I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 123 together.
Unfortunately, no part of the world is totally free from human rights abuses. Ireland, both bilaterally and in association with the European Union and other like-minded partners, makes frequent and numerous interventions with regard to human rights concerns in the countries which have the most serious human rights abuses.
Human rights concerns remain central to our foreign policy. Together with our EU partners, Ireland closely monitors the human rights situations in many countries throughout the world, on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources including official channels, reports of the United Nations Treaty Monitoring Bodies, reports of Independent Experts and Special Rapporteurs appointed by the United Nations and international and Irish non-governmental and civil society organisations.
Where and when the situation warrants, we make known our concerns about human rights violations to the Governments in question. We do this bilaterally, through the EU, or through action at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. The 65th Session of the UN General Assembly is currently taking place in New York. Ireland is playing an active role in negotiating draft resolutions on Iran, Burma and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
We support the use of the full UN human rights machinery in responding to human rights abuses, including supporting the role of UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies, Special Procedures and Mandate Holders and the convening, where appropriate, of Special Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. At these UN bodies, the EU regularly makes statements on the human rights situations in a number of countries. Ireland is fully associated with these statements. The EU also introduces or supports resolutions dealing with specific countries, as circumstances require.
Ireland has engaged proactively with the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review mechanism since its creation in March 2006. At the latest session of the UPR, which took place in Geneva, from 1-12 November 2010, Ireland made a number of interventions, raising issues such as gender based violence, gender equality, fair judicial proceedings, ending criminal sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ratification and implementation of the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the death penalty and the protection of human rights defenders within the States under review. Ireland asked questions of or made recommendations to Honduras, Lebanon, Liberia, Malawi, Mongolia and the United States of America. Member States are expected to report to the Human Rights Council on their follow up to their examination under the Universal Periodic Review process, including whether or not they have implemented their UPR recommendations.
The EU has adopted Common Positions on certain countries, which attach priority to promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law. In addition, the EU conducts human rights dialogues with a number of countries and also raises human rights concerns as part of political dialogue meetings.
Together with our EU partners, Ireland has been a consistent and strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, recognising it as an essential means of combating impunity for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The Court's Prosecutor has opened investigations into a number of country situations and we will continue to monitor this work closely.
The risk of human rights violations is greater where political, economic and administrative systems are weak. Development is essential to allow people the full enjoyment of their human rights, and this is a key concern for Ireland's development co-operation programme. Irish Aid supports specific actions designed to promote human rights, including strengthening government systems and in-country human rights institutions, in particular through legal training. Support is also provided for legal aid programmes targeted at victims of human rights abuses. Irish Aid has a specific focus on governance in several programme countries.
The Government will continue to avail of all the above-mentioned mechanisms and instruments as a means of highlighting violations of human rights and furthering their protection.