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Minister Flanagan delivers keynote address at RIA conference on International Affairs

International Relations, Ireland, Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Ireland, 2016


Minister Flanagan delivers keynote address on Ireland’s Identity and Values in Foreign Policy at RIA conference on International Affairs

“For us in Ireland, our identity and our values are integral to how we engage with the world”

Irish Peacekeeping missions; humanitarian; development aid; disarmament; & human rights are key pillars

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, will today (Monday) deliver the opening keynote address at a Royal Irish Academy conference on International Affairs which examines the themes of identity and values in foreign policy.

Minister Flanagan said:

“For us in Ireland, our identity and our values are integral to how we engage with the world. They represent a common thread which runs through our foreign policy from the foundation of the State. 

“For the Irish people, inheritors of a proud but often troubled history, it was natural that these values should find expression in the foreign policy of our young small state, allied to an advocacy of peace and justice founded on a rules based international order. These core principles lay at the heart of Ireland’s commitment to the League of Nations and later the United Nations, and our support for human rights, disarmament, peacekeeping and development.   I believe that those same principles remain as central to Irish foreign policy today, as at any time since the foundation of the state.”

The Minister described the current international foreign policy environment as “a world in flux”.  He noted the some of the challenges of recent years including the international economic collapse, new transnational security challenges, a new crisis in Ukraine, the hopes raised and dashed in the Arab Spring, and “the gravest refugee and migration crisis to face Europe since 1945, which has helped to drive the number of people displaced worldwide to an all-time high, and has presented an unprecedented challenge to the capacity and cohesion of the European Union.”

The Minister also emphasised that “today, nothing is entirely foreign or wholly domestic. The issue of a potential Brexit, for example, encompasses a range of domestic and foreign policy concerns. Our foreign policy is therefore more important to the Irish people now than at any time in our history.”

“Today, the task we face is to adapt an Irish foreign policy based on enduring values of support for human rights, disarmament, peace-keeping and development, to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.”

Last year the Government had launched a new statement of foreign policy, the first such statement in almost two decades:  “The Global Island”.  The Minister said this new framework “offers a progressive and forward looking vision of our foreign policy and our place in the world, and calls us to realise this vision through both our bilateral diplomacy, and our active engagement as members of the European Union, the United Nations and other multilateral organisations.

“With a focus on our people, it rededicates us to the work of pursuing peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland. It underlines our commitment to support Irish citizens travelling, working and living abroad. And it prioritises further development of our engagement with our global diaspora, and the promotion of Irish culture abroad.

“Building on our enhanced emphasis on economic diplomacy during the years of economic crisis, the statement directly connects the national and global efforts in support of recovery, growth and job creation. Our global efforts to safeguard our prosperity will prioritise in particular the promotion of trade, tourism, education and investment, and the continued enhancement of Ireland’s reputation abroad.

“And directly addressing our values, it declares our principled support for a fairer, more just, sustainable and secure world, and sets out how we will undertake to deliver on these principles, including through our development programme and our human rights, peacekeeping and security policies.”

The conference will examine the themes of identity and values in 21st century foreign policy, including Ireland and the UN 2030 sustainable development agenda, Irish peacekeeping in the 21st century, Turkish foreign policy in Syria and post-war humanitarianism in Europe.



30 May 2016

Note for Editors

  • The International Affairs Conference: A Society of Free Nations? Identity and Values in 21st Century Foreign Policy is organised by the Royal Irish Academy.
  • The Conference will feature Irish and international contributors across a number of panels as well as a round-table discussion. Volume 26 of Irish Studies in International Affairs will be launched after the event.
  • The Global Island, Ireland’s 2015 statement of foreign policy may be read here