Ireland Opening Statement at WFUNA Debate
News29 May 2020
Thank you very much Bonian, Pablo, thanks to WFUNA. I’m delighted to be here.
As an ACT member, I believe that candidates, should set out their stall, and importantly, peer to peer, also engage the wider membership and civil society.
I’m here today with no sense of entitlement. That’s not the Irish way.
I’m here to show you that you can rely on Ireland - trust us with the weight of responsibility that comes with a Security Council seat.
Ireland was the first to declare our candidature for this election way back in 2005. The world was a very different place then.
That was pre-Paris Climate Accord, pre-SDGs, and, of course, pre-COVID.
No country has been spared the suffering, loss, and hardship of COVID19. Irish humanitarian Bono said “we may all be in same storm, but some of us are in different boats”.
In vulnerable contexts, the impact of Covid can be devastating, exacerbating inequalities, including on climate security.
For my country, the only response to this and the other challenges we will face on the Security Council, is a revitalised, effective multilateralism – always at the heart of Irish foreign policy. Our interdependence has never been more evident, multilateralism arguably never more threatened.
So why is Ireland seeking to take on this role at this time? Why not stand in the wings?
It is because we believe we have a responsibility to step up, even when times are tough. I might say because times are tough. As JFK said “pray not for easy times but for strong women and men.”
Ireland is a small country on the periphery of Europe. Like many here, as we escaped colonialization and fought for our independence, we found our place in the world, here, at the UN. We grew up here, came of age here.
The rules based international order protected us and helped us to give full expression to our hard won sovereignty. We will always defend the UN. We need it. We do not wax and wane.
In Ireland, we have lived through conflict. Others helped us to bring peace to our country. Now, we seek to help end conflict elsewhere. Peacekeeping is in our DNA. Per capita, we are by far the biggest TCC from the Western European and Others Group. Every year, 13% of Ireland’s defence forces proudly wear that blue beret, as precious to us as the Irish harp. We have an unbroken record of peacekeeping service for over 60 years.
Relatively recently we have experienced mass migration, poverty and famine. We are marked by that history. And, we honour that memory through an internationally recognised development programme that delivers for the most vulnerable.
We are an independent and neutral country, beholden to no one. We are led, not by what we have to gain, but what we have to offer. Bridge-builders by nature, we don’t come to the table as ‘large and in charge’; we come to ask how we can help?
As members of the EU we understand the importance of working together.
In this noisy fractious world, where geo-politics have become entangled in every sphere, Irish diplomats listen. We learn. We don’t just talk, we deliver. You have seen our work co-facilitating the Samoa Pathway Declaration and the Mandela Political Declaration, our work with the Marshall Islands on the Youth Climate Summit. I will never forget my two-year term chairing the CSW; steering the Commission through difficult waters to agreed conclusions.
The Irish capacity to forge compromises is well recognised, we stand up for the UN’s founding principles. We are clear-eyed, thoughtful, courageous.
Of the three of us here today, Ireland has served the least time on the Council, but we always leave our mark. Our previous Council terms saw us speak truth to power. We stood up for the principles of this Charter then, we will again.
If you have heard me, I have also heard you.
I share your frustration at the apparent inability of the Council to act now, I will work for a Council that meets its responsibilities, addresses the changing drivers of conflict, including climate, and puts individuals, particularly women and youth, at its heart.
We will uphold core humanitarian principles and international law.
As a small country, we are pragmatic, we know that incremental steps can make big inroads. You know that we have achieved this, again and again.
We will push hard to make a real difference – not for ourselves or for our reputation – but for those whose lives the Council’s actions – or inaction – affects the most.
Who we are as candidates is exactly who we will be as Council members. There will be no changes in position, no settling into cosy relationships. If we are elected, we will not forget who elected us. We have a deep responsibility to the GA.
In all of that You can trust us and rely on us.
Kofi Annan said “When the cameras are switched off and the lights go down, the Irish are still there.”
That’s who I am. That is the team you know here. That’s the country I am proud to represent.
Thank you, Mr Moderator.