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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We share the concerns raised by the preliminary report of the International Election Observation Mission that the Russian parliamentary elections were well organised but failed to meet many international standards.
We welcome and support the work of the OSCE and Council of Europe to assist the authorities and civil society of the Russian Federation in continuing to improve its democratic process. We look foward to seeing the detailed report of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and will use appropriate bilateral and/or multilateral opportunities to encourage the Russian Federation to follow up any recommendations made by ODIHR before the presidential elections scheduled for March 2004.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government's primary agency for promoting academic and cultural exchanges overseas is the British Council, which receives a grant of around £170 million per year from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The British Council has regional offices throughout Russia, including in Moscow, St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. Among other services, it provides an information and consulting service for those wishing to study in the UK, a cybercentre with access to British Internet resources and English language teaching and examinations. In addition the council runs projects in Russia covering education, science, the arts and development and training services. Full details of the work of the British Council in Russia can be found on the Internet at http://www.britishcouncil.ru/.
The Public Diplomacy Challenge Fund considers bids, primarily from our overseas posts, for funding for projects linked to public diplomacy; including those with an academic, cultural or sporting theme. Current or recent projects in Russia include: the UK/Russia forum on genetics, which promotes greater understanding of issues arising from advances in biosciences; UK fashion week in Yekatrinburg, which promoted cutting edge UK design ideas; and a range of projects such as a Manchester week and a Damian Hirst exhibition showcasing the UK in St Petersburg.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: At the meeting of states parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva on 27 and 28 November, a new legally binding Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) was adopted. The new Protocol (the 5th to the CCW) sets out obligations and best practice for the clearance of post-conflict ERW (munitions used during an armed conflict that should have exploded but failed to do so or munitions which have been abandoned during an armed conflict.) The principal obligations in the new protocol are:
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On the concluding day of the meeting of states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which took place from 10 to 14 November, there was agreement by consensus on a politically binding final document which enjoins all states parties to the following actions:
As with the earlier meeting of BWC experts in August, which had prepared the way for political decision-making, there was an impressive level of participation. Some 92 states parties were represented and a total of 32 national statements were delivered, including one notably from Iraq which for the first time showed an open and positive engagement with its obligations under the convention.
The United Kingdom was grateful to the Chair, Ambassador Toth of Hungary, for the efforts he made to achieve consensus on a final document that reflects the commonality of views and approaches that were demonstrated throughout. The commitment to assess progress at the Sixth Review Conference in 2006 on the extent of which states parties have put in place the necessary legislation is, in our view, particularly important.
The outcome of the November meeting represents a very positive start to the work programme that lies ahead of us. Success was particularly important this year, as it is to be hoped that a precedent has now been set for agreement on effective action to emerge from
The United Kingdom believes that the success of the meetings in 2003 has also helped to prove to the wider arms control community that this new process can be made to work. It has delivered a shared international analysis and a readiness to adopt practical measures. Most important, a co-operative spirit continued to prevail throughout the discussions in Geneva, which also augurs well for the future.
South Africa will chair the meetings next year on suspicious outbreaks of disease and the need for improved international surveillance. The UK takes over in 2005 with the task of examining a possible code of conduct for scientists. Work has already begun on our preparations for both of these meetings. I will keep the House informed of developments and outcomes in 2004.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are introducing new controls to license the activities of those who trade in military goods between overseas countries (also known as trafficking and brokering); transfer technology for military goods by electronic means (e-mail, fax, etc.); transfer technology, by any means, for use in connection with WMD; and provide technical assistance for use in connection with WMD.
These controls are contained in the Export of Goods, Transfer of Technology and Provision of Technical Assistance (Control) Order 2003 (SI 2003/2764) and the Trade in Goods (Control) Order 2003 (SI 2003/2765) and will come into force on 1 May 2004. Section 9(3) of the Export Control Act 2002 requires the Secretary of State to give guidance about the general principles to be followed when exercising licensing powers.
My right honourable friend the then Minister for Europe (Mr Peter Hain) made a statement to Parliament on 26 October 2000 (Official Report, col. 200W), setting out the criteria that the Government will use in considering all individual applications for licences to export goods on the Military List, which forms Part III of Schedule 1 to the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1994; advance approvals for promotion prior to formal application for an export licence; and licence applications for the export of dual-use goods as specified in Annex 1 of Council Regulation (EC) 1334/2000 where there are grounds for believing that the end-user of such goods will be the armed forces or internal security forces or similar entities in the recipient country, or that the goods will be used to produce arms or other goods on the Military List for such end-users. On 8 July 2002, my right
The Government have decided that they will continue to use these criteria, in the same way, in considering all individual applications for licences as set out in the new orders made under the Export Control Act 2002, taking account of the circumstances prevailing at the time and other announced government policies.
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