O'Donnell calls on EU to ensure universal respect for human rights
Liz O'Donnell T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with special responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights, was speaking to the Royal Irish Academy this morning on the theme “Human Rights in the 21st Century”. The Minister said that she would continue to press for attention to be directed towards the least developed countries and for a greater focus to be placed on poverty eradication in EU development programmes.
"The 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provided an opportunity for the international community to assess implementation of the principles of the Declaration” said the Minister. She said that human rights issues were now to the forefront of EU Treaty law and added that the concrete measures set out recently by the European Council marked the first step along the path of giving fuller expression to this ethos. "The EU exercises tremendous economic power on the world stage and must show itself equal to the political and moral responsibility of ensuring universal respect for human rights" said the Minister.
"Good governance at home and abroad is essential to human rights protection policy", the Minister said. She added that Irish Aid supports activities which aim at the empowerment of people and communities, the promotion of participation in decision-making in civic and political life and the instillation of a human rights culture.
Turning to the Good Friday Agreement and the establishment of Human Rights Commissions North and South, the Minister said that "any sustainable peace process must be built upon a genuine commitment to justice and equality for all”.
She said the Government had recently approved a draft Bill to give the Human Rights Commission in Ireland wide-ranging powers which would set standards for international best practice in the field. "I anticipate that the establishment of a powerful Human Rights Commission will transform the "rights" landscape in Ireland" said Minister O'Donnell.