At 11am on Tuesday 9th February there will be an Adjournment Debate in Parliament on the government’s conflict prevention policy.
Adjournment debates are decided by ballot throught he Speaker’s Office. Private members, in this case MP Simon Hughes, who is also the co-chair of the All Party Group on Conflict Issues, request a slot for their chosen subject. During the 90 minute time allocation questions are put to a minister on that chosen subject. Answers will be sought to questions about government spending on conflict prevention, progress on developing a coherent, funded conflict policy, effective measurement of conflict prevention initiatives and supporting local initiatives in high risk regions.
In recent times, high level members of the armed forces have spoken out about their concerns that there are not enough trained personnel or other resources to deal with the realities of conflict in areas around the world. Interestingly, their focus has not just been about weapons and helicopters.
In January 2010, General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, addressed the International Institute for Strategic Studies on “Future Conflict and Its Prevention.”
We must put much more emphasis on preventing conflict, on ensuring fragile states do not become the Afghanistan of tomorrow. Whilst this is much more than a military role, we must be structured and resourced to play what can often be a key part. Hi-tech weapons platforms are not a good way to help stabilise tottering states – nor might their cost leave us any money to help in any other way – any more than they impress opponents equipped with weapons costing a fraction. We must get this balance right.
In March 2007 The Department for International Development (DFID) published a report called Preventing Conflict. It is an excellent report and worth reading. Two things stood out for me in this report. The first is in the preface by Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
By 2010, half the world’s poorest people could be living in states that are experiencing, or at risk of, violent conflict.
Politicised allocation of water and land fuels low level conflict which can spark major violence.
The debate will be televised live and will also be available to view at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Home.aspx
A transcript will be made available after the debate, often the day after on www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmhansrd.htm
90 minutes in Parliament is a long time! Lets hope that this raises the profile of an incredibly important All Party Group and that there will be something worthwhile to report.