Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 28 November, 2000
Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
97. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the major areas world-wide in respect of which human rights abuses are alleged; the degree to which the international community is aware of this; the efforts he has made at UN or EU level to co-ordinate efforts to combat this ever increasing problem; if he will initiate any strategies to deal with this and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27532/00]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
166. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the locations throughout the world where human rights abuses are alleged; the actions taken by the international community to combat this and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27828/00]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 166 together.
Human rights are a priority of this Government and a central component of our foreign policy. In co-operation with our EU partners and other concerned states, the Government continually monitors the human rights situation in many  countries throughout the world. We believe that the international community has an obligation to act when it has concerns, and that these concerns should be pursued whenever possible in a constructive spirit of co-operation and dialogue, conscious of the responsibility which devolves on all Governments to promote and protect human rights.
This Government has commented publicly on many occasions on those situations which give rise to grave concern, in a national capacity and as a member of the EU and the Council of Europe. These concerns have also been raised on a consistent basis by this country's representatives at the UN General Assembly and at the UN Commission on Human Rights. Ireland plays an active role in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and closely co-ordinates with EU partners in identifying priorities and strategies for human rights issues. At the recently concluded session of the Third Committee, the EU sponsored resolutions on the human rights situations in Sudan, Iran, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which were adopted by vote. Ireland also co-sponsored Sweden's resolution on the human rights situation in Burma. In addition, Ireland's resolution on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance was adopted by consensus. Ireland will also be closely concerned with human rights issues at the UN Security Council, on taking up our seat in January 2001.
Concerted international pressure applied through multilateral organisations such as the EU, UN and the Council of Europe is one of the most effective means of combating human rights abuses. However, despite the efforts of the global community in international and regional fora, it has to be acknowledged that the systems in place for preventing and tackling flagrant human rights abuses do not always prove adequate. Reasons for this range from the failure of states to ratify relevant international instruments to a lack of resources and even political will to focus on these problems.
Ireland is actively engaged in the discussion of specific issues with like-minded countries, notably in a group known as the Human Security Network. This initiative of the Canadian and Norwegian Governments is aimed at establishing the principle of human security as a central element in the international community's approach to situations of conflict.
The Government is committed to the active promotion of full observance of universal human rights standards. We will continue to voice our concerns, wherever possible in partnership with other like-minded countries, in international fora such as the UN General Assembly, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the OSCE and the UN Security Council on taking up our seat in January 2001.
Dáil Éireann 526 Written Answers. Human Rights Abuses.