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Sinn Féin calls for early recall of the Dáil to debate UN reform

1 July, 2005


Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has demanded, on behalf of Sinn Féin, an early recall of the Dáil in advance of the September UN Summit. Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Squeezing in a token one hour debate on the final day of session on the last possible opportunity before the UN Summit is a disgraceful way to treat the vital and highly complex issue of UN reform."

Speaking in the Dáil today he said, "Sinn Féin has been calling for a Dáil debate on the UN reform proposals since they were first published last December. Squeezing in a token one-hour debate on the final day of session on the last possible opportunity before the UN Summit is a disgraceful way to treat the vital and highly complex issue of UN reform.

"Sinn Féin is now demanding an early recall of the Dáil in advance of the September UN Summit to debate this issue with the thoroughness and seriousness it deserves.

"Let me state at the outset, that while Sinn Féin may not agree with every detail of the Annan proposals, there is much that is worthy of strong support and overall it represents a significant improvement over the status quo. Annan's plan is a commendable effort to learn from the shortcomings of the past 60 years and establish consensus on a plan for the new millennium."

In conclusion Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "as a republican internationalist I agree with the Secretary General that we as peoples and nations are united by moral imperatives and by objective interests. The UN is a toolbox, but it is also a process. It is a forum for global cooperation through which human beings are inching away from global conflict and towards global unity, slowly, as these processes must always be if they are to endure. Above all, the UN is only what we make of it. Let us support in every way we can this opportunity for change." ENDS

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has demanded, on behalf of Sinn Féin, an early recall of the Dáil in advance of the September UN Summit. Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Squeezing in a token one hour debate on the final day of session on the last possible opportunity before the UN Summit is a disgraceful way to treat the vital and highly complex issue of UN reform."

Speaking in the Dáil today he said, "Sinn Féin has been calling for a Dáil debate on the UN reform proposals since they were first published last December. Squeezing in a token one-hour debate on the final day of session on the last possible opportunity before the UN Summit is a disgraceful way to treat the vital and highly complex issue of UN reform.

"Sinn Féin is now demanding an early recall of the Dáil in advance of the September UN Summit to debate this issue with the thoroughness and seriousness it deserves.

"Let me state at the outset, that while Sinn Féin may not agree with every detail of the Annan proposals, there is much that is worthy of strong support and overall it represents a significant improvement over the status quo. Annan's plan is a commendable effort to learn from the shortcomings of the past 60 years and establish consensus on a plan for the new millennium."

In conclusion Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "as a republican internationalist I agree with the Secretary General that we as peoples and nations are united by moral imperatives and by objective interests. The UN is a toolbox, but it is also a process. It is a forum for global cooperation through which human beings are inching away from global conflict and towards global unity, slowly, as these processes must always be if they are to endure. Above all, the UN is only what we make of it. Let us support in every way we can this opportunity for change." ENDS

Full text of speech

STATEMENT ON UN REFORM

01 July 2005

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Leader in the Dáil

Sinn Féin have been calling for a Dáil debate on the UN reform proposals since they were first published last December. Squeezing in a token one hour debate on the final day of session -- that's the same time allocated in March to statements on Roy Bennet -- on the last possible opportunity before the UN Summit is a disgraceful way to treat the vital and highly complex issue of UN reform. I cannot possibly deal adequately with it in the 5 minutes available to my party. Sinn Féin are now demanding an early recall of the Dáil in advance of the September Summit to debate this issue with the thoroughness and seriousness it deserves, ideally allocating a separate debate for each of the four major sections of reform proposals and an overall debate to conclude with a Dáil resolution.

My party has been calling for comprehensive and progressive reform of the United Nations for many years. We therefore welcome the new focus on this profound challenge and we await the outcome of the historic September Summit with great interest. While we can be proud that an Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs will have played a key role in promoting the Annan reform package, we regret that the Government has not involved the Irish people more, has failed to grasp this opportunity as a unity-building process, and has instead essentially bypassed both the parliament and the people.

The UN has made a massive contribution to catalysing a basic international consensus around decolonisation, economic development, human rights, women's rights, anti-racism, environmental protection, and social and economic rights. It has created a constructive alternative to the competing military alliances of the past. Through the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international instruments and Conventions, it has changed the international landscape for the better and set rights benchmarks that we use on a daily basis in our work. While it has been deliberately emaciated by opponents of the checks it imposes on absolute power, we believe that, for all its flaws, the UN system still offers the best possible hope of international peace and justice available to the peoples and the nations of the earth. We are genuinely committed to UN primacy as the backbone of Ireland's international relations policy, and our own policy of Positive Neutrality in Action.

Sinn Féin must evaluate the UN Secretary General's proposals and the outcomes of the September Summit against what we believe are priorities for reform, that is, democratisation and capacity-building. Specifically, will they democratise the UN Security Council by eliminating the veto and permanent membership, and establishing a regionally representative democratic executive? Will they significantly increase the UN's ability to lead peacekeeping operations, and, most importantly, to prevent genocide and stop other crimes against humanity where the individual state concerned is unable or unwilling to do this? Will they prevent abuse of state power through unilateral preemptive action, such as we have most recently seen in the invasion and occupation of Iraq? Will they strengthen the ability to monitor and enforce human rights? Will they give more powers to the UN Economic and Social Council to manage global economic affairs equitably, in the interests of all? And critically, will they end the funding crisis that has plagued the UN for decades and provide more stable funding for capacity-building?

Let me state at the outset, that while Sinn Féin may not agree with every detail of the Annan proposals, there is much that is worthy of strong support and overall it represents a significant improvement over the status quo. Annan's plan is a commendable effort to learn from the shortcomings of the past 60 years and establish consensus on a plan for the new millennium.

In particular we welcome the "larger freedom" concept, which emphasises that the security of peoples is interlinked, and that there can be no security without development and human rights. The time has come for a "new security consensus" based on a recognition that major security threats include poverty, disease and environmental destruction. The introduction of a responsibility to protect principle allowing for collective action against genocide under conditions where the state concerned is unable or unwilling to act is also long overdue, and something we owe to the memory of Rwanda.

We welcome the proposal to create a more balanced three Council structure involving a reformed Security Council, a strengthened Economic and Social Council, and a newly-empowered Human Rights Council to replace the less effective UN High Commission for Human Rights. However, while both the A and B options proposed by the Secretary General as alternatives for Security Council reform would increase regional representativeness, neither one is sufficient, primarily because the permanent seats and the veto remain intact.

In conclusion, as a republican internationalist I agree with the Secretary General that we as peoples and nations are united by moral imperatives and by objective interests. The UN is a a toolbox, but it is also a process. It is a forum for global cooperation through which human beings are inching away from global conflict and towards global unity, slowly, as these processes must always be if they are to endure. Above all, the UN is only what we make of it. Let us support in every way we can this opportunity for change.

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