Thursday, 23 June 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
329. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the most prominent locations worldwide to which international aid continues to be made available by Ireland and other countries in an effort to combat levels of human rights abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33545/22]
The United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations’ core Human Rights Treaties set the framework for Ireland’s foreign policy and our international aid programme. A Better World, Ireland's international development policy, focuses Irish Aid’s work on the advancement of universal access to human rights; including the right to adequate standards of living, the right to healthcare, education, freedom from hunger, and civil and political freedoms.
Irish Aid helps to combat human rights abuses, and assist vulnerable communities to realise their rights by: Providing access to education, health services, housing and better governance; strengthening developing country institutions, government systems, parliaments, national human rights institutions, and independent media; addressing gender based violence; supporting civil society partners and promoting civil society space; and supporting the protection of human rights defenders.
Among the geographic areas of focus for our aid programme this year have been Ukraine, the Horn of Africa, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, as well as countries in the Sahel; all of which are characterised by serious violations of human rights. The 2022 allocation of Official Development Assistance is the highest ever, at €1 billion – a 20% increase on last year. This allows Ireland to maintain its longstanding focus on promoting the rights of people furthest behind, such as those affected by food insecurity and conflict. This year, given the pressure on global food systems resulting from the war in Ukraine, at least €193 million in Irish Aid funding will go to improving food security and fulfilling the right to freedom from hunger.
Ireland's ODA is delivered through multilateral organisations such as the UN, funding to Irish civil society organisations, as well as bilateral ODA spent through Irish Embassies abroad. Our funding is complemented by Ireland's political and diplomatic engagement, including on the UN Security Council, and Human Rights Council. Human rights promotion is at the centre of our international diplomacy efforts at the UN, EU and other bodies; and our principled approach in all fora ensures coherence between Ireland's advocacy and the careful investment of the ODA budget.
330. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which Ireland continues to use its place on the United Nations Security Council to highlight atrocities taking place worldwide with a view to bringing the perpetrators and aggressors to justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33546/22]
Ireland is now in the second year of our term as an elected member of the UN Security Council. We have been actively engaged across the Council’s wide agenda since taking up our seat last year, and we are playing a constructive role in helping the Council fulfil its key role in the maintenance of international peace and security.
We have brought our principled and independent perspective to a range of key issues, in line with the core principles for our Council term – Building Peace, Strengthening Conflict Prevention and Ensuring Accountability. We will continue to use our term on the Council to highlight injustices, and to call out violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses.
This includes our work on the broad range of country situations on the Security Council’s agenda, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and the Middle East, and on thematic issues, such as climate and security; women, peace and security; and the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
Ireland is also active on the Security Council’s subsidiary bodies, including the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, which we are co-chairing, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
One example of this work has been Ireland’s efforts at the United Nations to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine and also to ensure accountability. I personally briefed the Security Council on 19 April on my visit to Ukraine. What I witnessed there was truly shocking.
On 2 March 2022, Ireland joined a group of concerned States Parties to the Rome Statute in referring the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. The ICC investigation will prove important in ensuring accountability for any international crimes committed in Ukraine. Ireland continues to be a consistent and strong supporter of the International Criminal Court. On14 April, I announced that Ireland will make a voluntary contribution of €3 million to the ICC, with €1 million to be distributed immediately to the Office of the Prosecutor. This contribution will be used to benefit the ICC’s work across all situation countries.
With ensuring accountability one of the key principles underpinning our engagement on the United Nations Security Council, we will continue to support and defend the International Criminal Court throughout our term on the Council, and to seek accountability as a key foreign policy priority in all relevant international fora.
331. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the appropriate bodies which may make a retrospective decision against countries causing aggression, death and destruction on a regular basis; if the United Nations Security Council is addressing these issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33547/22]
Ireland’s strong and enduring commitment to effective multilateralism, particularly through our membership of the European Union and the United Nations, is central to our response to international acts of aggression and the complex drivers of conflict around the globe.
There are a number of international bodies which seek to hold States to account for their actions.
We have been actively using our current role as an elected member of the UN Security Council in this context. Our approach at the Security Council is underpinned by three core principles: Building Peace, Strengthening Conflict Prevention, and Ensuring Accountability. In line with these, our priorities include: highlighting potential drivers of conflict, such as climate and food insecurity; improving peacekeeping mandates; and promoting respect for international law and accountability. We continue to support efforts at the UN Security Council to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
The Human Rights Council has a primary role within the United Nations system to promote and protect human rights globally and to address situations of human rights violations. In March this year, Ireland co-sponsored a Human Rights Council resolution establishing an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and related crimes in the context of Russia’s invasion, and supported the UN General Assembly’s decision to suspend Russia’s membership rights from the Human Rights Council on 7 April.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) promotes and upholds accountability and the rule of law by providing a means to bring to account the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. Ireland, together with its EU partners, has been a consistent and strong supporter of the ICC and will continue to support its important work. As part of our support for the Court, on 14 April I announced that Ireland will make a voluntary contribution of €3 million to the ICC, €1 million of which has already been distributed to the Office of the Prosecutor. This contribution will be used to benefit the ICC’s work across all situation countries.
332. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which at international level, he continues to highlight the degree to which child soldiers, if any, continue to be used in combat; their respective locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33548/22]
I thank the Deputy for his question and am pleased to refer him to my previous response to a closely related parliamentary question no 4181/22
(www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022-01-27/231/?highlight%5B0%5D=conflict) dated the 27th of January 2022 which included information from the most recent annual report by the UN Secretary General.
We look forward to shortly receiving the next annual report from the UN Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), which will provide an updated analysis of both trends and specific country situations, listing all armed groups that recruit and use children.
The UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict also presented her most recent report at the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, painting a disturbing picture of the plight of children in conflict situations around the world. As Ireland noted in our National Statement at the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council, the killing and maiming of children; the recruitment and use of children; and the denial of humanitarian access, are appalling violations and have no place in our society.