I thank members for the contributions. I will be going to Busan with my backbone highly strengthened by the contribution of this committee. I will lead from the front as we are rightly proud of this country's long-established work in this area, which has been achieved with the support of the Parliament and public. I understand we are in these times of real hardship. It is important that we are plain and honest about how we spend our money. Therefore, the visit the committee made recently to Ethiopia, and indeed other visits by other members with the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa, AWEPA, for example, means members are returning to Ireland with first hand information about the communities they visit. That is vital.
In terms of communications, one can see the contrast between Tigre and the areas the members visited in Ethiopia that were subject to famine in the past, leading to those dreadful scenes on television. In those parts of Ethiopia now, which have the same climatic conditions as parts of Somalia, development is actually working and shown to be working. One can point directly to the fact that it does work when one sees that and, very sadly, the scenes we still see in Somalia. Somalia is an area of conflict and while there is some development work, it is very difficult to get in there and do that work. We are bringing a positive message that development works, which is extremely important.
There is another element. I am trying to pull the strands of the visit together, as well as the points made by the Deputies. As a result of the reputation Ireland has in these countries, one gets access at the highest levels so one is able to raise issues relating to civil society, human rights and so forth. I was able to do that in Malawi. One is also listened to. One might not see immediate results but I believe it makes a difference, which is very important. This morning I met with representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions who were raising issues about decent work and its importance from the civil society perspective in various countries. The NGOs constantly raise these issues as well. I believe we can make a difference by all of us working together, raising these issues and using our voice. I realise there are difficulties in this regard, particularly the squeezing of the NGOs. I met them in Malawi and the committee members met them in Ethiopia. We must constantly raise our voice and I believe we make a difference in that regard.
I will try to answer the different questions together. Deputy Byrne, Deputy O'Sullivan and others raised the issue of what we call new donors, China and other donors, and their engagement with Africa. We have no intention of watering down our standards, either at Busan or elsewhere, in terms of human rights standards, situations at work and so forth, and the relationship we have with our partner countries. That is not at issue but what we are trying to do is influence other countries that might not have subscribed in the past to agreements, standards and so forth. We want to get them to at least subscribe to certain basic standards, which is what we want to achieve in Busan. The Korean Government and the people who are organising the forum are also working in that regard. That is what I mean when I say it would be a real win to engage those countries, to ensure we can influence them. The issue of China was raised when I was in Africa. These issues are interconnected, but it is about using our influence, not watering down our standards in any way.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl and others raised the issue of working in conflict areas. There is a conflict resolution unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and wherever we are working we engage with and support conflict resolution. We have our own experience in that regard as well. We work in fragile states and areas of conflict.
Climate change, which was also raised by Deputy Ó Fearghaíl and others, is a hugely important issue for all of us. We are working on issues such as conservation agriculture, improving agricultural productivity and mitigating against climate change. That will continue to be a very important issue for us. It is also an important issue in Busan.
Deputy Murphy raised three issues on behalf of Dóchas and others. We have been working closely with Dóchas and the NGOs in the preparation for Busan and in working on the document. They will be working with us in Busan. I can say "Yes" to all the issues raised; they are all very important. The involvement of the NGOs in that regard will continue.
Deputy O'Sullivan raised a couple of other matters, including our commitment to AIDS. We are meeting our obligations in that regard and the commitments that were made. It is approximately €100 million per year, and it is one of the four core areas for Irish Aid. That is a central issue. I believe I responded to the other matters the Deputy raised. On the question of meeting other African parliamentarians, I will take those opportunities.
Senator Walsh and others raised the issue of trade. Again, it is obvious that because we have a good reputation in Africa generally, it assists us with regard to trade. I recently led a trade mission to South Africa, and how well Ireland is recognised for its development work in Africa was raised with us many times. We carry out development work in South Africa as well, but it is also close to many of our programme countries. When I was there I took the opportunity to meet with our ambassadors to five of our programme countries that are close to South Africa. We discussed how we can advance trading opportunities as well as the development work that is done in those countries. The Africa strategy is there to ensure that we pull together the various strands of our work in Africa.
On Senator Walsh's concerns about abortion, Ireland has made its position on abortion clear at the United Nations. That is Ireland's position.