Flanagan tells UN it must review its failure to prevent war

Assertive leadership ‘has never been as critical’, Ministers tells UN General Assembly

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan  has said the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals, negotiations for which were co-chaired by Ireland’s permanent representative to the UN, were a “tangible manifestation” of the UN’s capacity to deliver “positive outcomes”. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals, negotiations for which were co-chaired by Ireland’s permanent representative to the UN, were a “tangible manifestation” of the UN’s capacity to deliver “positive outcomes”. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The UN must use its 70th anniversary to appraise the international community’s failures to prevent war, genocide, forced displacement and deprivation, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has said.

In his address to the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Flanagan said the world faced “unprecedented challenges” in confronting savage violence perpetrated by well-resourced non-state groups as well as states, resulting in humanitarian catastrophes in many parts of the world.

“Strong and assertive leadership by the UN has never been as critical, and I know the UN and its members can live up to this great challenge,” said.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Minister pointed to the recently agreed Sustainable Development Goals, negotiations for which were co-chaired by Ireland’s permanent representative to the UN David Donoghue, as a “tangible manifestation” of the UN’s capacity to deliver “positive outcomes”.

Referring to Europe’s migrant crisis, Mr Flanagan said it posed “an enormous challenge for Europe” and was “a disaster which requires the close collaboration of the international community”.

On Wednesday, Irishman Peter Sutherland, UN special representative of the secretary general for international migration, called in his address to the UN General Assembly for “smarter international co-operation”, saying too many countries were acting on their own to address the challenges posed by migration.

‘Global catastrophe’

The Minister, in his address, urged countries to work with Mr Sutherland on the resolution of this “global catastrophe”.

In response to the crisis, Ireland has agreed to take in 4,000 migrants fleeing Syria and other war-torn parts of the Middle East - a figure criticised by some as too low.

Paying tribute to the 370 Irish soldiers on seven UN peacekeeping missions, Mr Flanagan urged the UN to protect the reputation of all peacekeepers by confronting criminal behaviour by small numbers of UN troops.

The Government received reports of sexual abuse by some UN peacekeepers with “shock and outrage”, he said, a reference to UN peacekeepers accused of sexually abusing women and minors in Haiti.

“UN peacekeeping missions must never be associated with exploitation because of the actions of a few,” said Mr Flanagan.

“Ireland will always speak out to defend the vulnerable. We will not be silent about the plight of women and children harmed by the very people responsible for their protection.”

Confronting criminal behaviour

Ireland demanded action to confront this criminal behaviour, he said, as it was “vital to protect the good name of the UN and its peacekeepers, the overwhelming majority of them principled people”.

Mr Flanagan also raised concerns about gender equality, and attacks on religious minorities and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.

He urged other countries to follow Ireland’s lead becoming the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by a popular vote and promote rights for LGBTI citizens.

“Similarly, Ireland has had its own historic experience of religious repression; therefore religious freedom is a matter of great importance to my country,” he said.