Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Ceisteanna (44)

Róisín Shortall


44. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a report on the Syrian conflict (details supplied); his views on the recommendations of the report; if, in view of the report's contents, he will reiterate his concerns about Russian involvement in the conflict with the diplomatic mission here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41150/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am all too aware of the awful human suffering caused by the Syria conflict. There has clearly been a pattern of deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Syrian regime and its allies, as we saw in Eastern Ghouta earlier this year. These acts are reprehensible and in direct contravention of international humanitarian law and I have made my views clear in this House and in various international fora. Atrocities have also been committed by groups such as ISIS in the course of this conflict, and my condemnation of those acts is also on record.

Russia is in no doubt of Ireland’s position: our concerns have been raised with the Russian authorities directly on numerous occasions at Ministerial and official level. Last October, I met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov and reiterated that Ireland condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the use of chemical weapons. I also called on Russia to ensure civilians are protected, and to exert its influence on other parties to the conflict to do the same. I, and my officials, will continue to raise our concerns with the Russian authorities, at every appropriate opportunity.

In relation to the recommendations in the report to which the Deputy refers, key themes are accountability and effective multilateral action.

Ireland has consistently called for the referral of the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. We take every appropriate opportunity to speak out against human rights abuses in Syria in UN and other international fora. At the last meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2018, Ireland co-sponsored a resolution on the human rights situation in Syria which condemned the continued and deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, the denial and diversion of humanitarian aid and medical assistance, and the use of starve or surrender tactics that we have repeatedly seen in Syria.

Ireland and the EU also provide political and financial support to a broad range of measures which aim to ensure full legal accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria. For example, we are supportive of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria established by the UN Human Rights Council. In 2017, Ireland provided €100,000 in financial support to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) established by the UN General Assembly. The IIIM aims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Syria.

In addition to our core contributions to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ireland has contributed €200,000 specifically to the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mission to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria. In June 2018, Ireland co-sponsored the decision adopted by the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention introducing an attribution mechanism to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and elsewhere.

In addition, Ireland has consistently supported EU sanctions targeting the Assad regime and its supporters, and will continue to do so as long as the situation on the ground justifies these measures.

Ireland and the EU firmly believe that there can be no military solution to the Syria crisis and support the UN-led efforts to bring about a comprehensive, sustainable and inclusive resolution of the crisis.