Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Deployment
28. To ask the Minister for Defence his views on whether the triple lock has served the State well; his views on the fact that Ireland’s contribution to international peacekeeping is not constrained in any significant way by it; his further views that a UN mandate is vital if a peacekeeping mission is to be effective in achieving its goals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46840/13]
The statutory authority for the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service overseas as part of an International Force, is set out in Section 2 of the Defence (Amendment)(No. 2) Act, 1960 as amended by the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006. is provision is commonly referred to as the "triple lock". However, personnel may be deployed for training, for humanitarian operations and for other such reasons under the authority of the Government in accordance with the provisions of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006, which formalised arrangements in this regard.
The White Paper on Defence, which was published in 2000, has provided the policy framework for Defence for the past thirteen years. In the period since its publication there have been significant changes in the defence and security environment and the defence policy framework has continued to evolve. In this context, the Government decided that there is a requirement to prepare a new White Paper on Defence. is will provide the policy framework for Defence for the next decade.
A Green Paper on Defence, which was published in July of this year, initiated a broad public consultative process, which provided for members of the public and interest groups to input their views as part of the process of developing the new White Paper on Defence. In this context the Green Paper engendered discussion on all relevant matters including the "triple lock".
The requirement for a UN resolution as part of the "triple lock" reflects the central importance of the UN in granting legitimacy to peace support and crisis management missions. At the same time, it also constitutes a self imposed, legal constraint on the State's sovereignty in making decisions about the use of its armed forces. This could prevent the State from participating in a peace support operation. In 2003, the EU led peace support mission EUFOR Concordia in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, was welcomed in UN resolution 1371 in terms that did not conform to the requirements of the Defence Acts at that time. Accordingly, Ireland could not participate in the mission.
The benefits of a formal legislative requirement for UN authorisation must be weighed against the possibility that this constraint may lead to an inability to act on occasions where there is a pressing moral or security imperative and overwhelming international support to do so, but where UN sanction is not forthcoming, in circumstances where a veto is exercised by a permanent member of the Security Council acting in its own national interests.
It is acknowledged that there is substantial public support for the triple lock mechanism and that, in practical terms, due to the size of our Defence Forces, the State only has a limited capacity to contribute to UN Missions. In real terms Ireland has, in the context of its size, punched above its weight and made a valuable, disproportionate contribution and, save for the example of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has not been excluded from peace keeping engagements by the triple lock. On balance, the advantages of retaining the mechanism can be seen as outweighing the disadvantages. Having said that, it is an issue worthy of discussion in advance of the adoption of a new White Paper.