Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Questions (93)

Niall Collins


93. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has formally sought the publication of a database (details supplied); if not, if he plans to seek publication of same; if not, the reason therefore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25742/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

In March 2016, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 31/36, calling upon the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce a database of all business enterprises involved in activities relating to Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territory.

The EU and its Member States, including Ireland, are wholly opposed to Israeli settlements in Palestine, which are contrary to international law, and are damaging to the prospects of peace. However, we believe that action against settlements must be both lawful and well-considered, since actions which are not fully thought-through risk ultimately being unwound, thereby undermining the cause they aim to support.

In this case, the terms of the Resolution as adopted by the UN Human Rights Council were so broad that a list draw on up pursuant to it might well include businesses with only tenuous or inadvertent connections with settlements. Any ambiguity about could potentially lead to unfair and counter-productive outcomes.

The EU members of the HRC therefore abstained in the vote on the Resolution. Despite these reservations, Ireland of course assured the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that we would cooperate with any request for assistance in the task they had been assigned.

In March 2019, the High Commissioner for Human Rights reaffirmed her commitment to discharging the mandate given her under Resolution 31/36 and explained that she needed more time to fully respond to the Council’s request as the mandate was novel and complex. Ireland notes the High Commissioner’s commitment to discharge the mandate of the HRC resolution 31/36 in a legally, factually and methodological sound manner.

Ireland has always sought to protect the independence of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. We have not supported any efforts to delay or prevent publication of this database. Nor do we believe it would be appropriate to attempt to influence the High Commissioner’s decision on when she considers the database ready for publication.

The Government is committed to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and in November 2017 published its National Plan on Business and Human Rights 2017-2020. Implementation of this plan is a priority for the Government over the coming years, with the objective of promoting responsible business practice at home and abroad.