A Birmingham MP has been elected to lead an all-party parliamentary group that aims to prevent genocide.

The former International Development Secretary Clare Short MP (Lab Ladywood) has been voted chairwoman of the group, which she launched with John Bercow MP (Con) and Lord Anthony Lester QC (Lib Dem) in Westminster.

The launch was attended by survivors of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries.

A parliamentary statement circulated by Ms Short (right) supporting the aims of the genocide prevention campaign was backed by more than 100 MPs and peers, and more than 120 MPs are expected to join the all-party group as inaugural members.

She said: "Everyone is of course against genocide, but when it came to Rwanda the UK failed in its duties in the Security Council and the response in Darfur has been inadequate. I hope the group will help to ensure more effective UK action."

The purpose of the group is to ensure that the UK does all it can to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity, strengthen parliamentary scrutiny of government regarding its action on such crimes and increase the flow of independent information to MPs about issues of genocide.

The group will work with the Midland-based genocide prevention agency, the Aegis Trust. Aegis is responsible for the UK Holocaust Centre, the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda and the Protect Darfur campaign.

Dr James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, said: "Now parliamentarians are really taking this issue seriously."