Review of Foreign Policy will help Ireland meet new challenges13 November 2013
Addressing the NGO Forum on Human Rights, organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Tánaiste said the Review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy, which he announced last month, would support Ireland to meet new challenges, while retaining our existing role as a human rights leader.
“Our foreign policy is a statement of who we are as a people. Through it, we pursue economic prosperity and promote peace and security in Ireland and the wider world. I am committed to ensuring that we gain maximum benefit from the resources we commit to our international engagement in a rapidly-changing world. This review, which will look at our foreign policy goals and how we achieve them, will help us do just that.
“The international system is changing rapidly, which requires us to be flexible and adaptable if we are to successfully promote our values and interests abroad. Our embassies around the world are working hard to realise our goals; supporting Irish business, encouraging investment and tourism, providing services to our citizens, and standing up for our interests and our values. Human rights have been a central concern of our foreign policy since independence and will remain at the heart of our foreign policy after the review.”
The Tánaiste said that he would launch a public consultation process shortly as part of the Review of Foreign Policy and invited forum participants to contribute.
The NGO Forum on Human Rights brought together 250 participants from NGOs, the UN, the OSCE, academics, and government officials for discussions on human rights and foreign policy.
In his keynote address, the Tánaiste also referred to Ireland’s recent election to the UN Human Rights Council, saying:
“This is a major endorsement of Ireland’s international standing and we will use our position to play an active role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. More widely, it reflects the esteem in which Ireland is held as a UN member and as a champion of the values which underpin the UN. In terms of achievements so far, we led a resolution on preventable mortality of children under five, and one on creating and maintaining civil society space which is under threat in many countries.”
Highlighting the positive effect human rights have played in the Northern Ireland peace process, the Tánaiste said:
“Ireland has also invested enormous political and diplomatic energy into the resolution of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The political settlement and positive prospects for the future have been constructed around immutable human rights principles. These include equality, non-discrimination and parity of esteem. The emerging result has been in everyone’s interests. I believe that as these human rights guarantees become part of lived experience in Northern Ireland, and as the stultifying effects of fear recede further into the background, the full economic, social, political and cultural potential of Northern Ireland and of the island as a whole can be realised. What could be more in our interests than that?