Mission Newsletters
April Newsletter: Ireland at the UN (New York)
                                                       @IrishMissionUN

Development

Intergovernmental discussions continue at the UN on producing sustainable development goals to feed into the new post-2015 global development framework, successor to the existing MDGs. Ireland is playing an active role in these discussions as part of a team with Denmark and Norway.

Minister of State Joe Costello was a panellist at a recent high-level UN event on the contribution of women, young people and civil society to the post-2015 development agenda. In his interventions, available here, the Minister highlighted the need for broad engagement with these crucial stakeholders and for priority to be accorded to full participation and leadership of women and the protection of space for civil society in crafting the new post-2015 framework.

Continuing the theme of engagement and participation, Minister Costello launched the interactive Work With Us exhibition at UN headquarters (view it here). The Institute for Development Studies (University of Sussex), with the support of Irish Aid, has captured unfiltered the voices of people in 29 different countries most affected by poverty and exclusion, in an effort to better inform and to influence global development decision-making. Colleagues from Asian and Latin American states and the UN system are in follow-up discussions to sponsor similar participatory research.

Food and Nutrition Security is one of Ireland’s priorities within the broad post-2015 agenda. HQ and PMUN actively participated in a recent high-level Roundtable on ‘Food & Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda’. As an outcome of the two-day event, a cross-section of member states, NGOs, the private sector and UN agencies has called for a standalone post-2015 goal on sustainable agriculture and food & nutrition security, to include seven specific targets. 

On Sustainable Development Financing, Ireland was warmly thanked for providing crucial funding that will allow the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts to convene consultations with stakeholders in Addis Ababa. These consultations will contribute to informing options to mobilise and effectively use financial resources to achieve sustainable development objectives. 

Human Rights

Ireland actively engaged in the Commission on the Status of Women, an annual two-week meeting in March that brings together all member states - nearly 100 of them this year at Ministerial level - and some 6,000 members of civil society.

The focus of CSW58 was on challenges and achievements in implementing the MDGs for women and girls. The strong conclusions in the agreed outcome document ( here) call for a standalone post-2015 development goal on gender issues and for gender to be mainstreamed through the targets and indicators of all goals. The conclusions also reaffirm existing international commitments on gender equality; hold that women's empowerment and human rights are instrumental for achieving development goals; and emphasise women's equal access to employment and resources and their full participation in decision-making.

Ireland’s role in CSW included negotiating on behalf of the EU on the sensitive resolution on women, the girl child and HIV / AIDS, with references to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ireland also hosted side events, including an event on the obstacles to equal treatment faced by women in political life, chaired by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton and featuring Nicole Ameline, the Head of CEDAW (the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women); a meeting on ending school-related Gender Based Violence, chaired by Ambassador David Donoghue; and an event looking at the role of the media in the objectification of women and the attitudinal link to sex-trafficking.   

PMUN also hosted a donor and civil society roundtable discussion on the gender pillar of Sierra Leone’s Agenda for Prosperity. The platform to highlight the progress made by Sierra Leone in addressing issues of gender inequality and women’s empowerment was also a good opportunity to draw attention to the strong partnership between Sierra Leone and Ireland, as lead donor on gender policy engagement and donor coordination in the country.  

One of the many civil society groups that PMUN met with during CSW was the Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, whom we introduced to UN Women who should be a useful partner in promoting issues around women, peace and security in Northern Ireland.

Peace and Security

On 2 April the Arms Trade Treaty moved a significant step closer to coming into force. Ireland was one of 18 member states to deposit their instrument of ratification with the UN, bringing the total number so far to 31. 50 member states are expected to have ratified by the end of this year, bringing the ATT into force and thwarting the uncontrolled flow of illegal arms to conflict regions.

 

February Newsletter: Ireland at the UN

@IrishMissionUN

Development

Intergovernmental discussions are underway at the UN as part of a process which will culminate in the announcement of a new global development framework at a summit likely to be held in September 2015. This post-2015 development agenda will be the successor to the existing eight Millennium Development Goals and will include new sustainable developments goals. Ireland is participating in the current process in a team alongside Denmark and Norway.

Minister of State Joe Costello led for Ireland-Denmark-Norway in a discussion on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment which was held on 5 February as part of this process. In his statement Minister Costello called for “an ambitious goal on gender equality as well as its effective mainstreaming across all other goals, targets and indicators to reflect the renewed commitment to dismantle the structural underpinnings of gender inequality, transform gender relations and effect positive change in the lives of all women and girls”. The Minister also participated in a side event and engaged in outreach to women-led civil society groups.

Separately, Ireland was recently elected to the five-member Bureau of UNDP’s Executive Board for 2014. UNDP is the UN’s $7 billion global development programme, working in 177 countries to reduce poverty and promote social development. At a recent Board meeting, Ambassador Donoghue said that a focus of UNDP’s energies should be supporting member states to achieve the current MDGs and to sustain progress beyond 2015.      

And at a recent meeting of UNICEF’s Executive Board, Ireland intervened on behalf of a group including Estonia, Luxembourg, Switzerland and New Zealand to highlight the unacceptable gap that has left two-thirds of children living with HIV without treatment, and to urge the UN to do more to ensure that children have access to the services they need. 

Peace and security

In January Ambassador Donoghue chaired an important peacekeeping body, steering difficult negotiations to a successful conclusion. In a policy breakthrough at the working group on Contingent-Owned Equipment, agreement was reached under which the UN for the first time accepts some responsibility for assisting troop contributors in rotating their equipment. Ireland is the fifth largest EU troop contributor to the UN, with 359 peacekeepers deployed on UN missions (347 troops and 12 police).    

Ireland made two statements at the Security Council in the past couple of weeks. Ireland’s statement at the debate on enhancing post-conflict reconciliation efforts described the progress in the peace process in Northern Ireland and called for the UN to take a more integrated approach to reconciliation – involving peacebuilding, development, human rights and governance – and to make a more concerted effort to capture and share lessons and best practice from different conflict settings.  

Ireland’s statement at the open debate on enhancing the protection of civilians in conflict highlighted how more credible UN missions - with peacekeepers not only able but willing to perform their duties – can more effectively protect civilians, as we saw in eastern DRC last year. With small arms the weapon of choice in many conflicts, early entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty should help to staunch the flow of arms, while the weapons and ammunition decommissioning work of the UN mine action service UNMAS was also acknowledged.    

Human Rights

Ireland has been actively engaged in the two-year-long intergovernmental negotiations process to strengthen the UN human rights treaty body system, negotiations that were brought to a successful conclusion recently. The workload on the ten UN human rights treaty bodies - which monitor implementation by States of their human rights obligations such as eliminating racial discrimination, eliminating discrimination against women, or upholding the rights of persons with disabilities - has grown exponentially over the past decade. The recent agreement should help to find efficiencies in documentation and translation, provide significant additional meeting time for bodies and help OHCHR to increase its capacity-building assistance to member states to enable them to meet their obligations under the treaties. Ireland contributed to the positive outcome through its engagement within the EU and more broadly across the UN, with civil society and with the treaty bodies themselves, including on core elements of the text such as the sustainable resourcing model.

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Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations,
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