Government allocates £1.25 million to assist human rights projects worldwide
"The best way to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is to complete unfinished business and work towards achieving the highest human aspirations and ideals of the Declaration". Ms. O'Donnell was speaking to a group of human rights activists, NGO representatives, diplomats and academics in Iveagh House this evening. "We still witness acts of genocide, war, repression, torture and rape. We still witness massive poverty, hunger and underdevelopment".
"Poverty is a brutal denial of human rights. Through our development co-operation, we value the dignity of each human being." As Minister of State with responsibility for Human Rights, Ms. O'Donnell said her job is to ensure that awareness of human rights permeates Irish foreign policy. She said that our efforts in development aid show how we vindicate human rights globally.
"Ireland has marked this anniversary year by allocating £ 1.25 million in assistance for projects to promote human rights and good governance worldwide. Today, I have approved £ 226, 000 to support six human rights and democratisation projects worldwide". The Minister said that this latest set of grants will assist projects in East Timor, the Palestinian Authority, El Salvador, Guatemala and Kenya.
"Human rights protection is central to the solution of the conflict in northern Ireland". The Minister said that the Government hopes to be in a position shortly to publish draft legislation on the establishment of the new Human Rights Commission as envisaged under the Belfast Agreement. The powers invested in the Commission will take on board most of the Paris Principles, the guidelines for the establishment of national institutions drawn up by the United Nations. "The Human Rights Commission, together with our new anti-discrimination legislation, will shore up the system of protection of human rights into the next century".
Minister O'Donnell will also speak tomorrow morning on the issue of human rights. She will make the opening address at a Seminar entitled "Europe - A force for Good: the Role of Human Rights in the Construction of Europe". The Seminar, which is organised by the Institute of European Affairs, will start at 08h45 in Europe House, North Great Georges Street.