Foreign Policy: Motion.

I move:

The need for Ireland to develop a strong, independent and principled foreign policy in the light of:

(a) the global threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of the arms trade; and

(b) the unprecedented population explosion which will be the subject of the International Conference on Population Development to be held in Cairo in September.

I am glad that the Minister of State is so ably and magnificently served. A collection of advisers entered the Chamber with him and I hope he will not be disappointed by finding that there is little requirement for them.

They are always most welcome. I welcome the Minister of State to the House. As he is aware, this House takes a particular interest in foreign affairs and that is why I placed the motion on the Order Paper dealing with two significant and important matters. It is important that we take a principled and strong stand, as we have on occasions in the past, although by no means consistently.

I will not try to blind the House with statistics for a number of reasons. First, it is not good politics and secondly, I am unequipped. I am the result of a Protestant miracle. I am a hospital patient at present and I was cured by the rector of Glasnevin for a period of three hours in order to speak to the motion.

Another miracle.

I am grateful to my colleagues for facilitating me in this matter. The first part of the motion concerns the arms trade. One might have thought that in an increasingly favourable situation in terms of nuclear proliferation one need not particularly worry. However, as the Minister of State is aware, there is grave cause for concern with regard to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union and the placing of nuclear weapons in volatile control there.

I will leave that matter to one side because the type of issues I wish to deal with are unprincipled exports from the European Union, in the main, to dictatorial, tyrannical and undemocratic regimes, which have no mandate from their people either to invest in munitions or to employ them wickedly in the pursuit of a criminal foreign policy. The principal example is East Timor. This is an area where not only the Minister of State but also the Tánaiste, Deputy Spring, and his distinguished predecessor, Deputy Andrews, have shown considerable concern.

It is extraordinary that the World Bank should make £1.4 billion available in grants to that regime, which is nothing other than a military dictatorship and tyranny. It is exactly the amount of money that is spent by the Indonesian dictatorship on arms, including arms which are employed in an act of genocide against the small, defenceless people of East Timor.

I convict the Governments of France, Germany and in particular the UK. I wish to read a cynical and shameful exchange which was broadcast in this country in a film made by Mr. John Pilger. The exchange was between Mr. Pilger and Mr. Alan Clarke, then a junior Minister at the British Department of Defence. It would require some savage irony to deal with this but I will leave it on the record.

John Pilger: Shouldn't the public be cynical about all this after what happened over Iraq? Shouldn't the public be cynical about assurances, guidelines and denials from Government about the sale of arms?

Alan Clarke: I don't know what you mean by the public but I don't think the majority of people give a damn about it unless those weapons are going to be used against our own troops.

John Pilger: But it is the assumption that the public doesn't give a damn that allows Ministers and officials to deceive, isn't that correct?

Alan Clarke: Why should they want to deceive if the public doesn't give a damn?

John Pilger: Isn't all this in broad terms about the right of a small country not to be invaded by a large neighbour?

Alan Clarke: Yeah, but they weren't British, were they?

John Pilger: That makes a difference?

Alan Clarke: Of course it makes a difference. My responsibility is to my own people. I don't really fill my mind much with what one set of foreigners is doing to another.

In other words, it is perfectly permissible to export lethal materials to a criminal dictatorship, knowing that they will be used to murder innocent civilians in the pursuit of profit so long as it does not happen to impinge upon the consciousness of the British people, so long as there are no British casualities.

I ask the Minister of State to comment on whether that is acceptable morality. I remind him that the Constitution of this country is clearly determined as Christian and democratic and there is, therefore, a requirement, with which I have not always felt comfortable, that all policies of this State be Christian. How comfortable are we with this policy on the part of a neighbour country?

There is an enormous proliferation of landmines. The Minister of State is aware of this because he also attended meetings of the Foreign Affairs committee where representations were made by wonderful people from Ireland who have worked in the developing countries, many of them priests and nuns. One could not but be moved by the passion with which they spoke. They almost always referred to these devilish weapons, which are so easy and cheap to produce, so profitable to export and so extraordinarily expensive to defuse. The Minister of State is aware in so many countries of the developing world that children are inevitably used, either by accident or design, as human minesweepers. I ask the Minister of State to comment on this aspect.

Regarding the second part of the motion, world population is another area where it is important for us to register a point. A campaign is being orchestrated at present to undermine a sensible approach to world population. In particular, it is being mounted, supported and pushed out by theSunday Business Post. I am told it is unprofitable for politicians to attack newspapers. I was particularly glad that the distinguished playwright, Dennis Potter, before he died took a swipe at Mr. Murdoch and his works. I have no hesitation in taking a swipe at the Sunday Business Post, whose editor has liberally libelled me in the past. Consequently, I do not feel that I am in any further danger of his venom. The editorial of June 19 was a criminal disgrace. It stated: “We believe that the wealthy West is now infected with neoMalthusian thinking”. The House should note the term “infection”. It further stated:

It is not just the widespread use of abortion in very wealthy states to destroy human life... [raising the scare of abortion] The so-called liberals in western countries feel entirely comfortable in lecturing the poor of India and Africa about the `evil' of having large families...

What rubbish. What are these people to eat while this mathematical model, which may be of academic interest, could perhaps demonstrate that it might be possible theoretically to feed the existing population of the world without catapulting certain areas inevitably into famine? What are they to eat while this machinery is being established? Are they to eat the editorials of theSunday Business Post or the fatuous article by Mr. David Quinn who, nevertheless, asks a series of excellent questions? Would that I were Jonathan Swift and had the capacity to deal with this rubbish in the manner it deserves.

He asks, "what exactly does "overpopulation" mean?". A very good question, Mr. Quinn. He asks, "can we consider a region to be overpopulated when it experiences famine?". He thinks this is a vexed question. It is perfectly clear that if a region is threatened with famine one must consider overpopulation to be one of the ingredients.

Is a region overpopulated when it is too densely populated? ...Is a region overpopulated when its rate of economic development cannot keep up with its rate of population growth? ...Is the world overpopulated when the strain on the ecosystem becomes too great?

If he does not know the answer to these questions, I will tell him. The answer is yes. When people are starving, when the environment is being degraded, when the population is exploding at such a rate that it will double in the next 30 years, we are facing a potential catastrophe and something must be done about it.

Even those people who in the past thought that this matter could be dealt with in different ways are now converted. I refer to ProfessorPaul McNulty who, in an article in The Sunday Tribune of 26 June, under the heading “Second Thoughts — Can population policy save Africa from starvation?”—a carefully balanced article — indicated that he had reconsidered his position. He says that it is vital to undertake at least some degree of careful, measured population control. Otherwise there is no question that the situation in Africa will be extreme. He underlines the fact that there must be appropriate birth control measures and that they must be consonant with the cultural climate of the countries being encouraged to engage in them.

It is not accident that these things are occurring. I was accused of being part of an international conspiracy when I started the gay movement. We, at least, have contributed our little bit to the decline in world population although others have happily taken up the slack. There is some degree of co-ordination in the number of letters appearing mysteriously in the newspapers, the number of editorials in certain sections of the press and the policy of the Vatican. I deplore that policy.

The regime in the Vatican is unrepresentative and undemocratic and the Vatican glorifies that. The Vatican occupies an ambiguous position. The Papal Nuncio is a doyen of the diplomatic corps representing a tiny state that has a very powerful diplomatic arm. This is something we must watch. I hope I do not speak in a sectarian manner but one can follow the movements of the Vatican over the last few years from the Rio Earth Summit, when the Vatican and Mr. Bush's administration conspired to force issues of world population off the agenda of that summit, to the preparations for the Cairo conference in which it is clear that once again the Vatican is attempting to subvert the democratic wish of most of the peoples of the earth by raising a scare and by frightening governments. I sincerely hope that this Government will stand firm and take a measured, considered, balanced and humane view on this issue.

I look forward to hearing the Minister and my colleagues and I will return to this issue at the conclusion of the debate.

I welcome the Minister. Senator Norris dealt very ably with the first part of the motion. However, the production of landmines is particularly important as they are used against civilian targets. Countries which give vast amounts of aid to the Third World are, at the same time, producing and exporting landmines. I urge the Minister to seek not only the cessation of the export of landmines but also the cessation of their production. Even arable land cannot be used because of the fear of landmines.

The Vatican has spoken out very strongly about the world population conference. It has also spoken out very strongly on the international arms trade and discussed the ethical issues involved in it. It has said that while righteous self-defence is one matter there should be compulsory mediation in most areas. However, this did not get much coverage while the Vatican statements on abortion have received the main coverage in the media.

This is an independent country without a State church. No Minister is asked by this country to represent views which are abhorrent to him or her. I will not ask the Minister to represent abortion as being a suitable method of population control. Abortion can never be the preferred end of a pregnancy. However, I ask him before he goes to Cairo to consider our comments on illegal abortion in the Third World. Ninety nine per cent of illegal abortions take place in the Third World. Of the 0.5 million women who die each year as a result of conditions associated with pregnancy and childbirth, 200,000 die as a result of illegal abortion. I hope the Minister will outline what he proposes to do about this issue.

The maternal mortality rate of any country — the death rate associated with pregnancy — is not just a question of poverty. It is a question of what priority society gives to women who are pregnant and giving birth. Geographic boundaries cannot allow us to be indifferent to the suffering of others. I also read the newspaper articles quoted by Senator Norris. I read an article inThe Irish Times recently accusing “feminists” of interfering with traditional cultures in other countries. It said they wished to “liberate” the people of the developing world from their inconvenient attachment to children. The words “woman” or “man” were not mentioned in the article. Governments do not have children. Women and men have children and it is they who will be affected by the loss of a mother.

The most important factor that causes families to have large numbers of children is the increase in the survival rate of children under five. I would be very surprised if the abolition of the immunisation programmes in Third World countries was considered a suitable method of population control. Let us put that beside the abortion option. In general, it is not lack of food but illness and inadequate care during illness that causes the death of young children. All the articles I have read concentrate on macro-economics and not on micro-economics. As Senator Norris said, if one cannot feed somebody surely that is a famine.

Three factors are important in this forthcoming conference and I hope the Minister will address them. He is suitably qualified having previously been Minister for Women's Affairs. The most important factors in family planning are: first, the status of women; secondly, the education of women; thirdly, the provision of family planning. The status of women in many countries is very low. The mother of three sons is admired, the mother of three daughters is pitied. Making women more valuable in a country has a tremendous effect on family planning in the country. Female infanticide has been replaced in some countries by the abortion of female foetuses due to the new technology of pre-natal sexing. This surely cannot be a method of population control.

Equality legislation must precede changes in attitude and I hope the Minister will make that clear to the national representatives he will address. Women should be encouraged to participate in politics, in national institutions and to be on decision-making bodies. They are not participants in many countries. Women are very involved in environmental issues. It is interesting to note that two of the women MEPs elected by Ireland are members of the Green Party while Mary Banotti has a strong interest in environmental issues. Women professionals in the European Union have long urged that women in developing countries should be given a better chance in decision-making bodies.

In most Third World countries the female literacy rate is far behind the male literacy rate, a factor which makes it almost impossible for them to get information on family planning. Indeed, it is not the poorest countries which are the worst in this respect. An educated woman is more valuable to her family and is more involved in decision-making. She delays marriage and her first pregnancy. Her secondary education is especially important in her participation in the life of the country.

It is suggested that one in five pregnancies in the world is unplanned and unwanted and that 50 per cent of the women who have these children suffer from malnutrition, iron deficiency and anaemia. In one generation the average family size in Ireland has dropped from four to two, despite an increase in the marriage rate. There has not been a marked decrease in the birth rate; from about 70,000 per year in 1970 to just over 50,000 now. If women are given a choice a large number will want to control the size of their families.

In some regimes it is extremely difficult for women to get access to family planning because of the attitudes of the dominant religion in their country. This should not be so. The hierarchies of most religions are male. Men are little involved in family planning in many countries and more commitment from them within the family is essential. The sexual practices in many other countries are not the same as in our own. There is not always monogamy and family planning must extend beyond the family as we understand it.

I hope the Minister will refer to the 60 per cent increase in AIDS cases in the past year — from 2.6 million victims to 4 million worldwide. The vast majority of these cases have been spread through the heterosexual community. Like Senator Norris, I cannot understand the articles in the right wing press which seem to try to disabuse people of this notion. This has also led to a great increase in international child prostitution. It is classed as tourism in some countries. Younger children are always being sought for this activity because it is presumed they are the least likely to have AIDS. The people involved in child prostitution come from Third World countries and the children who are sold into prostitution often come from conditions of great poverty.

When speaking to delegations from Third World countries, the Minister should inform them that we, too, suffered from authoritarianism, though much has changed. Austin Clarke may not have been a feminist but in thinking, he was before his time. This is one of his poems:

`How many children have you?' asked

The big Redemptorist.

`Six, Father.'

`The last,

When was it born?'

`Ten months ago,'

`I cannot absolve your mortal sin

Until you conceive again. Go home,

Obey your husband.'

She whimpered:


The doctor warned me...'

Shutter became

Her coffin lid. She twisted her thin hands

And left the box.

The missioner,

Red-bearded saint, had brought hell's flame

To frighten women on retreat:

Sent on his spiritual errand,

It rolled along the village street

Until Rathfarnham was housing smoke

That sooted the Jesuits in their Castle.

`No pregnancy. You'll die the next time,'

The Doctor had said.

Her tiredness obeyed

That Saturday night: her husband's weight

Digging her grave. So in nine months, she

Sank in great agony on a Monday.

Her children wept in the Orphanage,

Huddled together in the annexe,

While, proud of the Black Cross on his badge,

The Liguorian, at Adam and Eve's,

Ascended the pulpit, sulphering his sleeves

And setting fire to the holy text.

I welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate and I thank Senators Norris and Henry who have raised many important issues here during my time so far as Minister of State. I am pleased to return here to take part in this important debate. If there are issues raised during the debate which require a reply, I will respond at the end if there is time. I have done that here in the past and it worked well.

That would be welcome.

The motion addresses the need for Ireland to pursue a principled independent foreign policy in light of two challenges facing the international community today — the uncontrolled proliferation of the arms trade and the unprecedented population explosion. These two issues are extremely important. However it is a reflection of the world today that the motion could equally have highlighted a range of other international issues, many inter-related, which require of Ireland and of the international community a strong and committed response. These include the rise of ethnic tensions and conflicts in many parts of the world, including Europe; the degradation of the environment; the plague of drugs and international crime; the abject poverty in many parts of the Third World versus the prosperity of the First World; the dangers of nuclear proliferation; and abuses of human rights. The list goes on.

What all of these issues have in common is that they can only be tackled effectively by concerted international action. It has become a cliche to talk of the global village and of the world being a small place but today more than ever, in economic and political terms and in terms of communications, the world is one community. To tackle the issues threatening the international community requires responses at the national, regional and global level.

Each member of the international community shares responsibility for tackling these issues. They must engage in the analyses of the issues, debate what responses are called for and play their part in the solutions. The Irish people have long had a strong and principled interest in foreign policy issues and as a result Ireland has a distinguished record of engagement in the important international issues of the day, be they human rights, peacekeeping, disarmament or issues of justice and development. I acknowledge the role of the Seanad in our approach to foreign policy and the way it debates so many current issues.

At the regional and global level, in recognition of the international community's increasing interdependence, the network of multilateral organisations and institutions addressing the international agenda has grown and developed — the UN and its family of organisations, the EU, the CSCE, the Council of Europe, ASEAN, the Organisation of African States, the Organisation of American States, NAFTA — a veritable alphabet soup.

Underlying all these acronyms is the basic message that we must co-operate or else. Peace and security, stability and prosperity depend on increasing co-operation at the regional and international level. Not even the large powers can ensure their own securities and destinies in today's interdependent world.

Ireland, as a member of the EU, is involved in one of the most advanced regional co-operation arrangements in the world. Through its common foreign and security policy, the EU has a significant contribution to make in international affairs and through our participation in the CFSP Ireland can make a contribution out of all proportion to our size and greater than if we acted alone.

The global threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of the arms trade is a good example of an issue which must be tackled at all levels. We need only look at the number of conflicts in the world to day to realise that the excessive accumulation of arms is one of the principle threats to international peace and security. Whether the appalling events in Rwanda and Somalia and the death and destruction in the former Yugoslavia could have been avoided, there can be no doubt the availability of large quantities of arms contributed to the scale of the carnage.

So far as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is concerned, the Government is pursuing actively its efforts to help achieve universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a successful outcome to the NPT Review and Extension Conference next year. The threat of nuclear proliferation has not diminished with the end of the cold war: on the contrary, as developments in North Korea demonstrate, the dangers are now greater than ever. The further spread of such weapons would have destabilising regional effects, encouraging weaker states in a region who may not have the means to acquire other weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent. The Government is also active in international efforts to eliminate biological and toxic weapons and it was an original signatory last year of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

With regard to conventional weapons, Ireland neither produces nor exports arms. We have advocated the maximum possible restraint in the production, sale and transfer of all conventional weapons. The question for our foreign policy is how our analysis of the issue, which identifies arms control and reduction as a major factor in ensuring international peace and security, can be converted into meaningful action at the regional and international level.

The international recognition of the threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of conventional weapons emerged at the end of the cold war. When the threat of "mutually assured destruction" by nuclear weapons — that chilling phrase from the recent past — receded, the need to focus on the dangers posed by conventional weapons was recognised. The end of the East-West confrontation resulted in massive stockpiles of military hardware becoming available. The danger this posed was inescapable.

At the European Council in June 1991 the EC Heads of State and Governments expressed alarm at the stockpiling of conventional weapons in certain regions of the world. The European Council stated its belief that far reaching international action was needed immediately to promote restraint and transparency in the transfers of conventional weapons and technologies for military use, in particular towards areas of tension.

Since then, the EU member states, including Ireland, have taken a number of initiatives to promote transparency and restraint in arms transfers. The UN Register of Conventional Arms was established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 1992, which was based on a joint EU-Japan initiative and was cosponsored by Ireland. It took much effort, argument, debate and persuasion on the part of the EU and its member states to achieve this important development. The first returns under the register in 1993 were encouraging; over 80 states submitted returns. The EU has encouraged those countries which failed to submit returns in 1993 to do so in 1994, and has also submitted suggestions to the Secretary-General to improve the level of information contained in the returns for future years.

Improved transparency in arms transfers is only one element in a strategy to deal with the threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of arms. Measures to encourage restraint by countries which export or import arms are another important aspect. At the regional level in Europe the CSCE has adoptedPrinciples Governing Conventional Arms Transfers. This was also the result of an EU initiative. This document, which is politically binding, came into effect on 1 January 1994. It is, in effect, a set of guidelines to encourage restraint in arms transfers, in particular to areas of conflict or potential conflict. It encourages the CSCE states to introduce effective national control mechanisms with regard to arms transfers; to take account of legitimate security requirements and the objective of the least diversion of human and economic resources for armaments; and to take account of human rights compliance by arms importing states.

At the UN General Assembly last year, the Tanáiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Spring, proposed that the UN should elaborate a code of conduct for conventional arms transfers which would encourage states to exercise responsibility and restraint in their arms transfers and which would set out common principles to be observed in this area. This would be similar to the CSCE principles, but would apply to the international community as a whole. We are currently discussing this initiative with our partners in the EU, with a view to securing EU support for our efforts. As was demonstrated in the case of the UN arms register, the full support of the EU. was a key factor in the speed with which the proposal was adopted by the UN.

It would be misleading to suggest that the UN arms register and the UN code of conduct, which the Tanáiste has proposed, would be sufficient in themselves to put an end to the uncontrolled proliferation of arms. These two measures taken together would, however, represent the first steps in an international regime in this area, to be built in future years. Ireland will continue to advocate maximum restraint in arms transfers and we will intensify our efforts to this end.

One category of weapons requires urgent attention. The Government is extremely concerned at the death and suffering caused to civilians by antipersonnel mines which are widespread throughout the countryside in Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique and Combodia, where I saw at first hand the devastating effect of these mines. I am pleased that both Senators raised this issue in their contributions. In additions, these devices have far reaching effects on the welfare, medical and infrastructural systems of the countries affected. Antipersonnel mines, especially unmarked and undetected ones, also pose considerable problems for peacekeeping forces. The consequences of the laying of mines persist long after the cessation of any hostilities which may have motivated their deployment in the first place.

Ireland does not manufacture or permit the export of antipersonnel mines. Within the context of the wider question of promoting greater restraint in the manufacture, possession, transfer and sale of all conventional weapons, Ireland advocates that such restraint should also be applied to landmines. Ireland is strongly supportive of the provisions of the UN convention known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention and is presently taking steps to ratify it. Furthermore, Ireland is supportive of efforts to improve the convention by strengthening the Protocol which deals with landmines and intends to contribute actively to the review conference in 1995. Ireland welcomes the decisions of some manufacturing countries to introduce moratoria on the export of landmines and calls on other producing countries to consider doing likewise.

The Government notes with concern recent reports that companies engaged in the development of landmines have secured contracts for demining in Mozambique. The cost of demining is estimated to be 100 times the cost of laying mines. That is a staggering statistic. It is important to be sure that no company which profits from the manufacture of mines is involved in demining projects. I assure Senator Henry and Senator Norris that I will continue to speak out on this issue and to raise it at every available forum. As a result of my visit to Cambodia, the Government last March made available £300,000 to speed up the process of demining there. This funding is to be channelled through Concern and will be used for removing mines in the Pursat region where Concern has a number of development projects.

As set out in the motion before us, the United Nations is organising a major conference on population and development in Cairo from 5 to 13 September this year. It follows two previous conferences on population which took place in Bucharest in 1974 and Mexico in 1984. The Cairo conference is one of several major conferences with a development theme to be organised in recent years, commencing with the Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The Cairo conference will be followed in March 1995 by the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen and by the International Conference on Women in Beijing later next year.

The Cairo conference will provide an opportunity for the international community to consider the important issues of human population growth and distribution and their implications for our planet's economic and social development. At present, the growth rate of the world's populations is at an all-time high, with an increase of over 90 million people taking place each year. By the year 2015 it is estimated that the world's population, which at present stands at 5.7 billion, may reach as high as eight billion.

While such projected increases are in themselves alarming, the situation is exacerbated by their global distribution. Approximately 93 per cent of current population growth is occurring in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. While Europe has an average growth rate of just 0.3 per cent a year, Africa's population is increasing annually by 2.9 per cent.

The rapid rate of growth in population is placing enormous demands on those societies which are most vulnerable and least able to meet the challenges posed. These challenges are many and varied and include insufficient food supply, increased demands on water resources, greater pollution and poverty in ever-expanding urban centres, and severe pressures on already inadequate health and education systems.

It is against this background that the Cairo conference will take place. In Cairo governments will attempts to agree on a comprehensive response to the challenges posed by population growth. Already there have been three meetings of the preparatory committee and attention is now focusing on the Draft Programme of Action to be adopted at Cairo. This Draft Programme of Action will address the problems raised by population growth in the context of sustainable development. The first substantive chapter of the text is entitled, "Interrelationships Between Population, Sustained Economic Growth and Sustainable Development", and argues convincingly that these issues are inextricably linked. To quote from the Draft Programme of Action: "The everyday activities of all human beings, communities and countries are interrelated with population change, patterns and levels of use of natural resources, the state of the environment, and the pace and quality of economic and social development."

The Cairo conference will also deal with a number of other topics which are closely connected with population growth. Gender equality, empowerment of women, health, population distribution and urbanisation, emigration and refugees, education, and research and technology will all be considered in the specific context of population and development. This all encompassing approach, which is similar to that used at the Earth Summit in Rio, has been adopted because it is accepted that attempting to discuss population and development in isolation from these related issues would be a futile exercise.

In many of these areas it is the developing countries which are taking the lead as they witness at first hand the problems posed by the demographic explosion. More and more countries now recognise the need for population programmes which include family planning components. These population policies are essentially a national responsibility but they deserve the support of the international community.

In 1992, the Development Council of the European Community adopted a set of basic principles and implementing guidelines for population programmes. These principles, which Ireland fully supports, include non-coercion and non-discrimination, the observance of the rights of individuals and couples to choose the number and the spacing of their children; the need to integrate population policies and development policies, and attention to be paid to the needs of individuals, families and the wider community.

Although substantial progress has been made at the meetings of the preparatory committee charged with preparing the draft programme of action, a number of issues remain to be resolved at Cairo. One such issue, which is of great concern to Ireland, is that of abortion. We have made our constitutional and legal position on this subject clear to our EU partners and the Irish delegation at Cairo will seek to have language included in the final version of the programme of action which is consistent with our position.

Last year, for the first time, Ireland contributed £50,000 to the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and in 1994 we are increasing our contribution to £150,000. The role of UNFPA is to provide assistance in the field of population, including family planning, awareness and education programmes in response to requests from developing countries. These contributions are in response to the challenges posed by population growth and reflect the growing importance of the issue both within the European Union and in the international community generally.

I have set out in some detail the approach the Government is taking with regard to the two specific subjects mentioned in the motion. I have also sought to outline the broader context within which specific policies are being pursued at national and international level. For our policies to be fully effective and to achieve maximum impact, we must not approach problems as though they existed in isolation; rather, we must have full regard for all of the relevant factors and trends, political and economic, social and cultural, which interact one upon the other. Similarly, we must seek to mobilise the greatest possible support for our efforts, both nationally and internationally, if the desired results are to be achieved.

In conclusion, I again welcome the opportunity to participate in this debate in the Seanad. As this House will recall, one of the early decisions of the Government was the establishment of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was long overdue. The experience to date is encouraging, with the joint committee providing the opportunity for an ongoing input from elected representatives to the foreign policy choices facing the Government. This evening's debate on the motion tabled by Senators Norris and Henry provides a welcome opportunity to hear the views of Members on these important issues.

Like the Minister I welcome this motion proposed by Senator Norris and seconded by Senator Henry. It is an important motion and we should, as a sovereign independent State, have our own distinct and principled foreign policy. Consistently over the years we have adopted such an approach to our foreign policy.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Ireland's membership of the United Nations and it is true that we have a very proud record in that body where we have exercised an independent, outspoken, free voice at all times, especially on behalf of smaller nations.

It is essential that at all levels we should cherish and maintain our independence and our right to speak freely on issues of foreign policy. This can be positively achieved through our membership of both the European Union and the United Nations. We may not at all times be fully in agreement with the European Union. We should try at all times to present our separate and distinct views on issues.

In the United Nations many years ago Ireland played a major part in formulating the multilateral disarmament instrument, the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. I understand that is due for renewal next year and I hope we will be active in supporting its continuation.

In 1991, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev focused their attention on nuclear arms limitation and disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war. This was a positive move and was the first genuine effort by those two major powers.

The START Treaty, which was also signed in July of 1991 set ceilings on the production of these arms and was a positive development in providing for radical cuts. START II is awaiting implementation by the Russian Parliament, but it is of importance. People might say that the implementation of these treaties is outside our control but it is good to see some of the larger nations making progress toward nuclear disarmament.

Some weeks ago the world faced a potentially major international conflict between north Korea and the United States. The intervention at the time of former US President, Mr. Carter, helped to avoid what could have been a major nuclear war. This helps to highlight its ever present danger. Proper inspection and control of these weapons was never more important. We have to continue to oppose the build up and spread of these weapons of mass destruction.

The expenditure on arms and the build up of arms is a gross abuse of money that, in the main, comes from taxpayers throughout the world. The world spends about 1 per cent of its money on development aid whereas a much higher figure goes towards the production of arms. This highlights the outlandish policies of different Governments and the strength of the people producing these arms. They obviously have major lobbies in governments, particularly in the larger governments in Europe, the United States and throughout the world, where they lobby for production of and expenditure on arms. We must make every effort to curtail the production and sale of these arms.

The United Nations has been making efforts to control these arms. A register was established — and has been in operation for a year — dealing with the transparency of the sales of these arms, which will be of benefit. However, one of the categories excluded from this register is landmines. This was mentioned by Senator Norris and by the Minister. The injuries and deaths caused to civilians right across the areas where they are being used at present have already been described in detail. It is important that landmines are included on the register so that efforts can be made to prevent their continued proliferation. There is a vast waste of money at present on these weapons.

Regarding the second part of the motion, I welcome the Minister's remarks that the Government will have a distinctive role and policy on this matter. He mentioned that the Government will be seeking specific exclusions regarding the use of methods of birth control and in this respect advised that it would have a separate and distinctive approach towards abortion by endeavouring to ensure that abortion would not be used as a method of controlling population growth.

Some comments were made regarding the Church. There have many positive developments by the churches, and much good has derived from all of them regarding assistance to many of the poorer nations, where work was undertaken on a voluntary basis.

The motion as proposed is worthy of consideration and adoption by the House.

I welcome the Minister to the House. It is an appropriate evening for this debate to take place — just before the Director General of the United Nations Population Fund is to address the Overseas Development Aid Subcommittee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.

It is also appropriate to have this debate at a time when two members of the FBI have been assigned to a mission in Moscow in an attempt to control the Mafia and the export of armaments from the former Soviets of the former USSR to countries where the build up of arms could result in them being sold to nations which have the money to buy them but do not know how to use them.

Senator Norris suggested that statistics should not be used when addressing the subject of arms. However, statistics are useful in this respect. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute produced figures for 1992 which suggest that in the world in general, $921.5 billion was spent on armaments production. It is relevant to world peace to suggest that the nations which spent most of this sum were those on the UN Security Council, Russia, China, the USA, the UK and France, who spent $624.3 billion. In addition NATO member countries spent $89.3 billion, therefore, over $700 billion of this military spending took place in the NATO member countries and the five permanent member countries of the UN Security Council.

This is an atrocious figure and anyone who believes that this money is being spent on the military within these countries is a fool. The armaments produced in these countries are being sold throughout the world. There is not a conflict at present which is not supported by the production of arms in these countries, especially the USA, which in 1992 spent over half of the total spent on armaments production by the five permanent member countries of the UN Security Council.

There is not a country in the world in which there is conflict where it is not possible to find arms produced by so called civilised nations. Something must be done about this, and it is no good to advise that this country can sign a document which states that this issue will be policed. It will not be policed, as there is no way in which the arms companies will allow it.

There is a correlation between arms spending and the matters to be considered by the Cairo Conference on population control. Is population growth related to poverty, or is poverty related to population growth? This issue must be addressed, not only at the Cairo Conference, but everywhere else.

There was no problem with population growth in Africa when the Africans had Africa to themselves. It was the intrusion of the so called civilised nations of Europe into Africa which changed the social systems on that Continent and the international status of its countries. They also raped the Continent by attempting to introduce what they considered to be modern agriculture methods. In consequence, there has been a total desertification in northern Africa, and it is growing at an enormous rate.

Irrespective of the measures taken to depopulate the continent, the problems of desertification will continue, so we must put back into Africa what we took out. Luckily, the Irish did not take too much out, but we tried to change the social and religious fabric of the area and in doing so, we created problems.

A book was published in the recent past entitledGive them Bread, not Cake, and it appears that this is what is meant by those who address the issue of population control. It means let them starve a little bit slower than they are starving now. The people of the developed world, including Europeans, suggest that if the population is cut, those in the afflicted parts of the world will live a little better. It is pointless to blame the Vatican or the Muslim religion for this. Eliminating Muslims or Catholics, or the ethics of Roman Catholicism or the Muslim religion will not make any significant difference to the problems of these countries.

There must be a transference of resources from the northern to the southern world, and it must be ensured that in such a transfer, people can grow economically and socially and have a quality of life. The Cairo Conference will provide an opportunity for the international community to consider the broad issues of human population increase including the situation where such increase is inhibiting the life styles or the lives of the people who live in the affected regions.

There must be recognition that the problems should be addressed at national level. There is no point, as happened in the past, for the people from the rich western or northern world to tell the countries where there is a huge population increase that condoms will resolve their problems. Condoms will not resolve these problems. They might inhibit the growth of population, but this is pointless if the northern world is destabilising the affected economies, supplying armaments and changing the system of living.

The northern world goes into Rwanda where there is an attempted transfer from a rural society of cattle trade and growth to bringing people into the cities. It will not work, because the population will be eliminated and the country will become a desert, like other areas of Africa, as the people will not be there and the land will not be capable of being brought back into production.

The areas of the world where population increase is greatest are those where, generally, Europeans have raped and razed. There is not a tree left in India at present, because agriculture has changed dramatically.

There are trees in India. I have seen them.

The Senator has seen one tree. With regard to Asia and Africa, spending cycles on arms must be addressed and it must be ensured that whatever is undertaken in terms of population control is not done merely to control population. Controlling population is very easy. Senator Norris remarked that the gay community controls population by not having children. That is not an answer to the issue; it is a facetious reply to a serious argument proposed in the House this evening by the Senator.

I welcome the fact that this debate has taken place the evening before Dr. NafisSadik addresses the Overseas Development Aid Subcommittee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. Presumably as many Members as are in attendance this evening will be able to attend the meeting of the subcommittee tomorrow to listen to her views before the Cairo Conference.

Attempts should be made to try to force the member countries of NATO to eliminate the proliferation of arms in their countries. This House should also tell the five permanent member countries of the UN Security Council to stop this spending, because in doing so the House will have done the world a service.

I propose to share my time with Senator Lee.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is that agreed? Agreed.

The need for Ireland to develop a strong, independent and principled foreign policy is the subject of this motion. It is not sufficient, however, to develop a policy unless we can also pursue that policy and ensure that it comes to a satisfactory conclusion. Next week may provide and historic opportunity to take a step in that direction so let us not pass it up. For the first time in 27 years in Europe, and perhaps for the last time for many years to come, we have the chance of an Irish person becoming President of the European Commission yet we seem to be virtually indifferent to that possibility and are certainly not very aggressive in pursuing it. I am concerned that the historic dimension of this opportunity is not fully appreciated and I fear that future generations of Irish people will consider our lack of zeal as bizarre and perhaps even unforgiveable. I do not wish to mention individuals and, in speaking out as an Independent Senator, I wish to avoid adding to any partisan confrontation. We should put aside questions of personality and political partisanship, and consider only the national interest.

Three considerable benefits would flow through this country if an Irish person succeeded in becoming President of the European Commission. First, having an Irish person in such an influential position would further the interests of Ireland within the European Union. Let us not be in any doubt that Ireland would find it easier to get its point of view across in these very important matters if the Commission President was Irish. Second, the status and profile of Ireland would be raised considerably. For a country that depends so crucially on the outside world for trade and tourism, this would be a major benefit. Third, and perhaps most importantly, is the effect on our national morale. It would be an inspiration to our young people, to a new generation of young achievers, as well as being a source of pride to the entire nation. That is something that can unite us, so let us unite and push this matter forward in the ten days are left for us to do so.

MacSharry for president, I presume.

Hardly Doherty.

Nobody can possibly oppose a strong, independent and principled foreign policy. The problem arises in deciding what constitutes such a policy. What is a principled foreign policy in terms of the proliferation of arms? I agree with everything said by the proposer and seconder of the motion, but I strongly oppose the embargo on arms sales to the government of Bosnia. Where does that leave us in terms of principles? It is no coincidence that the states which imposed that embargo have suddenly begun to seek a real solution in Bosnia having learned of an inflow of arms from Iran to the government of Bosnia. That has helped greatly to concentrate their minds on the need for a rapid solution.

While one is in favour of principles, I am not sure that it gets us very far to remain at the level of cosmic reflection. I agree with Senator Norris about the horrors in East Timor. On the other hand, if one were proposing the proliferation of arms to East Timor to resist the tyrannies there, that would be a different matter. I want to draw attention to the problems involved in implementing principles because while we are all principled we happen to have different principles. The same applies even more emphatically in the area of population. We all have principles about what we conceive of as population policy but they are very varying principles. I stress the word "independent" also. What does an independent foreign policy in the area of population policy mean?

Any fool can be independent, but to be intelligently independent we must be adequately informed. Where do we get our information from on issues of population policy? We have virturally no thinking about any type of population policy in terms of the inter-relationship between population and economic development, or population and environmental issues. We have no third level department of population studies and though we may have one or two appointments in the area of population studies there is no professor of population studies.

I have enormous sympathy for our officials and politicians who have to try to formulate an independent policy, given the lack of support here for thinking about population matters. At best, we can be takers of other people's thinking. We may be intelligent takers of other people's thinking — and, in fact, the section on population in the Minister's address was a very good one — but it is clear from where the information is coming. It is also clear that it has not been processed through independent analysis here. Our officials and our Government need a much more systematic and sustained back-up in thinking about these matters than it can now get from our higher educational system or other areas. When one looks at the complexity of the issues now confronting policy makers at a global level, I think they are very badly served by the resources at their disposal.

Senator Norris referred to famine as an index of over-population, and most people would agree that is the case. However, when we look at famines whether in this country in the mid-19th century or in India much more recently, consensus interpretation is not necessarily that there was over-population, but that there was maldistribution of purchasing power in the area in which the famine occurred and frequently, food continued to be exported from those areas while people starved.

I indicated that in all cases there was a very rapid expansion of population. In fact, the Irish famine of 1847 was a classic example of precisely that.

A classic example of bull.

It was not. There is no necessary incompatibility between population increasing rapidly and there being sufficient food in an area when famine occurs. It is the social structure that largely determines that. I am not saying that rapid population growth cannot be a contributory factor in exacerbating problems but it cannot be a single-issue, simplistic interpretation of it. That is why the complexity of these issues has to be confronted here although our officials and politicians do not have the back-up that they deserve.

Where do we get our information on the bulk of international demographic developments? Much of it comes from international organisations like the United Nations or the OECD. In many cases the information is the best available but it is often surrounded by a penumbra of value judgments. For instance, there is a United Nations publication calledThe Progress of Nations. It is a worthwhile publication and I agree with a number of the value judgments that underlie its presentation, but they are value judgments and have not, as far as I know, been subjected to interrogation. They are not discussed at length but are presented as self-evident truths, and while they may well be truths for many of us, we should preserve our independence in evaluating them.

When I support the motion for an independent foreign policy I strongly suggest that we try to develop our intellectual independence in the first instance to give us a basis from which we can evaluate with confidence proposals coming from elsewhere, rather than regurgitating chunks of other people's thinking and presenting them as best we can at that moment.

I will be one of the chief culprits of Professor Lee's tirade in taking huge chunks from a source I was not able to research. I have not been able to travel the world to verify what I will say. Nevertheless, I hold it to be true and therefore have no hesitation in expressing it. I welcome this motion although it is unfortunate that the two issues are combined because each deserves separate debate in its own right.

I wish to concentrate mostly on part (b) of the motion. I have not doubt about the need for family planning in all areas of the world, particularly the developing world. I am glad to hear from the Minister's speech that Ireland has contributed the generous sum of £150,000 for the promotion of family planning in the developing world. When one contrasts this with the even more generous contribution of £300,000 for demining, one can put the whole issue into some kind of perspective. The amount we are providing to make one small area of Cambodia safe is double what we are providing for family planning, which is paltry by comparison as it must be spread throughout the whole of the developing world.

There can be no doubt that women are responsible for fetching most of the poor world's water, collecting most of its fuel, cooking its meals, cleaning its compounds, washing its clothes, shopping for its needs, looking after its old and its ill and bearing and caring for its children. Third World countries can produce their own food but have spent so much money, along with rich countries, on technology they do not need that they have to starve themselves to pay off their debts. It is mostly women who do the work in getting that cash together.

In Niger about 330 children per thousand live births die before the age of five. This means that a huge human resource goes to waste. The resource which women bring to this world is being wasted because they are not given the opportunity to space their children. Spaced children are happier and healthier children. If a mother has too many children, she is not able to replenish the vitamins and minerals in her body which she needs to pass on to her unborn children. Unless women, particularly in poor countries where nutrition is not high, have the ability to space their families, their children will be less healthy.

I wish to share the remainder of my time with Senator Maloney.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I make a plea to that country, which has experienced famine in its past, to do everything in its power to make sure that individuals in other less developed countries have the opportunities we now have.

I thank Senator Kelly for sharing her time with me. I welcome the motion tabled by Senator Norris. The establishment of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs is probably one of the better things which has happened in the Oireachtas. The Minister referred to this earlier. It gives Members an opportunity to find out from visitors and ambassadors from other countries what is happening in other areas of the world. We have a better opportunity today of knowing what is happening elsewhere.

The global threat posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of the arms trade is probably the most annoying and worrying threat for the world at present. Every country which has problems and in which a war is taking place seems to have massive numbers of arms. In Bosnia, Somalia and even Northern Ireland, it seems easy to obtain large amounts of arms. The countries which are supposed to be helping to stop this are the ones which are producing these arms. It is sad to see that this is the situation. These countries talk about doing something to stop wars throughout the world but are causing many of them.

Ireland has a great record of work within the UN in trying to solve problems. The UN has helped bring peace to many countries. Between 1945 and 1987 there were 23 UN peace-keeping operations. There have been 13 others since then. By January 1992 an estimated 528,000 military police and civilian personnel had served under the UN. Over 800 of them, from 43 countries, have died in the service of the UN. The aggregate cost of these operations has been $ 8.3 billion dollars. The unpaid arrears to these countries stand at over $ 800 million. This represents a debt by the UN to troop contributing countries. Ireland is owned about £12 million for peace-keeping operations. Such operations approved at present are estimated to cost close to £3 billion in a 12 month period while patterns of payment are unacceptably slow.

At the end of the 1980s global defence expenditure had approached $1 trillion a year or $2 million a minute. This was to bring peace throughout the world. It is a sad reflection on the countries involved in the wars occurring at present that it is so easy to get arms. These arms are imported by them and are used to kill and maim. We should do anything we can to try to stop this. The motion is timely. We are on the right road and it is important that we keep our voice raised at UN level to see that something is done to stop the proliferation of arms.

I support the motion, which is timely. I wish to raise two issues to illustrate the need for Ireland to have a strong, independent and principled foreign policy. The first has been raised here before, that is this country's approach to East Timor. The second is our approach to the sanctions on Cuba.

We must a have strong, independent voice and stance on the atrocities perpetrated by the Indonesian regime against the people of East Timor since it invaded that country in 1975. Ireland must use every forum to bring international pressure to bear on Indonesia to stop the genocide. Until recently there has been a conspiracy of silence by the Western world about the atrocities in that country. As a neutral nation we must take leadership, stand independently and, if necessary, take issue with some of our friends in the Western world. East Timor has had to endure the brutal killing of one third of its population. Men, women and children have been annihilated. Ireland must use every opportunity and available platform unreservedly to condemn the destruction of the nation and people of East Timor and the open support for the Indonesian Government by prominent, powerful nations throughout the world. These nations have continued a lucrative trade with Indonesia, including the sale of arms to its army by France, the US and the UK.

Australia has provided military training for the Indonesian army. These nations are accessories to genocide. We must speak out independently to stop such trade, which is really a trade in death. These arms have been used to kill and maim the Timorese people — to introduce a form of ethnic cleansing at its worst.

Ireland, as a contributor to peacekeeping in many parts of the world and a strong supporter of the UN, has a moral power which we should use to highlight and object to what is happening. A solution to the plight of the people of East Timor will not be forthcoming until international pressure forces an end to all trading with Indonesia and full economic sanctions are imposed, similar to those imposed on Iraq and which proved so successful in South Africa.

Indonesia became a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1991. It bears a special responsibility to implement recommendations specified in that body's statements and resolutions. Yet, with some minor exceptions, it has not done so. Indeed, it has indicated that it does not feel bound to abide by the provisions of those resolutions. I will leave the last words on East Timor to Amnesty International which stated:

When Governments pretend not to notice suffering, to whom can people like those of Indonesia and East Timor turn for help? The United Nations? Alas, the deeper you delve, the redder the faces. The cynicism ofrealpolitik extends even to the UN Commission on Human Rights, of which Indonesia is a member. When Amnesty attended the Commission in Geneva to urge action on Indonesia and East Timor we were met only with embarrassment. The Governments to which we spoke repeated what they have been promising us for 30 years, that they will pursue a policy of quiet diplomacy. They might as well go fishing.

Hear, hear; well said.

On Cuba Ireland should have a strong, independent and principled foreign policy in its opposition to the outdated US embargo on trade with Cuba. This Government should get off the fence and support the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/19 entitled "The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba".

There is no logical reason for continuing this embargo. The Soviet bloc has disintegrated, the Cold War is over and Russia is exploring the possibility of joining NATO. Why must the ordinary people of Cuba continue to suffer the effects of an outdated economic embargo by the US as a result of which conditions are very bad in Cuba. Everything is rationed and people have a boring, if just adequate, diet. Many have no soap or detergents and sometimes no medicines.

Ireland must take an independent stand on this. The UN General Assembly condemned the US blockade of Cuba and in 1993 the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the need to put an end to the blockade. On that occasion, 88 countries voted with Cuba against the blockade, four voted against Cuba and 57 abstained. Ireland abstained. We should get off the fence and vote with Cuba. Some of those who voted with Cuba for the removal of the blockade are our EU partners, so participation in EU co-operation on foreign policy is not a reason for abstaining on the vote.

The US blockade has been there for 32 years and during that time it stunted Cuba's growth. While there may have been a case for an embargo during the worst stages of the Cold War, there is no justification for its continuation in 1994. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Cuba's main trading partners fell apart. The former Soviet Union was its main trading partner up to that time. Cuba is isolated from potential Western trading partners because of pressure from the US. Will the Minister comment on how we will approach the next General Assembly vote on the removal of sanctions on Cuba, which I understand will take place before the end of this year?

There is obviously a great deal of interest in this debate and many Senators wish to speak. The Minister has also indicated that he would like to speak a second time, which is unusual in Private Members' Business but to which I think that the House will agree. Senator Norris also has five minutes in which to conclude. Does the House agree that the Minister can speak outside the two hours allocated for Private Members' Business? Agreed.

On a point of order, your suggestion, is extremely well made. Some of us have suggested that this might be adopted as a principle.

It is something which I would like to put to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges when we return after the recess in order to streamline Private Members' Business.

I also compliment you, on that decision, as very few debates have attracted such interest and diversity of contributions. There are three distinct elements to this motion, two of which I can support without hesitation. However, I have some reservations on the third element. Before dealing with the arms or population aspects, like Senator Quinn I will refer to the motion which proposes that Ireland should develop strong, independent and principled foreign policies. Of course, we should develop strong, independent and principled foreign policies. Could anybody in this or the other House argue that we should be unprincipled in any policy? I think not.

They have in this very House——

Or does any person argue that as a matter of principle we should be unprincipled? Perhaps yes in the darker recesses of Senator Norris' mind but not, I would suggest, in the bright light of reality.

——from the Government benches four years ago when I was told——

Senator Norris had his opportunity to speak and he will have an opportunity to reply.

Senator Norris should not allow his prejudices to destroy what has been an excellent debate.

We are dealing with population control. Maybe we should deal with decibel control from Senator Norris.

A little self control from Senator Norris would be more appropriate.

Senator Roche, without interruption. This is wasting time.

I hope any policy we adopt is principled, strong and independent. I agree with Senator Lee that all too often, we borrow policies from either the Foreign Office or Foggy Bottom, rejig them a little and then pass them off as Irish particularly so in any area of foreign affairs.

Several Senators have spoken about the situation in East Timor. Could our policy here be regarded as independent, strong or principled? It could not be regarded as any of those three things. It is obscene. We are prepared to sup with the people involved in genocide — people whom we call friends. Our Australian, British and EU friends are all guilty of genocide because they supply the arms which kill the people of East Timor. We do not have strong, independent or principled policies in this regard.

A few years ago, I remember having a colourful row with a party colleague on the situation of the Khmer Rouge — on which the Minister of State present supported me — which was at that time occupying in a most perverse way the seat in the United Nations which the UN had dedicated to the Cambodian people. Did we have the guts as a nation to say that this was an obscenity? We did not. We borrowed our policies from Foggy Bottom and the US State Department. We looked like idiots when the Americans did avolte-face on that policy. We should have been in the lead because we are a unique nation in that we are part of the developed world but are also among those who have been exploited.

On the arms trade, there can be very little doubt that this is the most unspeakable form of international commerce. It is bizarre that countries which regard themselves as developed engage in this business. The situation in conventional arms production has been exacerbated in recent years by the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet system. The destruction of the Warsaw Pact and the disintegration of the state economies of eastern Europe has led to prodigious amounts of arms being freely available to those who wish to engage in the international arms trade.

The demise of the Soviet bloc has not been the only contributory factor. The reality is that many of our neighbours, our partners in the EU, have well developed weaponry producing industries. The world's arms trade is supported by these nations. One of the extraordinary things which has happened since the end of the Cold War is that the peace dividend, which was promised, has been blighted by the massive off-loading of weaponry from both eastern and western nations into the stock pits of those who trade in this form of destruction.

Arms produced in neighbouring states, in EU member states, with whom we willingly consort, are used to slaughter people in other parts of this planet. It is important that we have an independent and strong policy and that when we see an obscenity we point to it. It does not matter whether it is a Bulgarian obscenity, a Romanian, a British obscenity——

——or a French obscenity.

——a French obscenity or a US obscenity, we should be prepared to stand our ground and say, "this is obscene".

I already referred to the genocide in East Timor. This is an area where we need a strong foreign policy. We need to be equally strong on what is happening in the other hot spots.

The second part of the motion deals with population. I paused — in the same terms expressed by Senator Lee — for some thought in this regard. Whenever I hear a politician, a statesman or an expert from the western developed world turn his or her attention to the issue of population, I listen carefully. All too often after the discussions and the agonising, they come to a conclusion that the growth of population in the Third World is a long-term threat to the planet. The conclusion may not be worded in such politically incorrect language, but, nonetheless, all too often that is the conclusion.

This form of Malthusian racist analysis sees the growth of population in the Third World as the basis of many of its problems and ultimately the planet's problems. This is an area where the developed world must tread very carefully. The developed world must acknowledge that many of the resource problems which exist in the Third World arise not from over-population but from over-exploitation. We must be honest and willing to recognise that the over-exploitation by and large has been the sin of the developed world. If there is a problem in the developing world, we have largely contributed to it; we the consumers and policy makers of the western world.

The EU creates and operates policies which are genocidal. We contribute to the maldistribution and the starvation, it is not because the men and women of Africa procreate and produce children. Our policies produce starvation and famine. I welcome the broad canvass which the Minister of State has adopted today. It is important that this conference does not have a small and narrow agenda; it must have a wide agenda. The western and the developed world must be prepared to dig deep because the problems of famine, malnutrition, ill health and disease are in no small way derived from policies which the developed world has operated in the past and continues to operate.

I welcome elements of the comments made by Senator Lee. It is clear that any policy on world population should not be the dictation of one culture to another, and I believe those who tabled the motion would agree with that. Any world policy on population should not be determined by a culture which has been exploitative and destructive throughout much of the history of mankind. Policy in this area must be informed by data which is not simply regurgitated chunks of somebody else's thinking or ideologies. I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Lee in that regard.

I have also read material circulated by the UN and to agencies on this area and I am less than happy with it. I do not believe a lot of the material has been value free; one cannot be value free in this area. All too often it seems the UN and its subsidiary agencies have an agenda other than that which is immediately apparent.

I am pleased to be able to contribute to this debate. Although I would like to contribute to both parts of the motion because of time constraints, I will concentrate on the second part. I also read the reportThe Progress of Nations, which I received this week from the Irish National Committee for UNICEF. I accept what Senator Lee said, that it is in itself flawed, but I believe the report accepts that.

I was taken by the introduction to the report which stated:

The day will come when the progress of nations will be judged not by their military or economic strength, nor by the splendour of their capital cities and public buildings, but by the well-being of their peoples: by their levels of health, nutrition and education; by their opportunities to earn a fair reward for their labours; by their ability to participate in the decisions that affect their lives; by the respect that is shown for their civil and political liberties; by the provision that is made for those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged; and by the protection that is afforded to the growing minds and bodies of their children.

These are sentiments which we would all endorse.

The report acknowledges that it is a flawed publication because it uses statistics to measure and compare national achievements in social developments. It said these are based on available statistics but that they may not show the whole truth. This may arise from the fact that the majority of countries produce economic data regularly, but few produce social statistics to show what percentage of their children are malnourished, suffer from preventable diseases or disabilities human progress. The report said it is essential that social statistics should also become the stuff of political debate, media coverage and public concern. I agree with that.

I was pleased to hear the Minister say that the Cairo conference will deal with population growth and other topics closely connected to it, including gender equality, the empowerment of women, population distribution, urbanisation, etc. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are important. If women participated at all levels of decision making throughout the world, we would have a different world.

I agree with the Minister when he said population policies are essentially a national responsibility but that they deserve the support of the international community. I welcome our support, however small, to the UN population fund. Education and awareness are important in these areas. One third of the world's population is under the age of 15. If each new couple decides to have only two children, enormous population growth will still occur. Because this is a country with a small population, which must be unique in that we now have less than half the population we had in the first half of the 19th century, our view on these matters can be coloured by our experience. While we may believe there is no problem elsewhere, World Bank figures indicate that when the world population eventually stabilises, it will be more than double today's figure. Almost all political leaders have agreed that family planning should be made available to all couples by the end of the century which is now less than six years away. Meeting that goal would bring immeasurable benefits to the lives of millions of women and children.

I agree with those Senators who said that we should not be lecturing to the developing world. As family planning methods are not freely available to women who are GMS patients in this country, we certainly are not in a position to lecture anybody. Having said that, we should be able to articulate our opinion and support policies which we believe are right.

At present less than 2 per cent of governmental spending in the developing world and less than 2 per cent of all international aid is devoted to family planning programmes. The size of military budgets and the amount of money devoted to arms is frightening. According to the reportThe Progress of Nations, which I accept can be flawed, an estimated 120 million people in the developing world do not want to have any more children but do not have access to modern methods of family planning.

If family planning services become universally available, it is accepted that the standard indicators of well being which are health, nutrition, education and progress for women, would show substantial improvements. Education is the key to everything and the availability and accessibility of information for women is of fundamental importance. Recent studies in 35 countries have shown the importance of knowing where to go for family planning services.

In countries where over one third of women give birth before the age of 18, only 50 per cent know of sources of family planning. In countries where less than 10 per cent of women give birth before the age of 18 the average is almost 97 per cent. The availability of family planning services is a great force for transforming the lives of women in the developing world. The number of children born to a woman has a fundamental impact on her health, energy, opportunities and on the future health and welfare of her children.

In an article inThe Progress of Nations Margaret Cately-Carlson mentions the benefits that could be expected if family planning was widely available. These include:

A 50 per cent decline in maternal deaths in the developing world if women who wish no further pregnancies had access to reliable methods of family planning. Half a million young women die every year from causes related to pregnancy and birth — more in India in a week than in Europe in an entire year.

A 30 per cent decline in child deaths — since most deaths under the age of five are the deaths of children born within two years of a previous birth or to mothers under 18 or over 35.

A new chance for young girls: very young mothers, under the age of 18, run three times the risk of death of mothers aged 20-29; very few of them are able to continue in school, or develop their potential.

A whole new pattern of family investment.... When women and families can devote their energies and resources to their existing children and to themselves, family nutrition and child care improve, and women have more time and energy to improve their own situations.

All of the indicators of well being would improve if women had access to family planning. Given the commitment of the world's political leaders at the 1990 world conference on children, I call on this Government to make a strong commitment to the policies which will be the subject of discussion at the international conference on population development in Cairo.

I wish to share my time with Senator Daly.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the opportunity to address this issue which has aroused great interest in the Seanad to the point that we do not have enough time and that is why I am happy to share my time with Senator Daly. The problems of the developing countries derive to a large extent from the inequity created by the developed countries in pursuing their own selfish priorities as distinct from the need for global justice and equity throughout the world. The scandal of arms proliferation has long been a major issue in the international arena.

The late distinguished Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank Aiken, devoted much of his time to making members of the United Nations aware of the scandal and to winning support for a strong and independent position, promoted by Ireland, against the spread of all arms, both nuclear and conventional. The era in which he lived was one in which the threat of nuclear destruction was a real one and the support which he received for the control of the spread of nuclear weapons has been one of the most significant achievements in Irish foreign policy.

With the collapse of international communism and the end of the Cold War which was a feature of the world order for over 40 years, the challenge today is the elimination of arms sales and supplies by the major powers, for their own profit, to warring factions in many of the developing countries throughout the world. These conflicts are in many ways the consequences of an era of colonial domination of these developing countries.

Tribal conflicts within areas that were designated as states or territories by the colonial powers have regrettably been a constant source of tension. We were not satisfied just to create the problem by designating territorial areas which have nothing to do with natural tribal distinctions. We then decided to fuel the conflicts by supplying arms to these warring factions in the most unprincipled example of selfishness that this universe has witnessed.

The Lomé convention was perhaps the only occasion on which former colonial powers entered into an era of co-operation. I was privileged to be one of three Irish Ministers for Foreign Affairs to be directly involved in that development between the European Community. The colonial powers created the problems and then fuelled the consequences of conflict.

The relationship which we, as developed countries, now have with developing countries seems to focus on the profit which can be made from them, particularly in the supply of arms from our major armament industry in Europe and elsewhere. These regional conflicts could not be sustained for any appreciable period were it not for the unprincipled and ruthless supply of armaments from the developing countries to the warring factions.

The profit was and is made by the armaments industries in the powerful nations. The price is still being paid today by the unfortunate people of the impoverished countries. For that reason, it is essential that there be a new regime of control, penalty and sanction on nations supplying arms to these impoverished nations which fuel internecine conflict and human suffering on a scale that is a scandalous indictment of the profit motive of the powerful developed countries.

This unprincipled profit motive has developed to a point that in some instances the same country is supplying different sides in these tribal conflicts. The world holds up its hands in horror at the consequences as if the problem derived from the regions of conflict themselves rather than from the greed and profit motive of those supplying the arms for their own narrow selfish purposes.

Ireland can and must take a lead role in proposing the strictest control and sanctions for the rich and powerful nations who supply arms to emerging countries to feed the profit motive of their own powerful armaments industries. Our voice must be constantly heard against the scandal, as it was in the time of Frank Aiken, until such time as such sanctions and penalties are imposed on those who feed off the tragedies of others. The young people of this generation whether they be in Africa, Asia or Europe have a right at least to expect that the world order we pass on is one based on equity and justice and not on selfishness and profit.

The international banking system which encourages numbered accounts and safe shelters for profit creamed off the suffering of unfortunate human beings oppressed by tyrants and dictators throughout the world must be controlled and regulated in the interest of world peace and justice. As long as oppressors and tyrants can hide their ill-gotten gains in the safe vaults of the western banking system, we will not only be tolerating man's inhumanity to man, we will be actively encouraging it.

There is an understandable tendency to examine population control in all its forms as a means of easing the poverty and suffering of those impoverished people. I agree but I wish powerful nations had the same commitment to dismantling the barriers of international trade which have long since limited the opportunities for normal development in these poorer countries. For instance the priority in the European Community for some time has been to maintain price levels as high as possible by limiting the supply of food and, in many cases, even reducing the capacity to supply much needed food to the starving people in the world.

It is impossible to rationalise a global policy which restricts production for the sake of maintaining price levels while countless millions are dying from malnutrition, and starvation. It must be possible for the international community of nations to find a better way of maintaining vital food supplies and, at the same time, ensuring an equity in the world order. This issue must also be addressed by the UN.

Enlightened family planning has a major part to play in this issue. Of itself it cannot and will not deal with the problems of ill health and poverty in impoverished countries. Sometimes the population control programmes even suggest abortion programmes to frustrate the normal function of the human condition in begetting and giving birth to the next generation of humanity. What right does this generation have, exclusively of all of the generations that have peopled the earth in the ever changing evolution of humanity, to determine that, for the first time, the unborn should have their lives terminated before they too can realise their right to life with dignity?

I welcome this opportunity to debate these issues and I hope that the views expressed and the enlightened statements made by the Minister will be heard confidently and consistently no matter what embarrassment it may cause our associates in the EU or elsewhere.

I hope we will have the opportunity to discuss this issue again in view of the forthcoming summit. We will have representation there and, hopefully, the Minister of State will have an opportunity to report back on what transpires. I had the opportunity to be present at the Rio summit and I recently received a copy of the "Agenda for Change"— a plain language version of "Agenda 21"— which I would suggest is compulsory reading for those interested in this area. It ought to be made available in schools and other educational institutions.

We might differ about the statistics in these UN publications but they give a clear indication of the present state of affairs. The world population in 1993 was about 5.5 billion; it is expected to be about 8 billion by 2020 and in the region of 10 billion by the year 2025. Development strategies must be put in place to deal with that projected increase. Development means alleviating poverty; securing livelihoods for people; ensuring that they have access to health care and a decent quality of life; improving the status of women; providing security of food supplies; and providing such essential services as water and sewerage; education and family welfare. Development also means creating and maintaining employment.

All these matters must be dealt with. I agree fully with the Minister of State in saying that they have to be tackled effectively and that that can only be done in a concerted international way. In the developing world, one person in three lacks safe drinking water and sanitation. The statistics are alarming; at least 15 million children a year die from preventable causes — acute infections and malnutrition. As we all know, young people in particular are vulnerable to drug abuse. Most women in developing countries lack the means to improve their health and face increasing levels of poverty.

Even with the development of vaccines it is alarming that millions of people in the world today still suffer from diseases such as polio, cholera, TB, leprosy and malaria. Many of these diseases are due to the lack of basic housing and water facilities. I saw this at first hand when, as Minister of State with responsibility for overseas development, I had the opportunity to visit some of the under developed countries. HIV is expected to infect 30 to 40 million people by the year 2000. More and more people are crowding into our cities. Urban development has outstripped society's capacity to deal with it.

With the increase in urban populations, it is estimated that by the year 2000 half of the world's population will be living in cities, and that the growing quantities of garbage and sewage will increase four to five fold by the year 2020. These are alarming statistics.

I do not have the time this evening to deal with the nuclear weapons issue but there is a danger of toxic waste and pollutants damaging our environment at a threatening and alarming pace. There is no international policy to deal with some of these issues at present and the result will be that we will have further battles. The battles will not involve arms or nuclear weapons but will involve food as we have seen, tragically, in the case of Somalia. This problem demands a huge international effort and certainly demands that we have more time at our disposal to discuss it further.

I thank Senator O'Kennedy for giving me the opportunity to speak on the motion.

I compliment Senators Norris and Henry for tabling this motion. Interestingly, we have heard a good deal of straight talking but we have also witnessed much side stepping and jigging and a certain inadequacy to address the issues directly. Normally I am complimentary of the Minister because, generally, he does a good job and I had hoped that when he came to the House this evening we would have had a specific statement of policy in relation to the population conference in Cairo. The Minister outlined the problems and the difficulties, and the responsibilities of the EU and the global community, but we have got nothing specific as to what the Irish position will be at this conference.

The Minister said that in 1992 the Development Council of the EU adopted the basic principles which Ireland fully supports. He went on to outline some of those principles, which are safe issues:

Non-coercion and non-discrimination, the observance of the rights of individuals and couples to choose the number and the spacing of their children; the need to integrate population policies and development policies, and attention to be paid to the needs of individuals, families and the wider community.

In his response I hope the Minister will outline specifically what proposals Ireland — on its own and not as part of the EU — will be putting forward at the conference in Cairo. We are shilly-shallying on this issue because of the concern we have for our own political skins in our respective constituencies,vis-à-vis the Catholic ethos on contraception and family planning. The Minister goes on to say that last year, for the first time, Ireland contributed £50,000 to the UN population fund and that in 1994 our contribution will be £150,000, moneys which will go toward family planning and awareness and education programmes. I would like to know specifically if the Government is prepared to back family planning programmes that will promote artificial family planning methods or just natural family planning.

We would like to know the specifics of what is proposed because it is not good enough to side step on this issue. It is time we stopped being childish and politically sensitive about a basic issue that affects many people. Many of us in this House will not reflect the realities of the majority of ordinary people. It is fine for the Minister to come to the House and talk on these issues but what about the reality of access to and the availability of contraceptives in the Third World? People must first be educated in family planning matters but they must then have access to contraceptives. I would like to hear the view the Department will express on that matter.

In relation to the issues of arms and nuclear proliferation the Minister is more detailed and specific. Politically he can afford to be; the issue is one about which Ireland can hold its head high. We do not manufacture arms and we do not supply arms to the Third World. Our record is clean so we can afford to take the moral high ground. We are, however, shy and afraid to speak on the other fundamental issue. Ireland should have a specific view and I hope the Minister will give it in his response to the various opinions that have been expressed.

There are approximately 200 million landmines hidden across the Third World, in the areas of greatest poverty in underdeveloped countries. While it takes $3-10 to buy a landmine, it takes $100-300 to remove it. It is a matter of fundamental human rights and an issue that must be addressed. The Minister raised it at EU level and other fora at which he spoke but it should be dealt with quickly. The poorest people are afraid to till and do basic work on their own lands because they fear that they will never return or require the amputation of a limb.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing me time to contribute. There is much more I would like to say and I hope I will have an opportunity to do so in the future.

I now call the Minister of State and Senator Norris will subsequently conclude the debate.

A Chathaoirligh, I thank you for making an exception in allowing me to respond.

You are in breach of Standing Orders, however, the House has agreed.

I appreciate that the House does not normally do this. However, issues were raised and questions put and to have a decent debate, it would be ridiculous not to respond. I thank you, a Chathaoirligh. It is a sensible decision and the House supports it.

Senator Quinn produced an issue out of the hat regarding the presidency of the European Commission. Perhaps I could dispose of it by telling the Senator that he must be under the mistaken impression that the Government has the right to produce a president of the Commission from a hat. That is simply far from the truth. No Irish name has the unanimous support of the European Union and I remind the House that this is required to become president of the European Commission. In today'sFinancial Times, I note that the British have produced seven names as possible candidates for the position, but there is no Irish name among them.

Perhaps I could set the Minister's mind at rest. This point arose because Senator Quinn had been reading "Finnegan's Wake" and he came across the phrase "suds for me and supper for you and the doctor's bill for Joe John", who I take to be John Major MP.

I thought for a moment that the Senator was going forward for the position himself.

I gratefully accept the nomination. My bags are packed.

The Senator appears to be an expert on everything. A number of issues were raised to which I wish to refer before I deal with the population aspect of the motion.

Senator Norris and others raised East Timor. He is aware that I have had an active involvement and interest in this matter and the whole area of human rights. The question of sanctions against Indonesia and arms supplies was raised. The Tánaiste told the House on April 20 that Ireland would not be in a position to introduce sanctions against Indonesia unilaterally. He pointed out that it would be a matter for the United Nations under Chapter VII of the charter or the European Union under Article 228(A) of the Treaty to impose sanctions. The House is no doubt aware that dialogue is currently taking place between Portugal and Indonesia under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. We do not believe that there would be sufficient agreement within the United Nations and the EU to impose sanctions.

However, I assure the House that the Tánaiste and I raise this issue at every possible opportunity, especially at EU level. I raised it on a number of occasions with my Portuguese counterpart. Concerns were also expressed when the Tánaiste addressed the House in April arising from the report that some EU member states were supplying arms to Indonesia. He indicated at that time his intention to take up the matter with the Governments concerned.

In relation to the embargo on Cuba, we felt the situation would be better addressed on a bilateral basis between Cuba and the United States, rather than as the subject of a public censure of a country with which we have close and important bilateral relations. It is time for relations between Cuba and the US to improve. We will examine any draft resolution put forward at the forthcoming UN General Assembly and decide our position in the light of circumstances. A sense of balance must always be maintained. We are aware that the Cuban Government has made a number of economic reforms, but, in the political sphere, it maintains its monopoly of power. There are disturbing reports from Amnesty International on the continuing human rights abuses. However, I appreciate the support for progress on this matter and I will monitor developments closely at the UN.

Senator Enright and others raised the question of the extension of the nuclear non proliferation treaty next year. As I indicated in my opening statement, the Government attaches great importance to this matter. It favours an indefinite and unconditional extension of the treaty. At the recent meeting of the European Council in Corfu, an EU joint action on preparation of the 1995 review and extension conference was agreed. The Government strongly supported this move. One of the priorities of our disarmament policy is to work for further strengthening of the non proliferation regime.

Senator Lanigan raised the subject of desertification. This important issue was addressed by the United Nations' conference on environmental development in 1992. Arising from that conference, international discussion has proceeded with a view to concluding an international convention to deal with the effect of desertification. An agreement on the text of the convention was recently reached, which will be open for signature later this year.

The debate on population was most helpful. It was supportive in the main of the Government position and showed an understanding of a most complex issue. In relation to Senator Norris's preliminary comments, I reiterate the importance of the conference in meeting the challenge arising from the rapid growth in population, particularly in developing countries. My speech is clear regarding the challenge facing us.

I agree with Senator Henry's view on the need to improve the status of women in developing countries. Women must be given access to training and education, which are crucial factors in ensuring equality. As the Senator correctly pointed out, I was Minister of State for Women's Affairs on my first visit to Tanzania, to oversee our bilateral programme. As I said to many Oireachtas Members, I was greatly impressed by the emphasis on equality and the role of women in the developing world in the programme. They are centrally involved in education, health and particularly agriculture. We place an emphasis on the promotion of the role of women in addressing many of the central areas. This is an important point and I support Senator Henry's views.

In relation to family planning, I mentioned our contribution to UN FPA, which provides assistance on request in the field of population, including family planning, awareness and education. Senator Taylor-Quinn was the only Senator who perhaps was critical.

Let us have the specifics, Minister.

I found a lack of understanding of the complexity of this issue. Many Senators pointed out the inter-linkage and interrelationship between population growth, poverty, to which Senators O'Kennedy and Lanigan referred, food supplies, water resources and the environment. These matters are covered in my opening statement. The facts are clear. Most Senators understand the relationship between these complex issues. I addressed the Seanad on that basis and I appreciate those Senators who recognised what I said. As Senator Henry pointed out, the broader agenda includes gender equality, empowerment of women and health. It has been an important debate and afforded me an opportunity to address the House.

When I talked about the important role we play in the European Union I referred to the 1992 development council of the European Community adopting basic principles and implementing guidelines for population programmes. The principles, which we support, are: non coercion and non discrimination; observance of the rights of individuals and couples to choose the numbers and spacing of their children; the need to integrate population policies and development policies; and attention to be paid to the needs of individuals, families and the wider community. We contribute at many fora but it must be obvious that it is important for us to have an input within the European Union. We have played our role there and I have outlined our position within that forum.

I hope the Seanad is better informed of our position prior to our participation in the Cairo conference. I appreciate the understanding of our policy that has been expressed.

I am grateful to the Minister for his two contributions and to Senators for their participation.

It is horrifying to realise that the three greatest arms suppliers to Indonesia are also the three greatest defaulters in contributing to the United Nations budget. They refuse to pay the bills for the peacekeeping forces provided so honourably by countries such as ours.

I was reminded about the problem of landmines when I was in a doctor's office in New York a few weeks ago. I speed read through an American Red Cross book — which I hope will become available here — on the subject. It was horrifying material. I can remember the argument but I cannot remember the exact figures. However, I remember reading in it that 27 per cent of Italy's exports are arms. The report also detailed the discovery that it is economically and strategically better to produce landmines that maim rather than kill because they represent such a drag on the population. That is a revolting morality. Even Sweden appears to be involved through the Nobel company. Imagine the irony of a group that produced the Nobel Foundation which awards prizes for peace also manufacturing these landmines.

In less than 30 years the population of the planet will be five times what it was when the century began and 95 per cent of this growth is in developing countries. That is a problem. It does not mean we will be patronising to these people. Nobody here has been patronising. However, it means that we must be careful. The population of the world was 2.5 billion in 1950, it was 5 billion in 1987 and will pass 6 billion by the end of the century.

I referred earlier to the article by Professor McNulty, professor of food and agricultural engineering at University College Dublin. He started his article by saying that in 1984-85 people were shocked by the fact that there was a famine in Ethiopia while the granaries of Europe were full. Everybody assumed it was possible to feed the world. However, the professor began to realise that there was a serious imbalance between our capacity for food production and the enormous geometric increase in global population. He makes a very sensitive plea to the Irish Government on the question of world population.

The international conference on population and development which will be held in Cairo from 5 to 13 September was set up under the ECOSOC resolution 1989/1991 in 1989. In 1974 at the world population conference many of the underdeveloped or developing countries believed that development was the best contraceptive. However, by the next conference in 1984 these developing countries, which we were urged not to patronise, had come to the conclusion that family planning programmes to support and improve maternal and child health and reduce population growth were essential. The conference in Cairo represents the next step in this process. That is why it is so important. People from developing countries as well as those from developed countries recognise that the process of sustainable development is made much more difficult, if not impossible, by the high rates of population growth which prevail when family planning services are not widely available.

Nobody disputes the fact that people born in the west do far more ecological damage because of their high consumption. However, that does not mean that we can idly sit by and encourage people in developing countries to put themselves under threat of famine. We know there will be famine. I ask those people who quote slogans — what will they feed people in developing countries with? Will they feed them with editorials from theSunday Business Post?

There were three preparatory conferences before the Cairo conference. The most important was PrepCom III to agree the final ICPD document. The draft document was the result of input by experts, governments and a series of United Nations meetings. After protracted negotiation the vast majority of countries supported and approved the document, while a few countries headed by the Vatican which has member state status in the UN — I do not think it is entitled to that status — did not agree on certain definitions. Consensus could not be reached on several areas including sexual and reproductive health, family planning, fertility regulation, safe motherhood, elimination of unsafe abortion and the reproductive and sexual health needs of adolescents. Considering the Vatican's record in these areas any international body that took heed of the position of that unrepresentative and undemocratic group would be very foolish. I make no apology for saying that it is right and appropriate that an international body should look for the elimination of unsafe abortion. What does the Vatican want? Unsafe backstreet abortion to punish people? We had that in this country and we do not need it any more.

There has been consistent lobbying at a high level by the Vatican and it has been able to influence the positions of some members countries, particularly Latin American countries such as Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Honduras and Benin.

I presume you mean safe for the aborted foetus as well.

The Vatican condemns——

The Senator's time is up.

In that case Senator O'Kennedy's time is also up.

What does the Senator mean by safe?

I will not withdraw from my position on these issues. The Vatican is an unrepresentative state or statelet and it is making dangerous moves in this area which I hope will be resisted internationally at meetings such as the Cairo conference. I am glad the Minister has taken a medium position on this. I may be regarded by Senator O'Kennedy as an extremist but——

No, I just want the Senator to explain what is a safe abortion. Safe for whom?

The Senator can comfort himself with the fact that the Government has taken what even he must regard as a moderate position.

Safe for the person who is aborted?

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to sit again?

It is proposed to sit again at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 7 July 1994.