An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, are this week attending high-level meetings and United Nations events in New York. The Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon, will also attend, along with representatives of 193 Member States, who are gathering for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
The Taoiseach attended the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit yesterday to mark the centenary of Mandela’s birth. Ireland played a prominent role in the event, having led the negotiations in partnership with South Africa, which agreed the political declaration issuing from the Summit.
The Taoiseach delivered a statement in the General Assembly Hall, following remarks by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The summit celebrated the legacy of Nelson Mandela and sought to renew the determination and responsibility of UN member states to apply his values.
Speaking in advance of the Summit, the Taoiseach said: “I’m looking forward to returning to the United Nations this week to participate in the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. This event marks an important opportunity to reflect on Mandela’s legacy. It’s not only a celebration of his life, but also a moment for the global community to see how Mandela’s commitment to peace, reconciliation and human rights, can help us to meet the challenges we face today.”
The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister of State will hold bilateral meetings with counterparts from around the world. Ireland’s campaign for election to the UN Security Council for the 2021 to 2022 term was formally launched in July, and this week is an opportunity for Ireland’s candidature to be raised with member States whose backing is essential at the election in June 2020.
The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will highlight Ireland’s long standing commitment to the UN, including Irish participation in UN peacekeeping operations. This year marks 60 years of unbroken UN peacekeeping service by Irish men and women.
During his visit, the Tánaiste will speak to the United Nations General Assembly, emphasising the importance of multilateralism in meeting the many challenges facing the world today.
The Tánaiste said: “Our world today is imperilled by challenges, which no country alone can solve. Ireland is determined to play a role and meet our responsibilities at the United Nations. From protecting our planet to providing humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, we must work together in partnership and with understanding.
“The UN General Assembly provides Ireland with a unique opportunity to project our values as a nation, and also to gain insights from others. While in New York I look forward to meeting with many leaders to discuss how we can work together to build peace and stem the tide of conflict globally. We must look to address the root causes of issues, such as hunger, migration and violence against women and girls. This can only be done through global cooperation, based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights.”
Other programme elements will include the Tánaiste attending the signing ceremony for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Ireland, as one of the Core Group – which put forward the UN Resolution, which led to the adoption of the Treaty last year – were among the first States to sign it in 2017. When in New York, the Tánaiste will deposit Ireland’s instrument of ratification of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which deals with the crime of aggression in international law, as well as engaging in other events, which demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to the ICC and international criminal justice.
Humanitarian assistance will also feature prominently in the Tánaiste’s programme. He will attend a Ministerial level lunch on the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and an event, which Ireland is co-sponsoring, on the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. The Tánaiste will also engage with the President of Kiribati on an event on climate change and sustainable development, and have the opportunity to interact with EU Ministers present in New York. The Tánaiste’s programme will conclude on Saturday in New York’s Central Park, where he will speak about Ireland’s overseas development aid commitments and focus on girl’s education at the Global Citizen Festival, an annual gathering aimed at deepening citizen engagement on global issues.
Minister of State Cannon’s programme, in addition to a wide range of bilateral meetings with representatives of Member States, will include participation in the Group of Friends on Climate and Security. He is also scheduled to attend high level meetings on both the fight against tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases. Gender equality is to feature prominently also, with Minister of State Cannon attending a panel on gender-based violence in emergencies, and a consultation with civil society on women, peace, security and humanitarian action.
Minister Cannon said: “Ireland’s record of deep engagement since joining the UN in 1955 is something we can be proud of. Having recommitted to reaching the UN target of 0.7% of GNI for overseas development assistance by 2030, and with the ongoing review of Ireland’s programme of international development assistance, we continue to show as a nation that we recognise our responsibilities to help alleviate suffering and to contribute to transforming our world for the better.”
For the fourth year, Ireland’s delegation will include UN Youth Delegates.
The Tánaiste stated: “Ireland’s Youth Delegate Programme has been a huge success, adding a new dimension to the work of my Department. Not only do our youth delegates have an important role to play in representing to the world the deep engagement and social conscience of our young people, they can inform our policies, so that they recognise the impact the actions we take today have on tomorrow. I am delighted that we will have in our delegation this year Aisling O’Boyle from Dundrum, Dublin, and Jamie Moore from Dungarvan, Waterford. I look forward to working with them in New York, and over the course of their time as Ireland’s Youth Delegates.”