MPs to debate whether to declare ISIS crimes genocide

The European Parliament and the US House of Representatives both unanimously voted to declare ISIS' crimes genocide

Parliament will today debate whether to label ISIS' atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities as 'genocide'.

Christian Tory MP Fiona Bruce will bring forward the motion which, if passed, would put significant pressure on the government to change its position. The motion, signed by many MPs from different parties, asks the government to use its position on the UN Security Council to force international action.

Until now the government has refused to declare ISIS' activities a genocide and insisted it is a matter for the international legal system, not governments. However the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot act without instructions from the UN Security Council, of which the UK is a permanent member.

The campaign to force the government to change its position has lasted many months and includes MPs from all major parties as well as a number of peers in the House of Lords. The debate today in the House of Commons marks a significant moment as it will be the first time MPs have had the opportunity to debate it fully.

A source close to the campaign told Christian Today the motion had enough support from MPs of all parties to pass. Labour's shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn indicated his support and Christian Today understands a number of Conservative MPs plan to rebel against the government's stance.

It is understood the government will not instruct MPs which way to vote but will ask all ministers' aides to abstain. This would make it easier for the government to ignore the debate, a move the source described as "constitutionally dodgy".

The debate comes after the European Parliament voted unanimously to declare genocide and the White House followed soon after.

The term genocide carries significant moral and legal obligations as the UK is a signatory to the "convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide" (CPPCG). As such it is obliged to prevent and punish genocide whenever it is recognised.

Ahead of the debate on Tuesday Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, entered the debate and said a recognition of genocide would allow for the "protection of the sanctity and dignity of God-given human life".