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United Nations

Membership of the United Nations has been central to Ireland’s foreign policy since we became a member in 1955. The principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter are those we have always striven to promote and protect. We will bring these values to our 2021-2022 term on the Security Council.

The principles and values enshrined in the UN Charter are common goals held by Ireland, and our EU partners, including:

  • maintaining international peace and security
  • promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes
  • promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • promoting economic and social development.

The UN has a key role in addressing the challenges of today: climate change; global poverty; defending human rights; eliminating the threat posed by nuclear weapons; peacekeeping in conflict zones; gender equality; and responding to humanitarian crises caused by natural disasters or conflicts.

Ireland works with the UN and its agencies primarily through our Permanent Missions to the UN in New York, Geneva and Vienna. Through our active participation at the UN, Ireland, despite its size, can make an impact on global issues.

For more information on Ireland’s wider work across the UN please see our pages on our work on Peace and Security, Peacekeeping, International Development, and Human Rights.

Ireland in the Security Council

Ireland was elected to the UN Security Council on 17 June 2020 for a two-year term, commencing on 1 January 2021. UN member states have entrusted Ireland with a significant responsibility to help maintain and promote international peace and security. This will be Ireland’s fourth term on the Council, having previously served in 1961, 1981-1982, and 2001-2002.

Since Ireland last served on the UN Security Council, the number of issues on the Council agenda has roughly tripled. These include more than 30 country and regional situations such as the conflicts in Syria, Somalia, Mali and the Middle East. The UN Security Council also designs the mandates under which UN Peacekeepers serve.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the responsibility to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or an act of aggression. It works to resolve disputes peacefully by investigating, mediating and appointing envoys. The Council can also impose economic sanctions or establish a peacekeeping operation in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. UN member states must comply with the resolutions of the Security Council.

A large proportion of the Council’s agenda is focused on Africa and the Middle East. These are longstanding priority areas for Ireland’s foreign policy, and we will engage actively on these and all country specific items during our term.

We will work actively on the Council’s thematic priorities including: Women, Peace and Security; Conflict and Hunger; Climate and Security; Human Rights; Youth, Peace and Security; Disarmament and Non-Proliferation; Children and Armed Conflict; Conflict Prevention and Mediation; and Protection of Civilians.

Ireland will bring our principled, consistent and open approach to the work of the Council. We believe we can play a constructive role, working to find solutions and to overcome divisions that exist on the Council.         

Ireland tenure on the Council will be guided by three principles:

  • Building Peace;
  • Strengthening Prevention; and
  • Ensuring Accountability.

These principles are at the heart of the Security Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security.

Photo Credit: UN PHOTO: Kim Haughton

Building Peace

Building peace means ensuring that we promote sustainable, durable solutions to conflict, a key aspect of which is peacekeeping.

 As a country with a longstanding and proud record of over 60 years continuous service on UN peacekeeping operations, Ireland will engage actively in shaping the mandates under which UN peacekeepers serve. Peacekeeping must be linked to peacebuilding to ensure continued and sustained support for countries emerging from conflict.

Ireland knows from experience that conflict resolution is a long and complex process, which requires consistent and determined commitment. Peace processes must include the voices of women, young people and civil society.

Strengthening Prevention

Ireland will work to strengthen the full spectrum of the UN’s conflict prevention activities, including preventative diplomacy, mediation, non-proliferation, and disarmament. Cooperation between the UN and regional organisations is also vitally important in preventing conflict.

Conflict prevention must address the underlying drivers of conflict including insecurity, social and economic inequality, hunger, climate change, violations of human rights, poor governance, and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The UN needs to deploy all its resources, including country teams, special representatives, political missions, and mediators, to intervene early; to highlight and stop human rights abuses; to prevent conflict; and to support the efforts of local stakeholders in peace-making and peacebuilding.

Ensuring Accountability

Ireland will promote the rule of law and the upholding of human rights, in particular international humanitarian and human rights law. This will include prioritising the protection of civilians in conflict, ensuring humanitarian access to those in need of assistance and the fight against impunity.

Ireland is a firm supporter of the International Criminal Court, which has a unique and vital mission to ensure that those responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern cannot act with impunity.

The Security Council itself has a responsibility to prevent mass atrocity crimes. Ireland strongly supports the ACT Code of Conduct, which pledges Council members to act to prevent such crimes.

Ireland looks forward to taking on the responsibility of being a member of the Security Council. We will work hard to make every day of our two-year term count

Photo Credit: UN PHOTO/ Cia Pak