§ Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ What agreements were reached at the world summit in Johannesburg to improve standards in governance and human rights in the developing world.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos)
My Lords, the Plan of Implementation agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development re-affirmed existing agreements on human rights and stressed the importance of good governance in all countries. The Johannesburg summit recognised that good governance within each country and at the international level is essential for sustainable development. It also stressed the importance of peace, stability and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
§ Lord Astor of Hever
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Do the Government accept that the framework for promoting good governance has been seriously weakened by Libya's appointment to chair the UN Commission on Human Rights? Did the Government use the opportunity of the world summit to protest against that bizarre and worrying decision?
§ Baroness Amos
My Lords, noble Lords will be aware that the UN Commission on Human Rights is made up of 54 member states. Votes take place each year so it is difficult for any one country or any group of countries to gain a sense of who will be voted on to the commission. The noble Lord will know that serious lobbying takes place. There is no doubt that the human rights mechanisms of the UN have been weakened by that process. We did not protest at WSSD but we have made our views on human rights and on good governance in Africa absolutely clear. I am sure that the Libyans understand our views.
§ Lord Judd
My Lords, does my noble friend accept that in the context of Johannesburg there is widespread respect for the commitment and leadership that she and her colleagues have shown? Does she accept that in relation to what she said about good governance internationally, it is essential that we do not fall into the trap of saying, "Do as we say", as distinct from, "Do as we do"? Does she also accept that there is a major issue of credibility in the 402 environmental sphere, as the lion's share of pollution is caused by the industrialised, developed world, and that in that context it is absolutely essential to persuade our American friends to come on board in a collective policy?
§ Baroness Amos
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his kind remarks. Those who represented the UK Government at the summit did so extremely well. While the results were not all that we would have hoped for, they were certainly much better than we had anticipated following the meeting held in Bali.
I agree that credibility is essential, and that is why the commitment on implementation that came out of WSSD is so important. Noble Lords will be aware that we have been in discussion with our colleagues in the United States. We do not share their concerns, for example, about the Kyoto Protocol. It is important that the United States comes on board in respect of this agenda and we shall continue to do all that we can to work with our American colleagues to enable that to happen.
§ Lord Shutt of Greetland
My Lords, does the Minister agree that the agreements reached at the world summit need to stick? There is a plan of implementation and it reads like a huge set of exhortations and aspirations. To be certain of delivery, can the Minister indicate how the plan is to be audited, including improvements to governance and human rights?
§ Baroness Amos
My Lords, I totally agree with the noble Lord that it is important that the commitments stick. That is why the commitment to implementation that came out of WSSD is so important. There will be different mechanisms in terms of monitoring the commitments that have been made. The noble Lord will be aware that the UN has a key role to play, not just through the UN environment programme, but also through the UN Development Programme because the key point about the WSSD summit was that it brought together environment, development and other issues in a concrete way for the first time.