Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Election Monitoring Missions
106. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the reason Ireland has scaled back by a third the number of observers it sent to the recent elections in Belarus compared to previous elections in 2015 and 2016; the names of the two observers sent; the basis on which they were selected; if his attention has been drawn to concerns that no open call issued to the official election roster for the mission; his plans to ensure future opportunities are advertised and filled on a transparent basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51163/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 124 together.
The EU and the OSCE-ODHIR regularly issue calls for the nomination of observers to participate in the election missions organised under their auspices. Member States of the EU and the OSCE respond to these calls according to their own practice and priorities and, where relevant, security considerations. It is not the case that every country sends observers to every mission. In the Irish case, each call is reviewed and responded to accordingly on a case-by-case basis, including with regard to the annual budget available for participation in election observation missions, the resources available to manage the process, the overall balance between EU and OSCE missions to which Ireland contributes, as well as other priorities.
The names of members of the volunteers on the election observation roster will be provided to the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence (JCFATD) once the Department has verified that the security vetting process is complete for all roster members.
On this occasion the call for expressions of interest for Belarus was not circulated to observers on the election observation roster As is regular practice across EU and OSCE Member States, it was decided to nominate two officials of the Department: the election observation Focal Point and the relevant desk officer. Officials do not receive the €600 pre-departure expense which is paid once in a twelve month period to roster members who participate in a mission.
Members of the roster are aware that the roster is voluntary; that the volunteers do not hold an entitlement to be selected for missions; and that the Department may decide not to circulate a particular mission for budgetary, resource or other reasons.