Part 2 - Challenges to Liberal Internationalism
The most recent effort to address these concerns is the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, which is known as the Brahimi report. We very much welcome this report and will draw on our long experience in UN peacekeeping to inform our contributions to the discussion in the Security Council and the General Assembly on its implementation.
One of the Brahimi report's most important proposals is on the need to strengthen the UN's rapid reaction capability. On 13 November, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1327, giving its backing to many of the Brahimi report recommendations. I'd like to take a few moments to draw attention to a few aspects of this resolution. The resolution encourages the UN Secretary-General “to take all possible measures at his disposal to facilitate rapid deployment” of peacekeeping operations. The resolution recognises “that the problem of the commitment gap with regard to personnel and equipment for peacekeeping operations requires the assumption by all Member States of the shared responsibility to support peacekeeping operations.” The resolution goes on to emphasise “the importance of Member States taking the necessary and appropriate steps to ensure the capability of their peacekeepers to fulfil the mandates assigned to them” and it underlines “the importance of international cooperation in this regard.”
This is of particular relevance in the context of the EU Headline Goals. As you know, earlier this week I attended the European Union Capabilities Commitment Conference in Brussels. The purpose of the Conference was to provide an opportunity for the EU, and third countries, to indicate formally the capabilities which they can make available for any potential humanitarian or other crisis management operations.
It is no accident that our commitment to the Headline Goal is for up to 850 members of the Defence Forces from within the current United Nations Standby Arrangements System Commitment of 850. As far as Ireland is concerned the development of the EU's security and defence policy and in particular its capabilities to conduct Petersberg tasks, which is what the Headline Goal is about, is for operations that will be mandated by the Security Council and in accordance with the UN Charter. There are proposals under discussion at present between the UN and the EU to further develop and strengthen cooperation in respect of crisis management issues and for our part we will be giving these our full support. The European Union is a zone of peace, prosperity and stability. It can and should do more to assist the UN to respond to humanitarian crisis and other threats to international peace and security as they arise, and the Headline Goal will be a very important enhancement of the EU's and the international communities capabilities in this regard.
Just as the UN Stand By Arrangements System, UNSAS, does not create a UN army, neither does the EU Headline Goal create an EU army. Both systems work on the basis of States indicating in principle what resources they are willing to make available for conflict prevention, peacekeeping, crisis management and humanitarian operations. Under both systems it remains the sovereign decision of each State on a case by case basis if and when to deploy its forces. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply misleading.
Another issue which demonstrates that Ireland has the necessary political will, and is willing to back it up with concrete and ongoing action in pursuit of important international goals, is in the key area of disarmament. We realised for some time that the Nuclear Non-proliferation regime, which the late Mr. Frank Aitken had been instrumental in initiating and on which Ireland had a long record of guardianship, was in danger of disintegrating unless there was a renewed commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons on the part of the nuclear weapons states. That was why my predecessor David Andrews T.D. launched the New Agenda initiative with Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden in 1998. Despite strong
objections and pressure from the nuclear weapons states, Ireland and our New Agenda allies persisted.
In May of this year at the NPT review conference in New York, the New Agenda initiative provided the basis for a revitalisation of the NPT and an impetus for a new era of serious nuclear disarmament negotiations. In the General Assembly session just concluding in New York Ireland's resolution on the New Agenda was supported by 146 countries, including the US, Britain and China in favour, for the first time. The New Agenda demonstrates the importance of member States having the courage of their convictions and taking a sustained and committed approach to issues of concern to the international community as a whole. Disarmament remains a key issue for the international community not just because of the continued threat that weapons of mass destruction and armaments pose, but also because for many countries sustainable development will remain beyond reach if scarce resources continue to be used to purchase arms or maintain weapons programmes.
For many, globalisation is seen as the greatest challenge to liberal internationalism today. This is rather ironic. Globalisation, the spread of free trade and the emergence of what is truly a global economy, should have been the final proof of liberal internationalist theory - a world of nation states committed to democracy and the rule of law who are economically interdependent would, the theory goes, achieve permanent peace and stability. And yet the consensus Millennium Declaration adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the United Nations in New York in October of this year states:
“We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world's people. For while globalisation offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed.”( U.N Millennium Declaration I, paragraph 5)
The Declaration goes on, under the heading of “Development and poverty eradication” to commit the member States to :
“good governance at the international level and (to) transparency in the financial, monetary and trading systems. We are committed to an open, equitable, rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading and financial system.” (United Nations Millennium Declaration Section III, paragraph 13.)
Ireland's commitment to peace and development is another core element of our committed and principled foreign policy. Peace and development are essential to each other. Without peace there can be no development. Without development, peace is hard to sustain. The elimination of poverty and access to basic healthcare and education are crucial to sustainable development. In this era of globalisation, we witness today an unprecedented disparity between the prosperity of the developed countries and the poverty of those left behind. And at this very time of increasing divergence we are seeing a decline in global levels of development aid.
Again Ireland is demonstrating political will backed up with concrete action. One of the things I will always be proud of is that it was the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern T.D. who made the solemn commitment at the UN Millennium Summit to meet the UN development cooperation target of 0.7% of GNP by the end of 2007, and to reach the level of 0.45% by the end of 2002. We anticipate that this will result in a four fold increase in our development aid over the next seven years. This will greatly increase our ability to make a real impact on the lives of some of the poorest people on earth. The eradication of poverty and equitable access to the benefits of technology and globalisation are achievable goals in the 21st century. The Millennium Summit Declaration sets out ambitious targets for development and poverty eradication, and we will do our utmost to ensure that the international community does its best to meet them.
In conclusion, it is my contention that the greatest challenge to liberal internationalism is not from the so-called foreign policy realists, who, as I suggested at the start would dismiss an activist, principled, foreign policy such as ours as a form of international social work. No, the challenge to liberal internationalism is from within. We have to continually strive to demonstrate that multilateralism works, that it achieves results, and that if we really want to speak of “the international community” there is really no acceptable alternative in a civilised world.
Let me conclude by thanking you for the opportunity to open this years' conference and wish you well in your deliberations today.