Remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Seminar on Modern Challenges in Peace Operations
An Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha
Department of Foreign Affairs
Preas Oifig, Teach Uibh Eachach, Faiche Stiabhna, Baile Átha Cliath 2
Press Office, Iveagh House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.
Tel: 353 -1- 478 0822 Fax: 353 -1- 478 5942 / 475 7476
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Seminar on Modern Challenges in Peace Operations
Davenport Hotel, Wednesday 12 May 2010
Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D.
President Ahtisaari, distinguished guests,
I am delighted to be able to join you today at this important seminar exploring Modern Challenges in Peace Operations. I would like to thank everyone present, and particularly those from abroad, for making the effort to travel to Dublin. My Department and I appreciate it.
My colleague, the Minister for Defence, Mr Tony Killeen T.D., has already addressed the subject in some detail this morning so I’ll be brief.
This joint seminar is a further example of the close cooperation that exists between Ireland and Finland in all matters peace-related.
Although the particularities of geography and history have led us to adopt different approaches to national defence, we share a common approach to crisis management and peace operations abroad.
We in Ireland have always had a deep commitment to international military peace operations. A number of factors have helped to shape this commitment, including our traditional policy of military neutrality and the values this encompasses, along with the benefits flowing to us in many parts of the world from the fact that we were never a colonial power.
With this background, we have been able to engage to great effect as peace-keepers and peace-builders, and to bring a unique perspective and vision to the promotion of peace and development through the United Nations, the European Union and bilaterally.
In recent years the international community is facing conflict and crises in fragile states that are of increasing complexity and that demand, in response, an increasingly sophisticated multidimensional approach.
Our responsibility can no longer be seen as ending with the positioning of troops along a ceasefire line. Rather we need to develop a more ambitious and multi-faceted approach.
We must bring all available instruments to bear in addressing the root causes of the conflict and, where necessary, developing the rule of law and building effective institutions. What is required, in short, is to develop a comprehensive and sustainable approach to peace, security and development, a topic that I understand is the subject of discussion by this panel of speakers this afternoon.
The UN Secretary General Ban, during his visit to Dublin last July, spoke of how “UN peacekeeping mandates are more complex and multidimensional than ever before… integrating military, police and civilian components”. One of the many questions to be answered as we develop this comprehensive approach is how to balance more robust peace enforcement operations with the developmental activities critical to any successful long-term resolution to crises.
Over the past 50 years the women and men of the Irish Defence Forces have served more than 60,000 tours of duty. More recently, in line with the comprehensive approach to crisis management which I have just mentioned, almost 1,000 members of An Garda Síochána - serving in 26 different locations – have offered their expertise on ambitious UN and EU peace missions.
More recently still, my Department has also started contracting small numbers of Irish peace experts for human rights and rule of law work on EU civilian missions in places as far apart as Afghanistan, Palestine, Georgia and the Balkans.
The Irish people are justly proud of this peace-keeping and peace-building tradition, and it will continue to be at the heart of our approach to international relations.
The comprehensive approach to complex crises has been led by the United Nations, an organisation which continues to be the indispensable framework for cooperation amongst the international community and for addressing the great challenges of the day. Today, the changed international context that followed the end of the Cold War has enabled regional organisations such as the European Union to engage more actively in crisis management. Such action is supportive of, and complementary to, the activities of the United Nations.
As Secretary General Ban pointed out during that same visit, “when the UN and regional organisations work together, [they] can achieve much more than [they] might independently. There is real strength in burden-sharing”.
Ireland’s participation in over 50 years of peace operations reflects this changing landscape. While initially we participated solely with the UN, more recently we have also had troops serve with UN-mandated missions led by the European Union or NATO. Whichever missions they support in future, Irish troops, police and civilian experts will continue to demonstrate the strong commitment to the promotion of human development, security and human rights for which our country is known.
I am sure your discussions will be both interesting and fruitful, and I wish you every success for this seminar.