Address by Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, introducing Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, in the Forum on Europe 14th October 2004 Part I
Chairman, Secretary General, members of the Forum, distinguished guests.
It is a particular honour and pleasure to have this opportunity to introduce the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The peoples of the United Nations are exceptionally well served by a strong, wise and well-respected Secretary General in Kofi Annan.
It is a tribute to our distinguished guest that his name has today become synonymous with the central role the United Nations plays in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Nobody is more aware than the Secretary General of the challenges which today face the United Nations.
Indeed, Kofi Annan has led from the front in urging the members of the Organisation to confront these challenges.
At last year’s General Assembly, and again this year, the Secretary General emphasised that the UN is at a fork in the road, and that it must reform if it is to live up to the ambitions of the founding fathers and the expectations of the people it serves.
In other words, the United Nations simply has to be relevant and responsive to today’s challenges, wherever they may arise.
The Secretary-General knows, and I repeat it here today, that he has Ireland’s full support in his efforts at reform.
Ireland wants a more relevant and effective UN, which can speak out and act for the vulnerable of the world.
As part of Ireland’s role in the creation of a more effective UN, I want to stress today that Ireland will meet the UN’s 0.7% GNP overseas development aid target.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The UN is – and will remain - the cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy.
This fact is most positively reflected in the service and sacrifice which our Defence Forces have given to the Organisation.
The UN is vital to our national security.
Ireland, as a neutral State, does not take part in military alliances.
And, Ireland, like most small nations, sees the United Nations, as the ultimate guarantor of our freedom and our safety.
We in Ireland do not believe that the challenges facing the international community can be satisfactorily resolved through unilateral action by any one country, or group of countries, no matter how large their resources or how resolute their determination to go it alone.
You, Secretary General, summed this stance up very aptly and astutely a few years ago when you said - ‘…Challenges to peace and security today are predominantly global… They require complex and collective responses, which are possible only if the web of multilateral institutions is adequately developed and properly used’.
I look forward to the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General’s High Level panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
In particular I look forward to the recommendations which the Secretary-General himself intends to bring forward in the light of this report.
Let us all hope that when Heads of State and Government gather in New York next year – the 60th anniversary of the UN’s founding - they will demonstrate the vision and, more particularly, the will to take the decisions necessary to ensure that the UN can operate to its full potential in pursuit of the purposes and principles set out in the Charter.
As a member of the European Union, Ireland is determined to ensure that the Union plays an active role in support of the United Nations.Top