Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D., to the 59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Part II
Whatever political difficulties may have arisen in Darfur, the people of Darfur did not deserve to suffer massacre, rape and famine, or to see their villages and crops destroyed and their livestock driven off. When the depredations of the ruthless militias were unleashed upon them, they looked in vain for the even-handed protection of their government.
I want to recognise the efforts of the UN agencies, and the non-governmental organisations, including Irish organisations such as GOAL, Concern and Trócaire, that responded so quickly and generously to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The dedication of humanitarian aid workers must also be applauded.
The humanitarian needs in Darfur still remain immense and I appeal for continued support from the international community to meet the funding shortfall. Ireland has contributed almost €6 million in government-funded aid so far this year to assist the humanitarian effort, through UN agencies as well as through Irish and international NGOs. The Irish people have been greatly moved by the suffering in Darfur and have been generous in providing additional, non-government financial support for the relief effort.
I also wish to pay tribute to the leadership of the Secretary-General in insisting on an appropriate response from the Security Council. I welcome the recent adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 1564, although it is a matter of regret and bewilderment to many that the Resolution did not receive the unanimous backing of Council members. I hope that the Council will now unite in seeking to assert its will and bring an end to a situation which is an affront to humanity.
I urge the authorities in the Sudan to fulfil with the utmost urgency the obligations that have been imposed on them by the Security Council. They must cooperate closely with the monitors deployed by the African Union; to ensure that the Janjaweed militia are brought under control and disarmed; that persons responsible for crimes and serious violations of human rights are brought to justice; and that secure conditions are restored so that people can return voluntarily to their homes. I also urge all parties in the Abuja talks, including the rebel groups, to show flexibility and goodwill so that the underlying problems of Darfur can be resolved in a peaceful manner.
Mr. President, Over the past year we have once again seen that failure of state institutions is a major source of conflict and human misery. The responsibility for protecting people from conflict and the effects of conflict, and from humanitarian catastrophe, lies primarily with the governments concerned. However, it has been well demonstrated that events within a particular country can threaten international peace and security, and spread misery far beyond its borders. Where governments are unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to prevent catastrophe in their own country, I believe that the international community has the responsibility to protect in those circumstances. It is increasingly evident that instability very frequently arises from situations where human rights are abused or denied. The abuse of human rights is also at the root of poverty and underdevelopment. Respect for human rights, on the other hand, is an essential element of good governance, and must be at the centre of efforts to prevent conflict, and of post-conflict reconstruction. Presently, 40% of conflicts which appear to have been resolved break out again within five years. We simply must do better in identifying emerging problems sooner. We also need to put in place policies and structures that are effective within a new, enforceable legal framework.I hope, therefore, that the High Level Panel will address the serious questions involved in international intervention, and put forward recommendations that will act as a basis for consensus. We trust that they will also give full and careful consideration to the policies and structures that we need in order to carry out our responsibilities towards states and societies at risk of instability. Any such structures must facilitate a sustained engagement with these states, to ensure that they receive whatever assistance is needed - political, humanitarian and economic - to avert instability or a return to conflict. In addressing these problems, on the basis of the report of the High Level Panel, let us not sacrifice substance on the altar of process. Ireland welcomes the increasing role of regional and sub-regional organisations in crisis management, under the overall authority of the Security Council. The European Union is engaged in developing its role in conflict prevention and crisis management, while fully recognizing the central role and authority of the United Nations. I am pleased to state that, during Ireland’s recent EU Presidency, important progress was achieved in implementing the Joint EU-UN Declaration on Cooperation in Crisis Management. It was agreed in June, during our Presidency, that the EU will make a rapid response capability available to the UN. This will take effect on an initial basis in 2005, with the full complement of 1,500 troops being ready and available by 2007. The efforts of the African Union and ECOWAS in crisis management have been particularly valuable and deserve support. The African Union’s involvement in Darfur, where it currently has 120 monitors with a protection force of 300, is an extremely positive development. It is fully supported by the European Union, including through the African Peace Facility established during Ireland’s recent EU Presidency. The African Union is planning to augment its contingent in Sudan, where it is estimated that a force of at least 5,000 may be necessary to assure a secure environment for the people of Darfur. The European Union is ready to increase its backing for the AU effort accordingly.Top