Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 29 May, 2003

Written Answers. - International Conferences.

  40. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the recent conference organised between his Department and Pax Christi Ireland on explosive remnants of war and development; his views on the findings of the conference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14881/03]

  91. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the conclusions reached at the recent International Conference on Explosive Remnants of War and Development in Dublin Castle, hosted by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14758/03]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 91 together. Rather than drawing any formal conclusions, the aim of the International Conference on Explosive Remnants of War and Development, hosted by my Department and organised by Pax Christi Ireland, was to provide a forum for governments, international and non-governmental organisations, researchers, representatives of the media and other experts to exchange views on the subject of explosive remnants of war. The conference was funded by the Government in conjunction with the Governments of Austria, Canada, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

  The conference also provided an opportunity to highlight the explosive remnants of war issue on which negotiations are taking place in the con[1684]text of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, CCW. In December 2002, states party to the convention agreed to give a mandate to a group of governmental experts to negotiate a new instrument on “post conflict remedial measures of a generic nature which reduce the risks of Explosive Remnants of War”. The co-ordinator of this group, Ambassador Chris Sanders, together with a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross and representatives of several NGOs active in the field addressed the conference. The very useful and interesting papers submitted during the conference will be compiled and presented at the next meeting of the group of governmental experts which will meet in Geneva in June. We hope that these papers will provide a valuable input into their further deliberations.

  My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Roche, in opening the conference stressed Ireland's strong support for and interest in contributing to the development of international controls to reduce the suffering caused by unexploded ordnance and other explosive remnants of war. The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, who delivered closing remarks focused on the implications of explosive remnants of war for development and highlighted the contribution which Ireland Aid is making in support of organisations working with affected populations. Ireland will continue to be active in the ongoing negotiations with the aim of agreeing a legally binding instrument which will address the issue of explosive remnants of war.