Dáil Éireann - Volume 557 - 13 November, 2002

Written Answers. - UN General Assembly.

  90. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his address to the 57th General Assembly of the United Nations on 13 September 2002. [21454/02]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The annual general debate of the UN General Assembly offers governments the opportunity to set out the principles underpinning their approach to foreign policy, to highlight issues of particular concern and to state positions on current international issues.

  During this year's general debate, the shadow and the implications of events since 11 September 2001 and the possibility of conflict with Iraq and in the Middle East were major sources of re-occupation. It was in that context that I took the opportunity of my address to the General Assembly to emphasise the role of the UN as the centre of our system of collective security and to stress the importance of the international community standing by the UN and the rule of law.

  I spoke on how our experience as a member of the Security Council has strongly reinforced our belief in the system of collective global security and on the importance of the Council's role as guardian of peace and security.

  I also reflected on the response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September and on the need for continued persistence and vigilance in making it impossible for the agents of international terror to operate, while stressing that we must respect the UN Charter and the body of international human rights law.

  I set out Ireland's position on four serious threats to world peace – the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and India and Pakistan. I addressed a number of thematic issues which Ireland regards as particularly important – the control and elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the challenge that conflict prevention presents to the UN and, in that context, the importance of sustainable development as a means of addressing the long-term causes of conflict, the importance of universal access to basic health care Ireland's continuing commitment to UN peacekeeping and the need to respect human rights.

[499]   As is customary, I also briefed on developments in Northern Ireland recognising the substantial progress across the key areas of implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and restating our absolute commitment to the Agreement.

  The opportunity to set out Ireland's priorities and concerns to the General Assembly is invaluable and was particularly important this year given our membership of the Security Council and the unsettled international security situation. The statement was the backdrop for subsequent discussions with Ministers of other member states on a range of issues and it provides the basis for follow-up by the delegation to the UN at working-level negotiation and discussion for the remainder of the General Assembly session.