UN seat result of Tánaiste's constant close work with diplomatic service


ANALYSIS:Ireland’s victory in yesterday’s election to the United Nations Human Rights Council was the culmination of a campaign going back to the council’s inception six years ago.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore personally oversaw efforts from the Department of Foreign Affairs, co-ordinating closely with diplomatic missions around the world, particularly with Ambassador Anne Anderson, Ireland’s permanent representative to the UN in New York.

Ireland’s election “means the huge majority of 193 member states of the UN value and recognise Ireland’s role in human rights”, Mr Gilmore said. Ireland won 124 votes, only seven fewer than the US and three fewer than Germany.

The victory was regarded as the most important since Ireland gained a temporary seat on the Security Council in 2000 and marked the first such success since the financial crisis. “It’s a very strong endorsement of our reputation internationally,” Mr Gilmore said. “Our reputation had suffered damage as a result of what happened in the economy.”

‘A great tribute’

Mr Gilmore said the result was “a great tribute to the work of our diplomatic service” because Ireland has far fewer resources than, for example, the US or Germany. Ireland’s ambassadors talked to foreign ministries in the countries where they are posted. “Our Ambassador to the UN, Anne Anderson, did a tremendous job,” he said.

Ms Anderson, a veteran of 40 years in Irish diplomacy, chaired the predecessor body, the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, in 1999. “We have kept faith with the United Nations for more than 50 years, and this is the United Nations membership keeping faith with Ireland,” she said.

Relentless effort

Mr Gilmore brought Ireland’s candidacy up in every bi-lateral meeting with other foreign ministers; in the European Union, as chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe this year; and at the UN itself, where he sought out counterparts during September’s General Assembly.

Ireland’s competitors exerted the full weight of their influence in recent days, with the German foreign minister hosting a reception in New York and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton personally calling foreign ministers and ambassadors to urge them to vote for the US.

Mr Gilmore and Ms Anderson continued to work the phones throughout Friday evening. As part of her effort to familiarise UN ambassadors with Ireland, Ms Anderson invited 20 permanent representatives to see the Broadway production of the Irish musical Once late last spring. She organised a reception, which the Tánaiste was to have attended, but it had to be postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. Some 130 people, representing more than 100 countries, attended the reception on November 5th, where Bono was the star speaker.

“He spoke absolutely from the heart, about Irish values, our history, our presence around the world, the work in Africa in particular. He recalled Mary Robinson’s time as high commissioner for human rights. He said we are a very small country. We live by our ideas. We live by our values and we try to be open-hearted and generous-spirited; that’s who we are.”

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