Written Answers. - International Instruments.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

253 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will supply the text of Ireland's reservations in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the plans he has to withdraw any of these; if so, when; if any reservations which are no longer applicable have been formally withdrawn; if not, when this will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19511/00]

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed by Ireland on 1 October 1973 and ratified on 8 December 1989. Upon ratification, Ireland made reservations to Articles 6(5), 10(2), 14, 19(2), 20(1) and 23(4).

The reservation entered to Article 6(5), regarding the death penalty, was withdrawn. On 24 August 1998, Ireland transmitted notification of the withdrawal of the reservation to Article 14(6) and the reservation to Article 23(4) of the Covenant to the Secretary General of the United Nations. The enactment of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993, which makes legislative provision for compensation of miscarriages of justice, rendered Ireland's reservation to Article 14(6) of the Covenant, which provides that such compen sation may be made by administrative rather than by legal means, unnecessary. The reservation to Article 23(4), which arose out of the former prohibition on divorce, was withdrawn further to the amendment of Article 41 of the Constitution and the subsequent enactment of the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996.
Ireland maintains the following reservations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These reservations are kept under review. The reservation to Article 10, paragraph 2 – the Article deals with the segregation of accused persons from convicted persons and the segregation and treatment of juvenile offenders – states "Ireland accepts the principles referred to in paragraph 2 of article 10 and implements them so far as practically possible. It reserves the right to regard full implementation of these principles as objectives to be achieved progressively".
The reservation to Article 14 states "Ireland reserves the right to have minor offences against military law dealt with summarily in accordance with current procedures which may not, in all respects, conform to the requirements of article 14 of the Covenant".
The reservation to Article 19 paragraph 2, states "Ireland reserves the right to confer a monopoly on or to require the licensing of broadcasting enterprises".
The reservation to Article 20, paragraph 1 – the Article deals with the prohibition of propaganda for war – states "Ireland accepts the principle in paragraph 1 of article 20 and implements it as far as it is practicable. Having regard to the difficulties in formulating a specific offence capable of adjudication at national level in such a form as to reflect the general principles of law recognised by the community of nations as well as the right to freedom of expression, Ireland reserves the right to postpone consideration of the possibility of introducing some legislative addition to, or variation of, existing law until such time as it may consider that such is necessary for the attainment of the objective of paragraph 1 of article 20".

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

254 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the text of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination will be formally submitted for Dáil approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19512/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

257 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will supply a list of international multilateral human rights instruments which have been adopted since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19517/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

258 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will supply a list of international human rights instruments ratified, or signed without reservation as to ratification, by Ireland since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19518/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

260 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the 1979 UN Convention against the Taking of Hostages; the steps taken towards ratification of the convention since 26 June 1997 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19522/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

261 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the 1989 UN Convention against the Recruitment of Mercenaries; the steps taken towards ratification of the convention since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19523/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

262 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the UN Migrant Workers Convention of 1990; the steps taken toward ratification of the convention since 26 June 1997 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19524/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

267 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and the 1974 Council of Europe Convention; the steps taken toward ratification of the conventions since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19529/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 254, 257, 258, 260, 261, 262 and 267 together.

Ireland has signed or ratified the following international multilateral human rights instruments since 26 June 1997: the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In relation to international human rights instruments originating from the Council of Europe in the same period I refer the Deputy to my response to Question No. 256.

In relation to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Ireland signed in 1968, the necessary legislation, namely the Employment Equality Act, 1998, and the Equal Status Act, 2000, has been enacted. Ratification of the convention is proposed in the coming months. Given the large number and range of international human rights instruments in existence or under negotiation, signature or accession may 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 has not signed the UN International Convention against the taking of hostages, 1979; the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families of 1990, which is not yet in force; the UN International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries of 1989, which has 16 signatories; the UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of 1968, which has ten signatories, or, the European Convention on the Non-applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes of 1974, which has four signatories. The question of ratification does not arise, therefore, at this point.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

255 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights as promised in the White Paper on Foreign Policy; if he will supply a list of the specific steps taken towards ratification of the protocol since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19514/00]

Protocol No. 7 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was opened for signature on 22 November 1984 and it was signed by Ireland in December 1984. The rights elaborated by this protocol principally concern equality issues, and these are primarily the responsibility of the Department of Justice, Equality, and Law Reform, the Department of Health and Children, and the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. The Department of Foreign Affairs plays a co-ordinating role. Discussions are currently taking place with the relevant departments with a view to ratification of Protocol No. 7 and it is my hope to be in a position to deposit the instrument of ratification with the Council of Europe very shortly.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

256 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will supply a list of Council of Europe instruments in the European Treaty series ratified, or signed without reservation as to ratification, by Ireland since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19516/00]

The following Council of Europe instruments in the European Treaty series have been signed and ratified by Ireland since 26 June 1997:

European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production, signed without reservation as to ratification on 28 April 2000; Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, signed on 1 February 1995 and ratified on 7 May 1999; European Agreement Relating to Persons Participating in the Proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights, signed on 3 June 1998 and ratified on 7 May 1999; and Sixth Protocol to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe , signed on 3 June 1998 and ratified on 28 October 1998.
Questions Nos. 257 and 258 taken with Question No. 254.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

259 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the Council of Europe European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes of 1957; the role of Ireland in drafting or initiating the convention; the steps taken towards ratification of the convention since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19520/00]

The European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes was opened for signature on 29 April 1957 and was signed, subject to ratification, on that date, on behalf of the Government of Ireland. There have been no signatures or ratifications of this convention since 1970. The primary framework in Europe for the peaceful settlement of disputes is provided by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Accordingly, the question of ratification by Ireland of the Convention has not been receiving active consideration.

The negotiations which led to the drafting of this convention took place in the 1950s. The documents relating to the role my Department played in the drafting or initiating of the Convention are now part of the National Archives.

Questions Nos. 260, 261 and 262 taken with Question No. 254.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

263 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when Ireland will ratify the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the Convention on Treaties between States and International Organisations; the steps taken toward ratification of the conventions since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19525/00]

The United Nations Convention on the Law of Treaties was done at Vienna on 23 May 1969 and entered into force on 27 January 1980. The United Nations Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organisations or between International Organisations was done at Vienna on 21 March 1986 but has not yet entered into force. Ireland proposes to accede to both conventions. Before the State may become party to the conventions however further consideration of their terms will be necessary due to their complexity and no date has been set by which Ireland will become a party to them. In any event, I should point out that many provisions of both conventions merely codify existing rules of customary international law by which Ireland is already bound in its treaty relations with other states and with international organisations. I am satisfied that while it is desirable that Ireland should in due course become party to both conventions, our international relations are not adversely affected by the fact that we have yet to accede to them.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

264 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the current position in relation to a declaration under Article 36(2) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice; the steps taken in this regard since 26 June 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19526/00]

Ireland became a party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice upon joining the United Nations in 1955, an act fully consistent with Ireland's commitment, under Article 29.2 of the Constitution, to the peaceful settlement of international disputes. However, in view of the possible legal consequences of doing so at that time we did not then make a declaration under Article 36(2) of the statute accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the court.

Now that a means has been found for regulating and resolving the sovereignty dispute over Northern Ireland, the Government are favourably disposed to accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. A thorough consideration of the modalities of making such a declaration is currently under way within my Department.

In the meantime it should be borne in mind that, pending the making of such a declaration, the court may nevertheless exercise jurisdiction in disputes where there is a specific agreement between the parties that the court should do so or where specific treaties so provide. It should also be borne in mind that other forms of dispute settlement may be more suitable in certain cases.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

265 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will supply a list of the recommendations and comments of the UN Human Rights Committee on Ireland's second report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the action which is proposed to address each of these recommendations or comments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19527/00]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

266 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to Ireland's second report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19528/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 and 266 together.

I have been made aware by the Attorney General of his presentation of the second national report submitted under Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the UN Committee on Human Rights in Geneva on 13-14 July 2000. The conclusions of the committee, which were received on 26 July, have been circulated widely and are available in the Library of the House and on the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
In his presentation of the report, which was submitted to the committee on 29 September, 1998, the Attorney General gave an update on the very significant developments since then in the area of human rights legislation. He mentioned in particular the Human Rights Act, the Equal Status Act, the Employment Equality Act and the National Disability Authority Act. The Attorney also drew attention to pending legislation in the following areas: disabilities, where a Bill covering access to public bodies, services and participation in the administration of justice will be enacted; rights of children, including an ombudsman for children; incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into Irish law; mental health; the establishment of an independent prisons authority; and the reform of the law relating to defamation.
The Attorney General also gave the committee a brief description of the commitments entered into under the Good Friday Agreement, with particular emphasis on its human rights provisions. He drew attention to the Government's undertaking to "bring forward measures to strengthen and underpin the constitutional protection of human rights" and that "these proposals will draw on the European Convention on Human Rights and other international legal instruments". Progress on implementation of these measures was also reported to the committee.
The committee, in its concluding observations communicated to us on 26 July, recorded its appreciation of "the high quality of the report of Ireland, which was comprehensive, responded to the concluding observations made by the committee after the examination of the initial report. The committee also appreciated the additional oral and written information provided by the State party delegation during the examination of the report; this information was highly instructive and enhanced the dialogue between the Committee and the delegation. Furthermore the committee welcomed the publication and wide dissemination of the report by the Government and its willingness to involve non-governmental organisations in the process".
The main concerns expressed by the committee related to: a guarantee of Covenant rights in Irish law; the Garda Complaints Board; the Special Criminal Court; detention under the Drug Trafficking Act; participation of women in political, social and economic life; exemptions permitted under the Employment Equality Act; circumstances in which women may legally obtain an abortion; prison conditions; changes in the law regarding asylum seekers; and living standards and low level of participation of the Travelling community in national political and social life.
The Attorney General at the conclusion of the examination informed the committee that progress was being made in many areas of concern to them, such as the Garda Complaints Board, the Special Criminal Court, the Offences Against the State Act and prison conditions and that particular issues which had been raised had been dealt with. The standing interdepartmental committee on human rights – whose establishment the Committee had welcomed in their concluding observations – will be meeting in the very near future to consider all of the concerns and recommendations of the committee.
Finally, the committee requested that the third periodic report be submitted by 31 July 2005 and that it should give particular attention to the issues raised in relation to the second report. Arrangements will be made to comply with these requests.
Question No. 267 taken with Question No. 254.