Written Answers. - Programme for Government.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

116 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs in regard to the commitment given in An Agreed Programme for Government, the specific proposals the Government has to ensure that Ireland will play an active role in promoting development, human rights and democracy in the world; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15097/02]

Under An Agreed Programme for Government, the Government is committed to continuing to play an active role in promoting development, human rights and democracy. Human rights are a priority of this Government and a central component of our foreign policy. The Government is actively pursuing its human rights priorities in a wide range of international fora, both on a national basis and also in conjunction with our EU partners. Ireland will continue to fulfil its obligation to promote the 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. Ireland has also been closely concerned with human rights issues at the UN Security Council since taking up its seat in January 2001.

Ireland is actively engaged in the discussion of specific issues with like-minded countries, for example, in the group known as the human security network. The aim of this group is to establish the principle of human security as a central element in the international community's approach to situations of conflict. Its members are Austria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Netherlands, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Switzerland and Thailand. The fourth ministerial meeting of the network will take place in Santiago from 2 to 3 July and will be attended by the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt.

The Government is committed to the active promotion of full observance of universal human rights standards. The obligations we have assumed in relation to international human rights instruments to which we are party will continue to be met in the fullest way possible. As stated in the programme for Government, we are committed to achieving the UN target of 0.7% of GNP by 2007. The programme will be developed along the lines of the Ireland Aid review report with the principal aim of contributing to the reduction of global poverty, inequality and exclusion. Particular initiatives will be taken to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS.