Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (148)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

148. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the level of engagement he has with programme country governments funded by Ireland through Irish Aid, to establish the effectiveness of those countries practices and legal procedures which uphold basic human rights and dignity, promote equality and afford the protection of the state to the individual; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12895/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Ireland works in nine Programme Countries mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and all our aid programmes are targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable. Regular dialogue is an essential part of the work of our Embassies in their engagement with partner Governments. The promotion and protection of human rights, equitable development and the eradication of poverty are important components of this dialogue.

Our engagement is undertaken both bilaterally as well as jointly with other diplomatic missions, especially resident EU missions. It includes meetings at the highest level, such as with the Head of State, Government Ministers and the Legislature, on a wide range of issues - political, economic and development. Engagement also takes place through the various aid coordination mechanisms established at national and local level to oversee the implementation of development programmes funded by Ireland and other development partners. Continuous assessments on governance conditions in our Programme Countries, including respect for human rights, are a part of this engagement.

As well as monitoring progress, we also actively support the promotion of human rights and equality in our Programme Countries in a number of important ways. This includes assistance to partner Governments in their work to eradicate poverty and promote and protect human rights, gender equality and the rule of law. We support oversight institutions such as National Human Rights Institutions and Ombudsmen, as well as non-governmental organisations and others to advance human rights and equality, especially for the most vulnerable. We also support national Parliaments, which are the cornerstone of democracy and good governance.

Ireland’s current membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council provides a further opportunity to play a vibrant role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide, including in our programme countries. We remain committed to a strong multilateral human rights system which can impartially monitor the implementation of human rights norms. In particular, Ireland is championing the UN Universal Periodic Review mechanism which reviews all member states’ human rights records.

At the European Union level too, Ireland is playing a full and active part in ensuring human rights are advanced in our Programme Countries. Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union reaffirmed the EU’s determination to promote human rights and democracy through all its external actions. Ireland, together with other EU Member States and the European Commission, agreed an EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy last year. By working together effectively in promoting human rights, we believe our impact will be greater.

Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 145.