Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the ten most vulnerable locations worldwide in respect of which democracy and human rights are at risk; the extent to which he and his colleagues in the EU and through the UN are proposing to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15205/02]

My Department does not produce a "top ten" list of countries in regard to human rights violations, nor do the EU or UN produce such a list.

Human rights are a priority of this Government and a central component of our foreign policy. In co-operation with our EU partners and other concerned states, the Government continually monitors the human rights situation in many countries throughout the world. The international community has an obligation to act when it has concerns and believes that these concerns should be pursued whenever possible in a constructive spirit of co-operation and dialogue, conscious of the responsibility which devolves on all Governments to promote and protect human rights.

This Government has commented publicly on many occasions on those situations which give rise to grave concern, in a national capacity and as a member of the EU and the Council of Europe. These concerns have also been raised on a consistent basis by this country's representatives at the UN General Assembly and at the UN Commission on Human Rights. Ireland plays an active role in the third committee of the UN General Assembly and is currently closely co-ordinating with EU partners in identifying priorities and strategies for the forthcoming General Assembly. At the most recent session of the Commission on Human Rights, the EU sponsored resolutions on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Burma-Myanmar, Sudan, Iran, and Chechnya. The EU also drafted chair's statements on Colombia and East Timor. In addition, the EU sponsored a resolution on Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories.

Ireland has also been closely concerned with human rights issues at the UN Security Council, since taking up our seat in January 2001. Concerted international pressure applied through multilateral organisations such as the UN, EU and the Council of Europe is one of the most effective means of combating human rights abuses. However, despite the efforts of the global community in international and regional fora, it has to be acknowledged that the systems in place for preventing and tackling flagrant human rights abuses do not always prove adequate. Reasons for this range from the failure of states to ratify relevant international instruments, to a lack of resources and political will to focus on these problems.
The Government is committed to the active promotion of full observance of universal human rights standards and will continue to voice its 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 and the UN Security Council.