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Written Answers - International Agreements

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 40.  Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  if he is taking any initiatives at EU and UN level to advance an arms trade treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7284/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore My officials will be participating fully in the forthcoming meeting of the Preparatory Committee from 13-17 February and in the Diplomatic Conference from 2-27 July where I hope agreement can be reached on an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Our objective in these meetings will be to secure the most robust legally-binding and comprehensive treaty with universal application possible. Ireland strongly supports the process of developing strict controls on arms and works to promote the objective of strengthening arms controls globally. We have been active from a very early stage in supporting work towards an ATT, including through co-sponsorship in 2008 of a UN Resolution establishing an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) to consider the elements that might be included in an ATT. Ireland has participated fully in the EU Working Group on the ATT and we will continue to work with the EU and with other like-minded countries to agree an instrument establishing common international standards for the import, [120]export and transfer of conventional arms that takes full account of human rights obligations and international humanitarian law.

 41.  Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  the position regarding Ireland’s possible ratification of the Antarctic Treaty; if he has had discussions with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government or if his officials have had any discussions regarding this treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7345/12]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The matter of Ireland’s possible accession to the Antarctic Treaty is under continuing consideration in those Government Departments which have responsibility for the areas covered by the Antarctic Treaties. The previous Government tasked relevant Ministers with conducting preparatory work on Ireland’s possible accession to the Treaty. In this regard, a process of inter-departmental consultation, chaired by my Department and including the participation of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the other Departments concerned, is continuing.

As a complement to the inter-departmental preparatory work, a seminar on the Antarctic Treaty System was hosted by my Department in co-operation with the Norwegian Embassy in Dublin, on 25 May 2011. The seminar was attended by relevant Government Departments and also benefited from the participation of the Shackleton Society. The seminar was addressed by Norwegian experts in this area, who shared Norway’s experience as a founder member of the Antarctic Treaty System.

The preparatory work being undertaken includes an assessment of the legislative implications of accession to the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) and it is apparent that these may be significant. Depending on the scale of the legislative undertaking that would be required, the resulting costs could be substantial, in terms of draws on Departments’ resources in preparing the necessary legislation, as well as the cost of maintaining any standing national structures, such as licensing systems, consequent on accession to the ATS.

It is intended that further inter-departmental work will focus on identifying the optimum means, having regard to potential costs as well as best international practice, by which Ireland might ratify the Antarctic Treaty, should the Government so decide in due course.


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