Issue No. 19, October 1997
UK Labour Party Conference:
'Britain's new approach to the world,' Speech by Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook, Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 2
Speech by Foreign Secretary
"...with a new Labour Government, Britain is now leading the
drive to ban landmines. In my first week as Foreign Secretary I
flew to Paris and Bonn and got agreement from their Governments
that we would work together to secure a treaty to ban the export,
import or production of landmines. Two weeks ago in Oslo we
approved that treaty. Approved it without qualification, without
Thousands of children across the world have lost a limb for life
because of a minute of play in which they ran onto a landmine.
Let's stop it now. Let's ban the trade in all such landmines.
Britain is, again, leading by cleaning up the arms trade. The
Scott Report revealed ministers who did not worry about what Saddam
Hussein might do with his military machine, but who were terrified
that you might find out they were helping to build it. And, you
know, he never paid the bills. That was another lesson of the Scott
Inquiry. Brutal, megalomaniac dictators tend not to pay their
invoices on time.
We fought the election on the commitment that we would not give
any more licences for arms exports that would conspire with
conflict or abet repression. We have carried out that commitment.
We have put in place tougher criteria that are biting and are
delivering our policies. Britain has one of the largest arms
industries in Europe. We have a duty to the four hundred thousand
people who work in our defence industries to preserve their jobs.
We have a duty, both as a Government with a commitment to the
British economy, and as a Labour movement which includes the unions
who represent those workers.
With that duty, though, comes a responsibility. As one of the
world's four largest arms exporters, we must ensure proper
regulation of the arms trade, not just in Britain, but in the
world. When I announced our new criteria for export licences, the
Prime Minister of France, Lionel Jospin, welcomed them and said he
saw only 'advantages in supporting the proposals of my friend to
moralise the arms trade'. I can now tell Conference that I have
followed up that welcome by inviting France to join Britain in
proposing a European Code of Conduct to regulate the arms
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.
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