On 1 January this year Ireland assumed its year-long chairmanship-in-office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Comprising 56 participating states in Europe, Central Asia and North America, the OSCE is the world's largest intergovernmental regional security organisation, dealing with a range of issues in the areas of democratisation, human rights, arms control and economic and environmental security.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I will be the chairperson-in-office for the duration of our chairmanship and will bear overall responsibility for the executive action of the organisation and the co-ordination of its activities. These responsibilities include representing the OSCE in various contexts and supervising activities relating to conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation. I presented our chairmanship priorities to the OSCE's Permanent Council in Vienna on 12 January and have also addressed the United Nations Security Council in my capacity as chairperson-in-office.
Ireland was approached in the course of 2009 by a number of states which expressed interest in Ireland assuming the chairmanship of the OSCE for 2012. That was unanimously agreed at a meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Athens in December 2009. My officials have been working on preparations for the OSCE chairmanship since the decision was made. To this end, a dedicated OSCE task force was established within my Department in October 2010 to develop the policy framework and practical capacity required for the chairmanship and the diverse range of meetings and conferences in Vienna and elsewhere. This comprises a total of 12 Dublin-based officials, with 14 officials working at Ireland's OSCE mission in Vienna. This total is less than the resources allocated by any other country which recently held the OSCE chairmanship; I am confident, however, that Ireland's chairmanship will involve a highly efficient use of these resources and compare favourably with past chairmanships.
Regular consultations take place with officials from other Departments who will also contribute relevant expertise over the course of Ireland's chairmanship. I am keen to ensure all Departments are in a position to contribute to and gain from our chairmanship. I hope our chairmanship will also be helpful in terms of the Government's economic objectives. To this end the State agencies have also been consulted as part of our preparations.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House.
As part of last year's preparations, Ireland joined the OSCE troika with the 2011 chair of the organisation, Lithuania, and the previous chair, Kazakhstan. Ireland continues to participate in the troika this year, with Kazakhstan having been replaced by Ukraine, the 2013 chair. Weekly troika meetings take place at OSCE headquarters in Vienna.
Ireland was one of the founding states of the OSCE and we have always recognised the organisation's vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe. I am honoured to chair the OSCE this year and greatly look forward to using this role to raise the profile of Ireland, thereby contributing to the restoration of our international reputation.