Irish Government funds for UN Development and Human Rights programmes
Minister of State Liz O'Donnell TD today announced that a total of £ 8.8 million will be provided in the current year to United Nations Development and Relief Agencies and Funds.
A range of UN agencies undertake development and relief operations. These agencies are the principal channel of the UN's development policy. Ireland, in common with other donor countries, contributes on a voluntary basis to a number of such agencies as an expression of the importance which the Government attaches to the work of the UN and UN agencies in the field of development cooperation.
Minister O'Donnell said today " each year the total expenditure of the UN - development, peace-keeping, humanitarian programmes - comes to less than two dollars for each person on the planet. This compares with almost 150 dollars per head spent on arms and armament development. The UN has the resources that the Governments of the world give it. It has the capacity for action that we allow it to have. It is a mirror of international determination to confront problems or to ignore them".
The Minister announced an initial series of voluntary contributions for 1999 totalling nearly £8.5 million, as set out in the attached list. These contributions cover the broad range of UN activities, including human rights, assistance to refugees, democracy building and electoral reform, health, humanitarian relief coordination, mine-clearing, environmental protection, education and training, trade and enterprise promotion, and international action against drug abuse.
The largest share of funds, as in previous years, goes to the three principal UN development and relief agencies, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Minister O'Donnell said that in reaching decisions on the increases to be made in the UN voluntary contributions, she has taken particular account of their respective progress in implementing the far-reaching process of reform which the the UN funds and programmes are undergoing in the interests of making them more efficient, effective and accountable.
The importance which Ireland attaches to the promotion and protection of human rights and our wish to be of assistance to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, in her leading role in this area has been reflected in significant increases in Ireland's level of funding to this area in the last two years. That pattern has been repeated this year with the provision of a significantly increased allocation of £400,000. The Minister noted that Ireland's commitment to the furtherance of human rights had been reflected in the recent appointment of our Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms Anne Anderson, to the position of Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
The Minister noted that among the new contributions being made this year is one to support the work of the Office of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. The proliferating civil conflicts of recent years, particularly in the developing world, have had a massive and disproportionate impact on non-combatants, and in particular women and children.
The UN and its development agencies pay a central role in tackling issues and priorities of critical importance to developing countries that no single donor can achieve. Ireland's range of voluntary contributions is intended to support the UN in its work of fighting international crises such as AIDS; promoting food security; assisting victims of human or natural disasters; promoting human rights; advancing gender equality; supporting peace building and conflict prevention.