Our Responsibility to Protect Civilians

Civilians caught up in conflict deserve our protection. Jo Cox was working on a report on the responsibility to protect civilians (R2P) with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, which our Vice President Alison McGovern has assisted in finishing.

Today that report launches, and you can read it here.

To coincide with the launch of this report, we have encouraged Labour MPs to sign our statement on the responsibility to protect civilians, to show our commitment as a Party to the international obligations that the last Labour government signed us up to in 2005.

Over 60 MPs have so far signed the statement so far and we are grateful for their support. The full text and signatories are listed below.

Our Secretary Edie Fairservice has also written about the report and R2P for Labour List, which you can read here.

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We believe Labour is an internationalist party with a proud record of fighting injustices around the world, from supporting Indian independence, to the anti-apartheid struggle, to leading action to protect civilians in Sierra Leone and Kosovo. As Robin Cook said, we must never ‘turn a blind eye to how other governments behave and a deaf ear to the cries for help of their people’.

The next Labour Government must learn from the many successes and failures of our foreign policy decisions. Every situation is different, but we will always be guided by our internationalist principles and by our international obligations such as the Responsibility To Protect Civilians, which we signed up to with each and every government in the U.N. in 2005.

This principle acknowledges that when a government either wilfully fails to protect the security of its citizens, or is unable to do so, the international community has a clear obligation to intervene, choosing timely and decisive action from a wide range of approaches, including diplomatic means, sanctions and in the most extreme cases, military operations.

Through our development work and following any direct interventions we will always stand ready to support communities and countries to rebuild with a long term development plan to secure safety, stability and prosperity for their people.

The merits of any actions we take or decline to take must always be carefully considered and scrutinised, recognising that both action and inaction are a choice and each has a consequence. The lessons of Iraq will be important in those considerations – so too must be the lessons of Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Syria. The next Labour Government must make the case for an ethical foreign policy and champion a progressive approach to humanitarian intervention.

We have always believed that all people matter, that global inequalities are no less our concern than those we fight at home and that we have moral obligations that reach beyond our borders to people we will never meet and places we will never visit. We will never shirk these responsibilities and will always work to further progressive Labour values on the global stage.

Signed by:
Glenys Kinnock, LCID Co-President
Rachel Reeves, LCID Co-President
Alison McGovern, LCID Vice-President
Debbie Abrahams, LCID Vice-President
Gareth Thomas, LCID Vice-President
Hilary Benn, LCID Vice-President
Ivan Lewis, LCID Vice-President
John Battle, LCID Vice-President
Jack McConnell, LCID Vice-President
Seb Dance MEP, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Doughty, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Timms, LCID Vice-President
Stephen Twigg, IDC Chair
Angela Eagle
Angela Smith
Ann Coffey
Anna Turley
Barry Sheerman
Ben Bradshaw
Caroline Flint
Catherine McKinnell
Chris Bryant
Chuka Ummuna
Dan Jarvis
David Hanson
David Lammy
Emma Reynolds
Lord Frank Judd
Gloria De Piero
Gisela Stuart
Harriet Harman
Heidi Alexander
Helen Jones
Holly Walker-Lynch
Ian Austin
Jamie Reed
Jeff Smith
Jess Phillips
Joan Ryan
John Mann
John Woodcock
Jon Ashworth
Jonathon Reynolds
Karen Buck
Kate Green
Kerry McCarthy
Liam Byrne
Liz Kendall
Louise Haigh
Louise Ellman
Lucy Powell
Margaret Hodge
Maria Eagle
Mary Creagh
Mary Glindon
Matthew Pennycook
Melanie Onn
Michael Dugher
Mike Gapes
Neil Coyle
Nic Dakin
Pat McFadden
Paul Flynn
Rob Marris
Rosena Allin-Khan
Ruth Smeeth
Sharon Hodgson
Stella Creasy
Stephen Kinnock
Steve Reed
Susan Elan Jones
Tracy Babin
Valerie Vaz
Virendra Sharma
Wes Streeting