Written Answers. - International Agreements.

Richard Bruton

Question:

74 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the outstanding international agreements, treaties or conventions which Ireland has yet to accede to; and, in the case of each, the steps he is taking to meet Ireland's obligations. [22060/98]

One of the primary responsibilities of the Department of Foreign Affairs is the pursuance of Ireland's foreign policy objectives in the international arena. In that context, a large number of international agreements, treaties and conventions covering a wide range of subjects fall under the auspices of the Department and it must consider on an ongoing basis the desirability of Ireland signing, or becoming a party to, those agreements which it has not already signed. It may be that the subject matter of an international agreement relates to the area of work of another Department and that Department's views must be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not Ireland should sign or become a party to the particular international agreement. In some cases the input of another Department is required before the State can become party to an international agreement — for example in relation to drafting necessary domestic legislation in order to allow Ireland to fulfil its obligations under such an agreement.

Given the vast number and range of international agreements, treaties and conventions involved, signature or accession will not necessarily be under active consideration in respect of all such agreements at any given time. The situation is kept under review in the context of the ongoing assessment and prioritisation of Ireland's international commitments. Ireland is of course generally under no particular obligation to sign or accede to international agreements, treaties and conventions.

In cases where it is proposed that Ireland would sign or become a party to a particular agreement, it may not always be possible to state when that will happen. In advance of the Sate becoming a party to an agreement, its provisions may require careful consideration, in particular to assess whether there are any constitutional implications and to determine whether domestic legislation is required to enable the State to fulfil its obligations upon becoming a party to the relevant convention.

In cases where signature or accession may not necessarily be under active consideration at a given time, this should not be taken to mean that signature or accession at some stage in the future has been ruled out.
If the Deputy has a query concerning Ireland's position with regard to a particular international agreement, treaty or convention which Ireland has not signed or become a party to, he might point this out to me and I will provide him with the information he requires.