The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., today outlined one of Ireland’s EU Presidency priorities, on increasing the level of participation by EU member States in UN peacekeeping operations and the important contribution which increased co-operation between regional organisations can make to such operations, particularly in Africa. Opening a high level seminar on Regional Organisations’ Co-Operation with the United Nations in the area of Crisis Management, Peace Support and Peace Enforcement Operations, Minister Shatter underlined the primary role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security, recalling the obligations of all UN member States to contribute forces to UN peacekeeping operations.
The founding principles of the UN dictate that a threat to international peace and security is threat to all of the international community and we all have an obligation to respond to that threat - Minister Alan Shatter
The Minister elaborated on what he considered to be the current and emerging “real and substantial threats” to international peace and security, which include transnational terrorism, organised crime, cyber-crime, regional conflicts, failing States, unregulated population migration, trafficking in drugs and people, in particular women and children, and piracy. Minister Shatter stated that “in our globalised world, these threats have become more difficult to address and are more interrelated”, noting that the challenges in addressing these threats have given rise to an increased complexity and robustness of UN peacekeeping and Crisis Management Operations. He went on to say that “we all have a stake in ensuring international peace and security, human rights and the rule of law, and, in turn, a responsibility to support multilateral efforts to this end, including through the commitment of peacekeepers to UN operations”.
The Minister noted the significantly reduced contribution of EU member States over recent decades to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, whereby the EU, while funding the largest proportion of the costs of such UN operations, contributes only 0.5% or 383 personnel to current UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. The Minister emphasized that the balance of force contributions needs to be addressed and that EU member States need to step up their commitments in contributing high-end capabilities and forces which can make UN operations more effective on the ground and to reengage with the UN on these operations.
Referring to the crisis in Syria, the Minister pointed to the need for greater efforts to achieve consensus and avoid political paralysis in the United Nations Security Council, so that the UN can respond more rapidly to significant international crises as they evolve. Acknowledging the complexities involved and the uncertainty of the outcome from ill-timed and ill-considered interventions, the Minister noted that “the unfortunate reality is that as the world looks on, many thousands more will die and there may be hundreds of thousands more refugees”. “An interesting question is whether the decision making architecture of the UN Security Council simply reflects the harsh realities of the world we live in or whether we can do better and, if so, how should that architecture change”.
The Seminar, taking palace in Dublin Castle today, will examine how the European Union, its member States, NATO and African Union can foster more effective co-operation and build partnerships across these regional organizations, between these organisations and the UN, and bilaterally, so as to enhance the effectiveness of UN mandated peacekeeping operations.
The seminar, attended by 120 delegates, will be addressed by a range of high level speakers from the United Nations, the European External Actions Service, NATO, the African Union, and national and international academics.