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Ireland wins UN Security Council seat

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney. Rolling News.ie photo.


By Ray O'Hanlon

Ireland survived the "group of death."

Together with Norway, Ireland will take a seat on the United Nations Security Council for two years spanning the 2021-22 term.

Ireland secured the seat in a General Assembly vote Wednesday. Canada lost out to the two European nations, Ireland, a member of the European Union but not of NATO, and Norway, a member of NATO but not the EU.

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The vote followed a three year campaign by Irish diplomats, political leaders and well known international figures including Bono and former president, Mary Robinson, whose post presidential carer has been largely as a global representative for the UN.

In a Wednesday evening statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "Ireland this evening was elected to the United Nations Security Council and will now take a seat on the 15- member body in 2021 and 2022.

"Ireland campaigned on the themes of Partnership, Empathy and Independence as the key attributes that our country brings to its engagement with the UN and which will drive our work on the Security Council.

"Speaking after the result was announced in New York, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: 'This is a day on which we can all be proud. We have experienced a very difficult three months as a nation as we isolated ourselves from friends, family, work and travel.

'However, today’s victory underpins Ireland’s place in the world; as a global island, with a clear and tangible ambition to play a central role in contributing to international peace and security. We look forward to working with our partners in the international community from all around the world to promote our shared values of peace, justice, and human rights.

'We will do our utmost to make our two years on the Council as constructive and as effective as we can, acting as a voice for all who champion the peaceful resolution of conflict and addressing the drivers of conflict, drawing on the experiences we have gained from peace building in our own part of the world.'”

"Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD said: 'This is a fantastic result for Ireland in what was a very tough contest between competitors who are friends, supporters of the United Nations system and who share many of the same values and principles.

'I believe that today’s result is a clear indication of Ireland’s standing internationally. This comes from almost 65 years of UN membership and a steadfast commitment to building peace and investing in conflict prevention. There has not been a day since 1958 when Irish peacekeepers did not serve under the UN Blue Flag. For this and many other reasons, the members of the UN have honored Ireland by placing their trust in us to take a seat at the Security Council and to do our best to further the objectives of peace, conflict resolution and security for all of citizens of all the UN Member States. We will not betray that trust.'

"The Tánaiste continued: 'I would like to pay tribute to so many whose support has led to today’s success, in particular, to the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who has played a key role.

'But this campaign has been supported right across the political spectrum, as well as by NGOs and civil society and I would like to thank all for that. A special thank you to former President Mary Robinson. Also to Bono, and John McColgan who extended all the help they could in helping us promote our campaign for election.

'Thanks also to my Government colleagues. And of course a special thanks to our teams here in Ireland, in New York – led so ably by our Ambassador, Geraldine Byrne-Nason - and in our Embassies across the world, all who have made today possible.'"

In a later statement, Mr. Coveney added: "I want to pay tribute to all of the people who have worked so tirelessly to bring this result home.

"President Higgins has campaigned endlessly and he has been extremely effective. The people of Ireland can rest assured that when there is a vote to be had, their President brings home the bacon.

"Ministers Ciaran Cannon, Paul Kehoe, Helen McEntee and our Special Envoy Katerine Zappone have supported me throughout the last two years in meeting almost every country on earth multiple times and asking them to back Ireland.

"Mary Robinson, Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and Bono have been working behind the scenes to cement that support. But in Iveagh House and our 90 missions across the world our diplomats and officers have been working for much longer.

"It’s 15-years since one of our diplomats in New York first submitted our intention to win this seat. To Niall Burgess, Brendan Rogers, our fearless UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason and my own team – well done!

"But why does it matter that our small country sits on the UN Security Council? I’ve heard the criticism – 'the problems are too big and big states won’t listen!'

"To those people I point out that in the last six months the world has been threatened by a virus that knows no nationality and no borders. Countries are fighting back but we don’t yet have medicine, the only thing we have is shared knowledge. We have the knowledge on how to slow the spread and how to prevent infection.

"No one country on earth will stop coronavirus, just like no one country on earth will counter climate change. This belief in multilateralism is a cornerstone of Irish Foreign Policy and it has taken us from a country that, 100 years ago, was a British colony embarking on a bloody civil war, to a proud independent nation.

"Ireland has never invaded another country or gone to war with another people. Instead we have peacefully moved and thrived across the world. The number one question I have been asked throughout this campaign is: how does Ireland maintain such a strong bond with its diaspora?

"Our people are one of our biggest natural resources be they emigrants, soldiers, missionaries or aid workers. They have done us so proud.

"And it was in this same spirit that three years ago (Taoiseach Leo Varadkar) unapologetically set the ambition for Ireland to double its diplomatic footprint and win this seat through Global Ireland.

"The same criticisms were leveled then – “why do we need to open new missions in far flung places?”

"To those people I point out that our new mission in Chile and Mumbai were responsible for safely returning hundreds of citizens during the pandemic. We are not only out in the world for what we can get, Ireland is out there to contribute to a better world.

"Finally, since Covid-19 hit we could not meet other nations to ask for votes. Since April 1 I have spoken to the minsters of 80 individual countries. Sometimes their countries had terrible days with high death tolls. It has been incredibly human and humbling.

"But I want the Irish people to know that your country is held in high esteem across the world.

"Throughout this campaign, we made just one central commitment, firm and unwavering. That Ireland will speak, as we always have, with our own voice, authentic to our own experience as a country that understands the immense challenges of peace-building and peace-keeping, that has known the debilitating impact of hunger and migration, the transformative power of education.

"We will now honor these commitments to those who have trusted us with this Security Council seat."

Ireland has been a member of the United Nations since1955 and has served three previous terms on the Security Council in 1962, 1981-82, 2001-2002. Irish UN peacekeepers have served around the world without pause since 1958.