Taoiseach’s visit to New York to coincide with UN General Assembly meeting

Martin to use Ireland’s presidency of Security Council to urge action to prevent conflicts linked to climate change

  Taoiseach Micheál Martin:  He will address the UN General Assembly on Friday. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: He will address the UN General Assembly on Friday. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to use Ireland’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council to urge world powers to take action to prevent conflicts linked to climate change.

Mr Martin on Monday begins a five-day visit to New York to coincide with the annual UN General Assembly meeting.

Ireland is chairing meetings of the Security Council this month, and Mr Martin will lead a discussion on Thursday on climate and security.

He will address the UN General Assembly on Friday, where he is to outline Ireland’s views on the Covid-19 pandemic and the ethical obligation to share vaccines with less developed countries.

Ireland is expected to donate 1.3 million vaccine doses by the end of the year, with more to follow next year, and has pledged €7 million in funding for a Covax initiative to support the global rollout.

Mr Martin will also deliver a foreign policy statement covering ongoing conflicts, the importance of upholding international human rights and the delivery of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

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Ireland holds a temporary seat on the UN Security Council this year and next, joining the five permanent members – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and other countries at the horseshoe table.

The seat was awarded after a two-year campaign involving figures ranging from President Michael D Higgins to Bono, as well as ministers in the last government including Katherine Zappone.

The summer saw controversy over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression. Mr Coveney – who will also be attending the UN meetings – last week faced down a motion of no confidence as a result of his handling of the matter.

Ireland’s presidency of the Security Council this month allows it to schedule meetings to discuss its foreign policy priorities.

Mr Martin will on Thursday highlight the importance of responding to climate change and how its effects are causing conflicts and insecurity around the world.

One example is the Horn of Africa, where repeated droughts have undermined communities and disrupted livelihoods, allowing armed groups to exploit these precarious conditions to recruit fighters.

Responses

Mr Martin will argue it is crucial that the Security Council considers the impact of climate change in its work to prevent and end conflict. He will also suggest that the UN’s peacekeeping operations assess climate-related security risks and potential responses to them.

Irish diplomats believe there is a “window of opportunity” for Ireland to show leadership on what is said to be a relatively new area for the Security Council to consider. A majority of Security Council members are understood to accept that more can be done in this area.

While the main General Assembly debate will be in person, other meetings will be held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. President Higgins and Ministers Eamon Ryan and Colm Brophy will participate in some of them from Ireland.

The Taoiseach’s engagements in the US begin today 9Monday) when he meets New York’s new governor Kathy Hochul. An Irish-American Democratic Party politician, Ms Hochul was sworn in last month following the departure of Andrew Cuomo, who denied sexual harrassment allegations made against him but resigned from his role.