The constitution of Ireland affirms Ireland’s strong commitment to
the ideal of peace and friendly cooperation amongst nations founded
on international justice and morality. Ireland’s foreign policy is
based on this conviction.
As a small country in a changing world, Ireland remains firmly
committed to collective approaches to international relations and
security based on the primacy of the charter of the United nations.
Key principles underlying this commitment are respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.
Ireland seeks to pursue these core objectives in cooperation with
regional and bilateral partners and through its membership of
international organisations, in particular its membership of the
United nations and of the European Union.
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Ireland joined the United nations (Un) on 14 December 1955. Within
the UN, Ireland has sought to promote effective international
action on global issues such as disarmament, peace-keeping, human
rights and development. Ireland’s most recent term on the UN
Security Council in 2001–2002 reinforced its commitment to working
with the wider UN membership for international peace and security.
This commitment is reflected in the continuous participation in UN
peace keeping operations by Irish Defence and Police Forces since
1958. Our commitment to the UN is also reflected in the substantial
contributions Ireland is making to UN Funds and Programmes. Ireland
is also a strong supporter of the International Criminal Court,
established by the international community through the adoption of
the Rome Statute in 1998.
European Union Membership
Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) on 1 January
1973 and has participated actively in the evolution of what is now
the European Union (EU). EU membership is pivotal to
Government policy. It is a central framework within which the
Government pursues its foreign policy objectives. Ireland’s
membership of the European Union is rooted in an understanding that
the Union is the cornerstone of political and economic stability in
europe. Ireland has held the six-month rotating Presidency of the
council of the European Union on six occasions, in 1975, 1979,
1984, 1990, 1996 and 2004. The 2004 presidency was widely praised
internationally and saw the accession of ten new Member states to
the European Union: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,
Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
On 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania became the latest states to
accede to the EU, increasing the total number of Member states to
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Irish Aid is the Government of Ireland’s official programme of
assistance to developing countries. The Irish Aid programme is
administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Ireland has had
an official development assistance programme since 1974. It has
grown steadily over the years from modest beginnings and is now
approximately €670 million per year. The Government is committed to
reaching the United Nations target of spending 0.7% of GNP on
Official Development Assistance (ODA).
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The Irish Abroad
More than one million Irish citizens are currently living abroad,
and it is estimated that as many as 70 million people worldwide can
claim Irish descent. Our largest emigrant communities have
consistently lived in Britain and the United States. Irish citizens
have also been an influential presence in Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, Argentina, and Southern Africa.
The high priority and value that the Government attaches to the
diaspora is reflected in the substantial funding it provides to
support Irish community, cultural and heritage projects across the
world. Supporting a wider range of initiatives across a greater
geographic range than ever before, the Government actively
recognizes the tremendous contributions the Irish abroad continue
to make, both to Ireland and to their adopted countries.
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