Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Positive Neutrality in Action Policy Document 2004

28 May, 2004


Introduction

Support for Irish neutrality has been a core republican value since the time of the United Irishmen. But it has never been more relevant than in the 21st century.

Irish military neutrality has been a source of our unique position in the world, a source of strength and legitimacy. Through the pursuit of an independent foreign policy in the past, Ireland has built an internationally respected reputation in UN peacekeeping, promotion of anti-nuclear initiatives and the development rights of post-colonial societies. Our international stature has also been enhanced by our experience of building a peace process at home.

A militarily neutral Ireland actively pursuing a global social justice agenda through peaceful means has more to offer than ever before at this time of volatility in international relations. Since the establishment parties have demonstrated that they are either not fully committed to neutrality or are opposed to it, republicans recognise our responsibility to show leadership in this regard.

Sinn Féin therefore proposes "Positive Neutrality in Action" as an independent policy alternative for expanding Ireland's role in international affairs. We see Positive Neutrality in Action not only as a policy with immediate relevance for the 26 county state, but also propose that it should form the heart of the international relations policy after reunification.

Recent developments have confirmed the need for such a policy. We offer this document as a clear statement of what Positive Neutrality in Action would entail.

Summary of Sinn Féin Proposals

Sinn Féin proposes an independent and progressive Irish international relations policy that opposes military alliances and works for international co-operation and conflict negotiation leading to democratic social change and respect for human rights, universal demilitarisation and nuclear disarmament.

Such a policy of "Positive Neutrality in Action" would require:

• Neutrality to be enshrined in the Irish Constitution and codified in legislation;

• Withdrawal from the EU Rapid Reaction Force and NATO's Partnership for Peace;

• Irish troops to train and serve abroad only under the auspices and leadership of the United Nations, and only with prior Dáil approval;

• No use of Irish airports, airspace, seaports, or territorial waters for preparation for war or other armed conflict by foreign powers;

• An end to Irish involvement in the arms trade and profit from war;

• Clear recognition and legal protection through a binding Protocol of Irish neutrality in any new EU Treaty;

• Active promotion of demilitarisation of the EU;

• Formation of alliances with other progressive, neutral states to promote a Human Security approach to international relations;

• Active promotion of UN primacy, UN reform and capacity-building to create a revitalised UN which is capable of fulfilling the promise of the Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of upholding international law.

Why Positive Neutrality in Action is relevant today

International context

International relations in the 21st century are proving unexpectedly volatile. Disturbing doctrinal shifts are taking place under the so-called "War on Terror", which has become the new justification for permanent war. The emergence of a single superpower has encouraged unilateralism. The consequent undermining of the United Nations and international law has further destabilised the global security environment.

The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan as a "retaliation war" in response to the 11 September atrocities set a bad precedent for international order. But the implications of the second war on Iraq are even worse. An invasion and occupation was mounted and supported by major powers (including EU powers) without UN authorisation. This invasion was based on concocted evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and rationalised by a doctrine of pre-emption (and by a post-hoc doctrine of regime change, contrary to international law). Other by-products of this appalling episode include the sabotage of perfectly effective UN weapons inspections and the deliberate sidelining of the UN in the post-war transition and reconstruction process. All those who failed to oppose the war -- including the Irish Government who had a seat on the Security Council during the relevant period -- bear responsibility.

While the need for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is obvious, the real clear and present danger to international security is posed by the arsenals and stockpiles held by existing nuclear states, including those NATO states who are members of the European Union, despite the evaporation of their rationale with the end of the Cold War nearly 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, there is no doubt that the UN itself is in crisis. In the 1980s and 90s it was subjected to a sustained assault led by big business interests critical of international regulation. With US help a financial crisis was engineered to create pressure on the UN to agree to certain reforms (such as downsizing, programme-slashing and other "market-friendly" measures). The UN was systematically under-funded and undermined for nearly two decades and then excoriated for its failure to respond effectively to Rwanda and Kosovo. The international community has not responded with the urgency required to remedy the situation. Six years into a comprehensive organisational overhaul and despite considerable achievements, the UN Secretary General was still forced to issue an urgent plea for support for UN reform in August 2003. But those states with the most available resources -- the US and EU states -- are busy pursuing and paying for their own security agendas. The true effect of development of EU defence capacity, according to the 2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (known as the Brahimi Report) has been the depletion -- not enhancement -- of UN peacekeeping capacity.

In a world where the gap between the richest and poorest is a vast and deepening canyon, where annual global military spending massively outstrips aid spending (pre-Iraq war figures: $800 billion as against $57 billion -- and only $10 billion on the UN) where the permanent members of the UN Security Council are also the world's biggest arms dealers, nuclear states and empire-builders who between them control most of the world's wealth, the need for a Human Security-based approach to international relations is more urgent than ever. 1

European context

Successive EU treaties since the Single European Act in 1987 have corroded independent foreign policy to the point where our military neutrality is virtually all we have left. Now there is the twin pressure of the accelerating militarisation of the EU, underway in earnest since the first reference to EU military co-operation and common defence appeared in the Maastricht Treaty. The subsequent treaties have built incrementally on this. These range from the establishment of the European Security and Defence Policy and the Rapid Reaction Force following the Amsterdam Treaty to the creation of command and control structures in which Ireland now participates, including an EU military command, as a result of the Nice Treaty. Now we are confronted with the EU federalist drive to use the next Treaty to reconstruct the EU as a military and economic superpower.

Despite all the denials, an EU Army is evolving in increments, and the Constitutional Treaty under negotiation will bring us measurably closer to this. The draft Article 40 enabling provisions direct that:-

• The EU shall frame a Common Defence Policy leading to a Common Defence;

• Common Defence can be the subject of "enhanced co-operation", or the sub-contracting of defence to a smaller group of states;

• Members shall contribute forces and improve military capabilities, and that the EU shall establish an EU Armaments Agency (the basis for an EU military industrial complex);

• Members shall be required to defend other members in case of attack and to cooperate with NATO in this (the so-called "solidarity clause).

Many of these next generation developments are already underway, Treaty or no Treaty, as they are being pursued by agreement in the EU Council. For example, while we don't yet have a new Treaty, we do have:--

• An EU military harmonisation deadline of 2010 and an agreement to establish the EU Armaments Agency;

• An agreed EU Security Doctrine that includes imperatives to increase military spending and an extension of the EU Rapid Reaction Force's Petersburg Tasks well beyond humanitarian and peacekeeping tasks to include military intervention to assist other states both within and outside the EU in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations;

• An EU-approved enhanced co-operation agreement on defence between the biggest, most powerful states France, Germany, and Britain.

The need for intervention to halt the momentum of EU militarisation has never been more urgent. Yet the Irish Government, on behalf of a supposedly neutral state, has done little if anything to oppose these developments, and has done even less to improve its negotiating position for the future in an EU that continues to be heavily dominated by NATO states even after enlargement in May 2004.

Domestic context

The Irish Government has repeatedly assured the Irish people that it supports neutrality. Their 2002 Programme for Government also specifically commits to UN primacy. But on many occasions since their election in 1997, this Government have both contradicted and violated their own stated policies.

Far from standing firm on Irish neutrality, they have steadily moved away from it:--

• In 1997 they joined NATO's Partnership for Peace despite promises to the contrary, and pre-election insistence on a referendum;

• They deployed the first Irish troops on NATO-led missions in Europe (SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1997 and KFOR in Kosovo in 1999);

• In 1999 they committed 850 Irish troops to the NATO-aligned EU Rapid Reaction Force (RRF), again without referendum;

• In 2001 they set the precedent of ministerial authorisation for war complicity without the assent of the Dáil in the case of the US-led war on Afghanistan;

• In 2001-2002 they refused to seek a legally binding neutrality Protocol to the Nice Treaty despite public outcry. They delivered instead a series of non-binding declarations. They delivered a Constitutional amendment which only guarantees that a referendum will be held in advance of joining an EU Common Defence. It is silent on neutrality and does not preclude other military alliances such as NATO;

• They told the Irish people to rely on their so-called "triple lock" requiring UN authorisation, Government decision and Dáil approval in advance of overseas troop commitments. But under the present conditions of Government majority it is effectively only a "double lock" since Government support carries every Dáil vote. In addition, it does not address the situation of other forms of assistance for war. It also allows for deployments with non-UN forces including the EU RRF and NATO.

• In 2002-2004 they involved the 26-Counties in supporting an illegal invasion of Iraq based on concocted evidence. In 2003 alone they allowed more than 3,500 military aircraft to overfly Irish airspace and well over 125,000 US troops to use Shannon Airport as a pit-stop on the way to the war build-up and to the invasion and occupation itself. They repeatedly denied this was so, and refused to put any decision before the Dáil until it was too late.

When questioned by Sinn Féin they claimed that the State does not need to conform to internationally accepted definitions of military neutrality and publicly signalled their intention to review the policy.

Far from asserting and supporting UN primacy, the Government have shifted the centre of their policy away from the UN and towards the EU:-

• In 1999 they expressed the first Irish support for a military action without a UN mandate (the NATO mission in Kosovo);

• They decided that Irish troops committed to the EU Rapid Reaction Force would be drawn from the same pool as the forces previously committed to UN Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS), thereby inevitably reducing the numbers available exclusively for UN-led missions;

• In 2000 the first ever White Paper on Defence broadened the mandate for international force deployment to include deployment with non-UN forces;

• Now the Irish Government have admitted that they support the provisions of the draft EU Constitutional Treaty that will further militarise the EU and enable development of an EU Common Defence.

In sum, the Government have compromised Irish UN commitments through their EU commitment, exploited loopholes in the Defence Acts to allow for Irish Defence Forces to serve in non-UN missions, and more recently said that a UN mandate "may no longer be necessary" for the deployment of Irish Defence Forces overseas.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that 26 county state is no longer a neutral state, and that the Fianna Fáil-PD Government have pursued a covert policy to incrementally abandon the twin policies of neutrality and UN primacy in favour of increased pooling of sovereignty in security and defence at EU-level.

At a time of belt-tightening in healthcare and education, the Government plans to squander €100 million in property divestment revenues on retooling the Defence Forces to make them EU- and NATO-compliant -- a requirement which will also demand an enhanced level of military spending in future.

Yet when questioned on the implications of their policies for neutrality, they flatly deny that there are any implications whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the emergent "caring coalition" do not present an obvious alternative because their defence policies are totally incompatible with one another. Fine Gael have declared their outright opposition to the policy of neutrality and their support for joining an EU Common Defence, and have tabled legislation to show they mean business. Labour does support constitutional neutrality in some form, and with the other left parties they supported the Sinn Féin Neutrality amendment in 2003.2 But there are worrying contradictions in Labour's position. Specifically, their support for an EU defence role (including Irish participation in the EU Rapid Reaction Force) in order to create an EU military counterbalance to the US is not only a throwback it is also a dead-end, a recipe for a rehash of Cold War bipolarism and resulting global instability. In any event the argument is fundamentally flawed in that it fails to take account of the close link between the EU and NATO (a nuclear alliance), the EU's continuing dependence on NATO in defence terms, NATO's insistence on compatibility and the degree to which EU-NATO decoupling threatens NATO, who will not allow it. This isolates the Green Party as the only partner supporting neutrality and opposing Irish military involvement with the EU. In the event of a Fine Gael/Labour/Green Party Government, it is not at all clear which policy on neutrality and EU Common Defence would win out.

The massive popular opposition to the war on Iraq -- including one of the largest street mobilisations in Irish history -- emphatically demonstrated that the Irish public cares about neutrality and wants an alternative to present Irish government policy. We support comprehensive and universal demilitarisation of conflict, and conflict resolution through negotiation and social change and our long-standing commitment to neutrality as an essential component of an independent international relations policy. Sinn Féin is committed to delivering this change.

Independence and Military Neutrality --

Core Republican Principles

Sinn Féin's support for neutrality is the product of a developed and coherent republican position stretching back over 200 years of Irish history.

The sovereignty of the people and national self-determination includes the freedom to determine one's relationship with other nations. From the beginning, Irish republicans have identified an independent foreign policy as one of the essential characteristics of the independent Irish state to which we aspire. It has always been a fundamental demand of those struggling for Irish freedom. Over time, military neutrality became the cornerstone of this expression of policy independence.

The demand for Irish neutrality in foreign wars became part of the republican lexicon because at key moments in our history the British Government attempted to coerce the Irish nation into support for imperial wars. Poverty forced many thousands of Irish youth to join the British Army where they provided cannon fodder for every imperial conflagration from the Napoleonic wars to the First World War. We as a nation became involved in these conflicts against our interests and against our will. This experience underlined the need to decide our own destiny in the community of nations, and thus became one of the prime motivating factors in our long struggle for independence.

Contrary to what some presume, the Irish impulse to neutrality well-predates the Second World War. One of the first political acts of the founder of Irish republicanism, Theobald Wolfe Tone, was to call for Irish neutrality in the face of an impending war between Britain and Spain. At the start of the last century, Arthur Griffith, who went on to found Sinn Féin, co-founded the Irish Neutrality Association with James Connolly and others, to make the case that the war between Britain and the Boers -- a war that was fundamentally about the British Government seizing control of South Africa's mineral resources -- was not in the interests of the Irish people. James Connolly also argued vigorously for a policy of neutrality during the First World War. As such he was one of the few socialist leaders in Europe who refused to be beguiled by jingoism into backing the conflict. When the Irish political establishment was offering support for British imperialism, republicans and socialists campaigned against involvement in that war -- just as today when the Government supports the use of Irish airspace and facilities by the world's only superpower, republicans have stood with others in opposing this.

This is not to say that Sinn Féin is a pacifist political party. Consistent with the principles of international law, we believe that the use of force can sometimes be necessary as a last resort to prevent the deaths of others or the oppression of peoples. Sinn Féin make no apologies for having recognised the right of the Irish people to use force against the British occupation, the right of the ANC to use force against the undemocratic South African Government, or that of other genuine liberation struggles such as the East Timorese. We continue to support the right of the Palestinian people to defend themselves against Israeli aggression. Support for struggles for democratic self-determination and support for military neutrality are entirely consistent positions.

Our position on neutrality is also wholly consistent with our demilitarisation agenda. We aspire to the comprehensive demilitarisation of conflict both here and elsewhere. We believe that to be effective, demilitarisation cannot be one-sided. However, demilitarisation in and of itself is also not enough to eliminate conflict, or to prevent future escalations or spirals. Effectiveness demands that non-violent, democratic political alternatives are made an active, viable option for aggrieved parties and peoples. This is the republican analysis, and it has many implications for both domestic and international policy.

Towards a Policy of Positive Neutrality in Action

Sinn Féin does not support Irish involvement in standing military alliances of any kind. We oppose involvement in NATO. We believe that there is no legitimate role for the European Union in military and defence matters, which should be left to individual states. International peacekeeping and conflict resolution should happen under the auspices of the United Nations. We are fully committed to "UN primacy" in this regard.

The policy we propose is "positive" in the sense of proposing constructive alternatives to militarism and to military alliances. It goes beyond "just saying no" to membership in formal military alliances.

For us neutrality also does not stop with non-membership of military alliances. It goes further. It means taking fuller responsibility by refusing to facilitate international conflict in any way. The policy therefore proposes "neutrality" in keeping with the minimum international definition common to other neutral states, that is, upholding the rights and duties defined in the Hague Convention.3 Article 2 forbids the movement of foreign troops or convoys of munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral state. Article 3 forbids the establishment of foreign military installations. Article 4 forbids foreign recruitment of combatants. Article 5 instructs that it is the responsibility of the neutral state to ensure that no acts under Articles 2-4 occur on its territory. So for Sinn Féin "neutrality" also includes non-collusion with belligerents. In our view, it must also preclude direct contribution to foreign conflicts through trade (for example: the arms trade, trade in dual-use goods that can be used for torture and other human rights violations, the trade in conflict diamonds, etc).

The policy we propose involves "action" in the sense that it requires committed promotion of these principles and of non-military instruments for conflict prevention and resolution at every available opportunity. In keeping with the republican spirit, it is a campaigning approach that goes beyond the lip service of other parties.

Defining "Positive Neutrality in Action"

The policy of "Positive Neutrality in Action" is equally well defined by what it is not, as much as by what it is.

What it is NOT

• Pacifism -- We accept that the use of force can sometimes be necessary as a last resort to prevent the deaths of others or the oppression of peoples.

• Ambivalence or apathy about conflicts and crises -- We believe that Ireland should be actively engaged in conflict resolution.

• Isolationism, disengagement, or "free rider-ism" (i.e. happy to benefit from the protection of others but not willing to reciprocate) -- We believe that Ireland should play a full and active part in the United Nations, including in its collective security and peacekeeping role.

We emphatically do not accept the argument that neutrality equals "defencelessness". No one could characterise the heavily militarised but neutral Switzerland as defenceless. On the other hand, neither military alliance nor military might protected the United States from the unprecedented 11 September attacks. This argument is a red herring.

What it IS

1. A commitment to the right to national self-determination, and a recognition that this right is not absolute but rather is subject to the constraints of international law. This involves:-

• A preference for dialogue, negotiation, co-operation and participatory democratic reform, coupled with a recognition that there are cases where a specific and limited application of force -- within the confines of international norms, guided by international law, and under conditions of international legitimacy -- may be justified. For example, the international community has a responsibility to act to prevent genocide;

• A recognition that no single state or limited group of states has the right to impose their will over other states through military force or other means;

• A recognition of the necessity for international consensus at UN level on military intervention;

• A refusal to co-operate with belligerents acting without United Nations authorisation for the use of force;

• A willingness to participate actively in international peacekeeping operations under UN auspices (reflecting international consensus on the need for action).

2. An acceptance that "Human Security" is the most appropriate doctrine to guide the policy. This involves:

• A fully inclusive sense of global justice and solidarity that balances respect for international norms including human rights, state sovereignty, and respect for all peoples;

• A recognition that injustice, inequality and discrimination are at the core of many conflicts around the world, and that in such cases conflict resolution will require grievance redress and reform;

• A commitment to harness the political will to eliminate the primary sources of human insecurity: hunger, poverty, disease, debt, inequality, dependence, domination, exploitation, dictatorship, state-clientelism, torture, abuse, and other systemic sources of suffering;

• An active commitment to global social justice, freedom and rights, grounded in a belief in equality and a desire to divert more resources, including human ingenuity, away from profiteering and war and towards the realisation of a better world where all human needs are met;

• A vision of truly common, integrated security, predicated on a refusal to see state security as superior to the security of people, or our own security as ultimately separate from the security of others;

• A recognition of the need for global co-ordination and global solutions to the problem of human insecurity.

3. A willingness to assert Ireland's rights and responsibilities as a neutral state. This involves:-

• A refusal to get drawn in to military conflicts as a result of standing military alliances or mutual defence pacts;

• Ending Irish involvement in conflicts by refusing to allow the island to be used as a military base for refuelling warplanes or civilian flights carrying troops to the theatre;

• Enforcing the law banning military overflights and stop-overs;

• Ending Irish profit from war, and introducing human rights-proofing of all government spending and subsidies;

• Ending involvement in the arms trade and instituting adequate and fully transparent export controls on dual-use goods;

• Promotion of the demilitarisation of conflict and challenging militarisation;

• Active campaigning for universal nuclear disarmament and for the permanent destruction of all stocks of weapons of mass destruction -- including those held by the NATO states -- under UN supervision;

• Active contribution to conflict resolution through dialogue, fully inclusive negotiation, and managed social change directed towards the causes of conflict;

• Pursuit of (non-military) alliances with other progressive neutral states, with those nations struggling with the legacy of colonialism, and with all those peoples within states struggling against social and political oppression and economic exploitation, and for recognition of their common rights;

• Full compliance with all international instruments and agreed norms;

• Active promotion of UN primacy;

• Active promotion of UN reform and capacity-building;

• A commitment to democracy and full inclusion at the both lowest and highest levels of human political organisation.

Defining "Positive Neutrality in Action"

The policy of "Positive Neutrality in Action" is equally well defined by what it is not, as much as by what it is.

What it is NOT

• Pacifism -- We accept that the use of force can sometimes be necessary as a last resort to prevent the deaths of others or the oppression of peoples.

• Ambivalence or apathy about conflicts and crises -- We believe that Ireland should be actively engaged in conflict resolution.

• Isolationism, disengagement, or "free rider-ism" (i.e. happy to benefit from the protection of others but not willing to reciprocate) -- We believe that Ireland should play a full and active part in the United Nations, including in its collective security and peacekeeping role.

We emphatically do not accept the argument that neutrality equals "defencelessness". No one could characterise the heavily militarised but neutral Switzerland as defenceless. On the other hand, neither military alliance nor military might protected the United States from the unprecedented 11 September attacks. This argument is a red herring.

What it IS

1. A commitment to the right to national self-determination, and a recognition that this right is not absolute but rather is subject to the constraints of international law. This involves:-

• A preference for dialogue, negotiation, co-operation and participatory democratic reform, coupled with a recognition that there are cases where a specific and limited application of force -- within the confines of international norms, guided by international law, and under conditions of international legitimacy -- may be justified. For example, the international community has a responsibility to act to prevent genocide;

• A recognition that no single state or limited group of states has the right to impose their will over other states through military force or other means;

• A recognition of the necessity for international consensus at UN level on military intervention;

• A refusal to co-operate with belligerents acting without United Nations authorisation for the use of force;

• A willingness to participate actively in international peacekeeping operations under UN auspices (reflecting international consensus on the need for action).

2. An acceptance that "Human Security" is the most appropriate doctrine to guide the policy. This involves:

• A fully inclusive sense of global justice and solidarity that balances respect for international norms including human rights, state sovereignty, and respect for all peoples;

• A recognition that injustice, inequality and discrimination are at the core of many conflicts around the world, and that in such cases conflict resolution will require grievance redress and reform;

• A commitment to harness the political will to eliminate the primary sources of human insecurity: hunger, poverty, disease, debt, inequality, dependence, domination, exploitation, dictatorship, state-clientelism, torture, abuse, and other systemic sources of suffering;

• An active commitment to global social justice, freedom and rights, grounded in a belief in equality and a desire to divert more resources, including human ingenuity, away from profiteering and war and towards the realisation of a better world where all human needs are met;

• A vision of truly common, integrated security, predicated on a refusal to see state security as superior to the security of people, or our own security as ultimately separate from the security of others;

• A recognition of the need for global co-ordination and global solutions to the problem of human insecurity.

3. A willingness to assert Ireland's rights and responsibilities as a neutral state. This involves:-

• A refusal to get drawn in to military conflicts as a result of standing military alliances or mutual defence pacts;

• Ending Irish involvement in conflicts by refusing to allow the island to be used as a military base for refuelling warplanes or civilian flights carrying troops to the theatre;

• Enforcing the law banning military overflights and stop-overs;

• Ending Irish profit from war, and introducing human rights-proofing of all government spending and subsidies;

• Ending involvement in the arms trade and instituting adequate and fully transparent export controls on dual-use goods;

• Promotion of the demilitarisation of conflict and challenging militarisation;

• Active campaigning for universal nuclear disarmament and for the permanent destruction of all stocks of weapons of mass destruction -- including those held by the NATO states -- under UN supervision;

• Active contribution to conflict resolution through dialogue, fully inclusive negotiation, and managed social change directed towards the causes of conflict;

• Pursuit of (non-military) alliances with other progressive neutral states, with those nations struggling with the legacy of colonialism, and with all those peoples within states struggling against social and political oppression and economic exploitation, and for recognition of their common rights;

• Full compliance with all international instruments and agreed norms;

• Active promotion of UN primacy;

• Active promotion of UN reform and capacity-building;

• A commitment to democracy and full inclusion at the both lowest and highest levels of human political organisation.

Conclusion

Sinn Féin believes that true security is universal, and based on social justice, fully meeting human needs, and respecting human rights and human equality.

We support full foreign policy independence, underpinned by support for UN primacy and complemented by Positive Neutrality in Action. We believe that neutrality must be enshrined in the Constitution. We see our commitment to demilitarisation of the EU and universal nuclear disarmament as an extension of our commitment to fully demilitarise the conflict on this island.

Positive Neutrality in Action is not about sitting on the fence. It is not about taking no action. It is not about pacifism. It is about actively promoting and participating in conflict resolution, demilitarisation, and making politics work to redress legitimate grievances and achieve needed social changes -- at both state and international levels.

Sinn Féin recognises that militarisation does not increase security because the biggest threats to security presently are not military threats; they are poverty, hunger, disease, and injustice. Therefore, our policy of Positive Neutrality in Action recognises the need to adopt a wholistic "Human Security" approach -- which means understanding, confronting, and redressing the social, political and economic roots of conflict, including the structural roots.

Sinn Féin also recognises the urgent need for UN reform and a return to the primacy of the UN system, which has been undermined. For all its shortcomings, it remains the most globally representative and inclusive international forum and therefore our best prospect for international peace. We reject both standing military alliances and unilateral action in international relations in favour of collective action at UN level.

We also oppose in principle the outsourcing of peacekeeping to regional groupings such as the EU. This is a negative development that both undermines the development of UN peacekeeping by rendering it redundant and encourages the creation and consolidation of regional military alliances -- the very phenomenon that the UN was formed to render obsolete.

Building capacity in a reformed UN, so that it is able to take on the missions that are necessary, so that it can respond early and proactively to prevent genocide, for example, should be a global policy priority. We believe that the creation of an EU Army and the focus on EU Defence undermines this project by diverting energy and resources that should rightfully go directly to the UN system.

These principles and beliefs outlined above have informed Sinn Féin's policy of Positive Neutrality in Action. It is our belief that if Ireland followed this policy our nation could make a highly significant contribution towards the long-held global objective of international peace with justice, and towards the achievement of Human Security, to which everyone has a right.

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