Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (372)

Barry Cowen

Question:

372. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether Irish Aid should open its election observation roster to applications at any time to bring it in line with opportunities on the rapid response roster (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7214/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs enables participation in a range of overseas deployment opportunities for suitably qualified and vetted volunteers, typically involving placement with, or by, third party organisations,facilitated by the Department through a range of rosters, registers, initiatives and programmes, including the Election Observation Roster and the Rapid Response Corps.

The current Election Observation Roster of volunteers for nomination to EU and/or OSCE election observation missions was established effective as of 1 January 2019 for five years. There are approximately 200 members of the roster selected through a competitive process and appropriately vetted. The five year lifetime of the roster allows volunteer members to anticipate potentially being accepted, upon nomination to the EU or the OSCE, for at least one observation mission during the lifetime of the roster. Reducing the duration of the roster to less than the advertised five years could deprive existing volunteer members of an opportunity to observe a mission, while the additional administrative and other overheads of more regular musters of volunteers would be a consideration also.

The Rapid Response Corps is roster of experts available to deploy at short notice under the UN Standby Partnership Programme in response to severe, sudden-onset crises and emergencies. The specialist nature of the Rapid Response Corps means it has a different remit and is not analogous to the volunteer election roster. As outlined in response to Parliamentary Question No. 329 of 3 February 2021, this Department expects to launch the next recruitment campaign to that roster in 2022. The last such recruitment took place in 2018. The timing of recruitment campaigns is to ensure that the skills of Rapid Response Corps members are aligned with the skills demanded by UN agencies within the Standby Partnership Programme, which can vary periodically.

Questions Nos. 373 to 375, inclusive, answered with Question No. 357.