International Security Policy
We aim to ensure Ireland’s values are reflected in the international community’s approach to security, conflict prevention and crisis management.
Ireland is committed to playing a positive and constructive role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Our policy in this area is grounded in the UN Charter and the principle that the UN Security Council has the primary role in maintaining global peace and security.
Ireland’s policy of military neutrality has long been an important strand of our independent foreign policy. As practiced by successive Governments, the policy means Ireland does not participate in military alliances, or common or mutual defence arrangements.
Our EU and international partners have always fully respected Ireland’s sovereignty, independence and neutrality. The legal guarantees given by the European Council in June 2009 confirmed that the EU’s security and defence policy does not affect or prejudice Ireland’s traditional policy of military neutrality.
The Department works with the UN, the EU, and other international partners to promote global peace and stability. We coordinate Ireland’s input to UN peacekeeping policy together with the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice.
The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) has evolved as a central part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). CSDP is just one element within the EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis management, and includes both civilian and military capabilities and operations. Our International Security Policy Section is involved in the development of the CSDP and, in close coordination with the Department of Defence, we contribute to policy discussions which take place in Brussels. We also send civilian and military experts to CSDP missions and operations overseas.
The Strategic Compass, approved by the Foreign Affairs Council and endorsed by the European Council in March 2022, outlines the way forward for the European Union in the field of security and defence over the course of the next ten years. The document sets out the reality of the current European security environment, notably in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It then proposes a series of actions and deliverables in areas such as crisis management, resilience, capability development and partnerships with key international actors. Each of these actions lists a set of clear policy objectives, with timelines for implementation. The implementation of the Strategic Compass began immediately after endorsement by the European Council. The Strategic Compass will mean an increase in the level of ambition for EU CSDP, including through existing initiatives such as PESCO and the European Defence Fund. It will also put in place a 5,000 strong force ready to deploy to complex crises across the globe, in the form of a new Rapid Deployment Capacity.
UN Peace Support Operations
Ireland became a member of the United Nations in 1955. Since 1958, Ireland is proud of its tradition of being the only nation to have a continuous presence on UN and UN-mandated peace support operations, mainly in the Middle East. However, in recent years, Irish personnel have also found themselves in many other parts of the globe as peacekeepers.
The operational experience gained continues to form a solid foundation from which to face the challenges posed by the changing nature of international conflict prevention and crisis management. In recent years, the international community has recognised the need for a more comprehensive approach to tackling the root causes of conflict, and has prioritised building and restoring political, economic and legal institutions. Consequently, civilian crisis management missions are playing a valuable role in preventing conflict from starting or reoccurring.
EU Civilian Missions
In support of this, we are directly involved in sending Irish citizens with expertise in a range of areas including human rights, justice and rule of law to participate in the EU’s civilian CSDP missions in Libya, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Kosovo, Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq, the Central African Republic and the Palestinian Territories.
The Department of Foreign Affairs also manages Ireland’s participation in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO’s Partnership for Peace framework (PfP) in coordination with the Department of Defence. The PfP is a programme of practical bilateral cooperation between partner countries and NATO. It allows partners to build up an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities for cooperation. Since joining PfP in 1999, our involvement has delivered significant improvements for our Defence Forces in terms of capability development and interoperability.
Cyber and Hybrid threats
Cyber-attacks and hybrid campaigns are an increasingly prominent feature of the international security landscape. The scale of the challenge requires a robust and coordinated EU and national approach. Internationally, Ireland works closely with like-minded states with the shared objective of defending and promoting a secure, safe, accessible, free and open internet where human rights and fundamental freedoms apply, both online and offline. Ireland’s approach is guided by the 2019 - 2024 National Cyber Security Strategy. The Department of Foreign Affairs works in close coordination with the National Cyber Security Center and the Department of Energy, Climate and Communications on cyber security and cyber diplomacy and with the Department of Justice on cyber-crime issues.