O'DONNELL FUNDS HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECTS IN THIRD WORLD
Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights, announced today a new package of Irish Government grants. The grants, totalling almost £300,000, will go to human rights and democratisation projects in developing countries.
"For some years now, we have supported human rights and democratisation activities in Central America" the Minister recalled. "These latest grants extend beyond that region to Peru and Colombia, where we will maintain support for a project aiming to rebuild rural communities in the Andean highlands devastated during Peru's civil war. We will also, for the first time, support a project in Colombia, the Programa por la Paz (Programme for Peace), which is building a nationwide network of human rights organisations".
"We are also expanding our assistance to human rights and democratisation projects in the Middle East" the Minister continued. "We are supporting a project aimed at developing women's leadership in Palestinian society. In Egypt,we are funding a civic education programme designed to raise political participation and democratic awareness. This is an important issue in Egypt, where voter participation in elections is low and National Assembly elections are due in late 2000".
In a new departure, in geographical terms, human rights and democratisation projects in Central Asia are to receive aid, channelled through resident OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) missions. The OSCE has recently set up missions in the five Central Asian States of the former Soviet Union (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrghyzstan). This grant will help these missions to promote respect for human rights and to assist the development of legal and democratic political institutions and processes, through the strengthening of the indigenous NGO sector and of relevant governmental and non-governmental institutions.
This year, 1999, £1.25m will be spent on human rights and democratisation projects by the Irish Government in various countries, as part of a human rights focus in our foreign policy.