Monthly Archives: October 2001

Military action in Afghanistan

Gavin Strang’s speech to local Labour Party

Gavin Strang MP tonight addressed a meeting of the East Edinburgh & Musselburgh Constituency Labour Party.

Extracts of Gavin Strang’s speech follow:

‘The enormity of the situation before us is almost impossible to comprehend.
‘The fact that terrorists were able to carry out the atrocities that killed 6,000 people on 11 September is a terrifying demonstration of the power that a malign organisation can wield.

‘And I am convinced that the perpetrators of the atrocities on 11 September will not have been intending to stop there. They will continue to carry out further acts of terror until they are stopped – and if they can kill even more people in the process, they will do so.

‘It is vital, therefore, that the terrorists are stopped.

‘That is why I believe that the current military action is self-defence – and it is legitimate under Article 51 of the UN Charter and the Resolutions that the UN Security council have adopted since 11 September.

‘There would appear to be compelling evidence that the terrorist organisation responsible for 11 September is based in Afghanistan and that the Taliban regime is supporting it. I believe that it is therefore appropriate that the US and allies take action to disable terrorist bases and Afghan military installations that could provide cover for terrorists.

‘I have not come to this view lightly. The consequences of the current military action will not be straightforward – there will be civilian casualties, there will be reprisals, and there will be unease in many countries.

‘If I thought that we could prevent further terror solely by other means – diplomatic, political or economic – without military action, I would be calling for today’s military action to be stopped. But while diplomatic, political and economic efforts are vital – as is a massive humanitarian programme – I accept the need for military action.

‘Today’s crisis offers opportunities as well as problems. The international coalition that has formed since 11 September has tremendous potential. Countries like China, Russia and the US working together gives us a great opportunity to make progress not only in combating international terrorism, but also in tackling the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the availability of weapons of mass destruction.

‘The current crisis has drawn to people’s attention the availability of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological and nuclear. Current security arrangements leave a lot to be desired. There must now be a renewed international initiative to combat that threat.’

Promote the case for a world court

A letter in The Times newspaper by Gavin Strang

Sir, On October 4 Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British Ambassador to the UN, formally deposited the instrument of ratification for the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the United Nations. The United Kingdom has become the 42nd nation to ratify the statute. Once 60 ratifications have been achieved, the ICC will be the first permanent world court to allow the prosecution of individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The ICC will act as a court of last resort if nations are unwilling or unable to prosecute those accused of the grossest crimes known to humanity.

As it moves into action against accused individuals, it will begin to act as a deterrent to those future leaders planning massacre, as in Srebrenica, or genocide, as in Rwanda. By reducing the potential for future hatred the ICC will help to reduce the potential for future conflict.

The ICC is not retrospective and cannot prosecute crimes occurring before it is formally established; it will be unable to act against those accused of the terrible crimes in New York and Washington. But precedents exist for dealing with this situation legally as the trial in The Hague over the Lockerbie bombing shows. Proportionate and targeted military action may be necessary, but in the end a court could bring justice and improve the chances for lasting peace.

The British Government should work to persuade all nations to ratify the ICC statute and leave no hiding place for future war criminals.

Yours faithfully,


(Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for World Government), House of Commons.