Campbell: ‘Yes’ to UN intervention in Zimbabe

The United Nations should intervene in Zimbabwe, the Liberal Democrat leader argued today.

Menzies Campbell reiterated calls for UN action against Robert Mugabe, but cautioned it was first crucial to build up regional support.

Addressing delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton, Sir Menzies acknowledged intervention in Zimbabwe would be difficult but insisted it was now the right thing to do, pointing to the moral argument set out by the Archbishop of York.

But, the Lib Dem leader said the international community was currently hamstrung by a UN charter which prioritises sovereignty over intervention and regional sympathies for the Mugabe regime.

Sir Menzies, who is considered to be playing to his strengths when discussing foreign policy, explained the UN Charter had been informed by the legacy of the Second World War, and therefore gave priority to the sovereignty of states.

But he appeared to back comments by Kofi Anan, who said it was time to consider giving primacy to the sovereignty of individuals.

Sir Menzies repeated the justifications set out by Tony Blair in 1999 for intervention in foreign states: there must be a serious breach of human rights, this must be causing regional instability, there must be regional support for action, the mission must have a reasonable chance of success, and action must be consistent with other UN resolutions.

Of these, he argued, a regional chance of success was the most crucial, as the international community could not justifiably intervene to save a country and then leave it in a worse state.

Darfur is also important, Sir Menzies continued, and it should be a credit to Gordon Brown that he had made a commitment to stop the conflict.

His comments followed a civil rights rally last night, where the Lib Dem leader challenged the prime minister to place Zimbabwe at the forefront of defending human right abroad.

In a question and answer session with the broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, Sir Menzies also set out his argument for Europe.

He said the benefits of the European Union were obvious, seen in 60 years of peace and prosperity as well as the number of countries queuing up to join the union.

Sir Menzies said: “Eurosceptics dream of a Britain that never was and an England that never can be.”

He accused the government of running scared from residual Euroscepeticism, especially in the right wing press, and in doing so inhibiting the country.

Last week, the Lib Dem leader called for a full debate on Britain’s role in Europe. He accused David Cameron of using the EU Treaty to shadow box around the issue and said it was time the British public were “trusted to make the right decision” on Britain’s future in Europe.