Statement by Mr. David Andrews T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the 54th Session of the UN General Assembly
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., will give a wide-ranging address on Irish foreign policy to the UN General Assembly in New York this evening. The main points to be made by the Minister in his address to the 188 member Assembly will be as follows:
The pressures on the United Nations to maintain peace and security have never been greater. The failure of the UN to prevent humanitarian disasters, including genocide, haunts us all.
Ireland believes that we have not sufficiently used the UN Charter, not only in the area of peace and security, but also in the social and economic fields. Ireland believes that by using the provisions of the Charter imaginatively this could make possible a re-invigoration of the United Nations by injecting a new sense of purpose and dynamic.
The perpetrators of the crimes against humanity must be brought to justice. Ireland fully supports the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for an international commission of enquiry.
We are facing a humanitarian disaster in East and West Timor. Ireland will continue to support in whatever way we can the work of the UN and the humanitarian agencies for the people of East Timor.
Africa/Third World Debt
The failure of the UN to prevent humanitarian disasters is illustrated by the response to crises in many parts of Africa. The Secretary-General's report on Conflict Prevention in Africa charts a way forward and we must all ensure real progress is achieved on these issues.
Ireland wishes to see the strongest possible link between debt relief and poverty alleviation. Ireland decided last year to give particular priority to the debt issue, by directing resources to both bilateral and multilateral debt relief and by making debt relief a cornerstone of our overseas aid policy.
Human Rights/International Criminal Court
Last year was the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Despite this, barbaric violations of human rights have occurred in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor to mention but some of the horrors taking place.
In his report, "Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict", the UN Secretary-General pointed out the need for a global enforcement mechanism which addresses impunity and may serve as a deterrent to genocide and crimes against humanity. Ireland believes that the enforcement mechanism should be the International Criminal Court which we would like to see enter into force as soon as possible.
The limited steps taken to-date do not amount to a determined process of elimination. Intent on trying to find a new way forward, Ireland, along with Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden last year launched an initiative "Towards A Nuclear Weapons Free World - the Need for a New Agenda."
With the adoption of a resolution on the New Agenda in the General Assembly, the international community has demanded a clear perspective for the closure of the nuclear weapons era.
Traffic in Arms
The irresponsible traffic in arms is an obscenity. We must redouble our efforts to address both the supply and demand side of a threat to the security of civilians that has reached epidemic proportions.
Ireland currently contributes to eight peacekeeping operations with over 700 personnel in the field.
The Government is disappointed it has not yet proved possible to actually establish the political institutions envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement. We are convinced that there will be no return to our often bitter past. The Agreement should be implemented now and not left to another generation.