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Un General Assembly: Uk Votes On Cambodia

Volume 414: debated on Tuesday 4 November 1980

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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how their delegation at the United Nations General Assembly has been instructed to vote on the retention of representation of the Pol Pot régime in Kampuchea.

My Lords, we thought it right to support the ASEAN countries in the recent General Assembly votes on Cambodia. On credentials, we were among 74 countries who rejected an attempt by the Vietnamese and their friends to amend the unopposed report of the Credentials Committee. I have placed in the Library copies of our explanation of vote and of our intervention in the General Assembly discussion on the 16th October.

Yes, my Lords; but is it not inconceivable that the United Nations should endorse the Pol Pot régime, which is the most infamous since Hitler, massacring thousands of men, women and children—worse even than Hitler's treatment of the Jews? Would it not have been possible to urge that the seat should remain vacant until a new situation had arisen?

My Lords, of course we did not in any way give our support or add any credence to the Pol Pot régime. Successive British Governments have made clear their detestation of the democratic Kampuchean régime, in particular at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and we neither want nor expect its return to power. As for the suggestion of leaving the seat empty, this was not the proposal facing us, though the seat might have been left empty had the amendment passed. In any case, this would have been seen by all concerned as a step towards acquiescing in Vietnam's aggression.

My Lords, has not this United Nations decision prejudiced Vietnam's acceptance of the proposal for a United Nations supervision of the next election in Kampuchea? Is not the proposal of the ASEAN nations for a conference and aid to reconstruction in Indo-China much the better approach?

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right about the conference proposal, which was coupled, of course, with the call for the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops and enjoyed over-whelming support. We hope that on sober reflection Vietnam will decide to take part in an early conference.

My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that this is another example of the operation of international power politics?

My Lords, I am not quite sure that I follow the gist of the noble Lord's question, which I must say was a bit mysterious.