?

My hon. Friend will be aware that, when taking training to countries we partner, we put a great deal of effort into instilling what might be called the “moral component” of warfare very directly into what we teach and into what we inculcate in them. That is a very strong part of our overall offer. We can never guarantee that the people we train will not go on to do terrible things, but we can reduce the chances of that happening and make sure that the ethos we are rightly proud of in our own armed forces is exported to others.

21. The Minister spoke about multi-departmental work, but may I press him on multilateral work? What is he doing to make sure that a priority of work with NATO and the European Union is a focus on conflict prevention? (903065)

My hon. Friend takes a great interest in this and will be aware of the large number of military and civilian missions that the European Union has mounted: there are 16 in all, four of which are military. My hon. Friend will be aware of the EU training mission to Mali—EUTM Mali—and EUCAP Nestor. It is very important to understand that in all of these scenarios we have to work with partners, meaning NATO first and foremost, but other partnerships where it is expedient to do so.