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Written Answers. - UN Security Council.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 78. Mr. Sargent Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  the Government's contributions to the UN Security Council during the current tenure on the council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10228/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen Ireland's election to the Security Council for the 2001-2 term, with the support of a very large majority of UN member states, represented a major vote of confidence in our foreign policy. Our approach to issues on the council agenda has been based on our traditional commitment to peacekeeping, disarmament, human rights and development co-operation. We have sought to ensure that the human rights of individuals and the humanitarian needs of populations remain central to discussions at the Security Council and have stressed at all times the need to address the [808] root causes of conflict and to respect the principles of international law.

I am satisfied this constructive, practical approach has borne fruit and that we have impacted significantly on the council's activities across a wide range of difficult conflict situations. Our contribution to conflict resolution, peacekeeping, peace building, the promotion of human rights and addressing the humanitarian needs of populations in crisis has been of the highest order.

On the Middle East we have been active in efforts to identify potential middle ground on an issue on which the council is divided. I believe our approach contributed to the recent adoption of the landmark resolution 1397. As chair of the UN sanctions committee on Angola we have made considerable progress in tightening the economic pressure on UNITA with the aim of bringing an end to the military action which has caused so much suffering to the people of Angola.

On East Timor we have been instrumental in ensuring a strong UN presence to assist the East Timorese people in the development of their fledgling state following independence next May. Against the backdrop of our long-standing experience in UN peacekeeping, Ireland has been particularly active in discussions on the important issue of strengthening co-operation between the Security Council and the countries which contribute troops to UN missions.

Membership of the council has also afforded us the opportunity to work to improve UN sanctions regimes. There is no doubt that specifically targeted sanctions play an important role where flagrant breaches of international law occur or there is a threat to international peace. There is a strong balancing objective to ensure that the civilian population of the country against whose government the sanctions are imposed does not suffer.

Our Presidency of the council in October 2001 was highly successful. I visited New York twice during the month and chaired sessions of the council, as well as meeting with the UN Secretary General key UN officials and other members of the council. While the events of 11 September overshadowed our Presidency, we reacted rapidly and effectively to the challenge and as Presidency advanced the role of the UN in the international fight against terrorism and work to reconstruct Afghanistan. From the first days of our Security Council term Ireland was instrumental in focusing the attention of the Council on the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and in October we initiated weekly briefings on the situation there. Subsequent Presidencies have continued our practice.

Ireland has made a very positive and substantive contribution to the work of the Security Council. We have brought a fresh perspective and an objective approach to its work which I know is welcome to and respected by other member states. We have played an important role on the council and we will continue to use our position [809] to promote Ireland's values and objectives in the pursuit of international peace and security and human rights for all.

Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 32.

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