Statement by Minister Cowen, at the 57th United Nations General Assembly, 13 September 2002 Part 2
The proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction - chemical, biological and nuclear - is, of course, an issue that goes far beyond Iraq. They represent a major threat to international peace and security. The international instruments and regimes to control the spread, and bring about the elimination, of such weapons must be strengthened and fully implemented. Ultimately, the long term control and elimination of Weapons of Mass Destruction can only be achieved through a comprehensive and rigorous system of international treaties and obligations that are verifiable and universal.
Ireland, together with our New Agenda partners, will continue its efforts in this regard during this year’s General Assembly. We call on all States who are concerned about these issues to become more constructively engaged in the period ahead.
All of us recognise that conflict prevention, not just conflict resolution, is the central challenge facing the United Nations. Poverty, inequality and injustice are all too often the breeding ground for instability and for threats to peace. They are an affront to the international conscience. We must tackle the injustices that all too often allow conflict situations to develop.
Our challenge is to show that there is a peaceful and legitimate way of dealing with these problems. It is only through the development of integrated strategies that address the underlying causes of conflict - poverty, injustice and the abuse of fundamental rights and freedoms - that the international community can bring about long term peace and stability.
The Millennium Summit Declaration confirmed the commitment of the world’s leadership to tackling the root causes of conflict. The Secretary-General has since called for the UN to move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention. Ireland fully supports the implementation of the Secretary-General’s Report on Conflict Prevention.
The UN must be equipped with the necessary tools to develop coherent conflict prevention policies. Let us commit ourselves to supporting the Secretary-General in his ongoing reform initiatives. We must revitalise the General Assembly so that it can play its proper role. Let us re-engage on reform of the Security Council so that it reflects modern geo-political realities. We need a Security Council which is as representative as possible of the international community, while being in a position to function efficiently. And we must provide the UN with sufficient resources to meet its responsibilities.
Sustainable development focussed on poverty eradication is the most powerful instrument which the international community has to address the long-term root causes of conflict and to promote peace.
Let us also remind ourselves of the international community’s long standing commitment to meeting the UN target of spending 0.7 % of GNP on Overseas Development Assistance. My Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, has confirmed at the Johannesburg Summit, Ireland’s commitment to meet this target by 2007.
Let us restate our commitment to providing universal access to basic healthcare. We must be relentless in the campaign to eliminate diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB. The spread of these diseases threatens to undermine our development programmes. We must step up our efforts to eradicate them. We must aim for the targets set out in the Declaration of Commitment against HIV/AIDS, adopted by the General Assembly in June 2001. We must ensure that the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB is adequately resourced.
The Johannesburg Summit agreed a global comprehensive action plan for sustainable development which will help guide our policies and programmes in the coming years. The Summit’s Commitment on Sustainable Development has the potential to make an important contribution to conflict prevention, particularly in Africa.
Effective conflict prevention is also about putting in place necessary structures. The Brahimi Report on UN Peace Operations acknowledged the pressing need to establish both long and short term conflict prevention strategies. I would like to reiterate Ireland’s support for the Secretary-General’s initiatives and for the role which UN Peacekeeping has to play in an integrated conflict prevention strategy.
Peacekeeping is at the heart of Ireland’s contribution to the United Nations. We are immensely proud of the contribution which Irish personnel have made to UN peacekeeping. We reserve a special place in our hearts for those have given their lives in the service of the United Nations. This was demonstrated once again in a moving ceremony which was held to mark the standing down of the Irish battalion from UNIFIL after 24 years of service.
As a member of the European Union, Ireland welcomes the deepening cooperation between the EU and the UN on conflict prevention and peacekeeping. This will be given further concrete expression when the EU takes over the UN police operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina next January.
Respect for human rights is a core dimension in conflict prevention. This is the very foundation on which peace and security surely depends. Human rights must be integrated into all of the UN’s activities. The entry into force of the Rome Statute establishing the International Court sends a clear signal of determination to bring to justice those who perpetrate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
I would urge those who have not ratified the Rome Statute to do so. The international community is at its strongest when it stands unified, bound together by the strength of the rule of law.
I would like to take the opportunity, presented by this address to the General Assembly, to pay tribute to Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, who has just completed her term as UN Commissioner for Human Rights. We are deeply proud of her achievements. We know that she will continue to be a fearless champion of the universality of human rights.
Turning to the situation in Northern Ireland, we have seen substantial progress across the key areas of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement since I last addressed this Assembly.
The political institutions of the Agreement are operating on a positive and inclusive basis, bringing tangible benefits across the board.
An Independent International Commission has overseen two acts of arms decommissioning by the IRA. The Patten Report’s vision of a new beginning for policing in Northern Ireland is being progressively realised. I call on all to fully play their part in bedding down and strengthening the new policing arrangements. Welcome progress has also been made in normalising security arrangements on the ground. However, more needs to be done, and we need to see further early progress, especially in the South Armagh area.
The considerable record of achievement, however, has not made us complacent about the difficulties and challenges that remain. The levels of street violence in the interface areas of Belfast, and the sectarian attacks on vulnerable households, for instance, have given us all cause for serious concern. These have had a corrosive effect on community confidence. They need to be addressed urgently in all their dimensions, including through effective policing measures leading to convictions.
The Irish and British Government remain absolutely committed to the Good Friday Agreement, and to its implementation in full. Its core principles – constitutional stability based on consent, partnership politics, inclusive political institutions and structured North-South cooperation on the island of Ireland - represent the only viable basis for a workable political accommodation. In short, the Agreement, which has been much praised and admired by member States of this Assembly, continues to be the only template for political progress in Northern Ireland.
Before concluding, I would like to refer briefly to Ireland’s membership of the Security Council which comes to an end on 31 December next. Ireland’s experience as a member of the Council has strongly reinforced our belief in the system of collective global security.
The central role of the Security Council in the aftermath of 11 September underlined the importance of its role as guardian of international peace and security. It must now build on this achievement.
Ireland has, I believe, made a substantive contribution to the work of the Council. We will seek to do so in the remaining months of our term.
Our mission in the United Nations is to continually strive for a world that is fair and just. This can best be done through our system of collective security; through international economic and social development; and through respect for human rights and international law. If we can commit ourselves to respect the decisions of the Security Council, and all our international obligations, then innocent lives can be saved and seemingly interminable conflicts resolved.
We have the methods and the means to peaceably resolve the dangers that threaten us. It should not be beyond our talent and resources to achieve this. But to do so, we need to assert the core values of multilateralism in particular, and its capacity to achieve, for all our people, a better and safer world.