Ireland frustrated at effectiveness of UN Security Council, Taoiseach says

Martin says Russia behaving as ‘rogue state’ and hits out at Israelis’ settlement building

Ireland has at times been “deeply frustrated” at the effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

In an address — or national statement — to the United Nations general assembly on Thursday he criticised Russia for behaving “as a rogue state” and also hit out at Israeli settlement building. He maintained this seemed part of a deliberate effort to undermine the viability of a future Palestinian state.

Mr Martin said political will and a commitment to the principles of the UN charter could deliver results. However, he said on other key occasions the Security Council had failed to act.

Mr Martin said that last year Russia had vetoed attempts by Ireland and Niger to craft a resolution that reflected the reality that climate change was increasingly driving insecurity and acting as a threat multiplier. He said the initiative had been backed by 113 member states in the United Nations.

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“It frankly beggars belief that, in 2022, the UN body charged with the maintenance of peace and security has still not taken on its responsibilities in this area. It is a singular failure of political will and political responsibility.”

The Taoiseach said that a year ago he had raised Ireland’s deep concern at the situation in Tigray, in northern Ethiopia, at the looming humanitarian catastrophe, at the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“I spoke of the vital need for a negotiated ceasefire, unfettered humanitarian access and the restoration of basic services and a political solution to the crisis.

“Yet, a year later, we continue to raise the alarm. We continue to urge the council to act decisively. We continue with our determination to support a political solution and seek accountability for gross human-rights abuses.”

He said that each month since it became a member of the Security Council Ireland had discussed the Palestinian situation and, along with other countries, had reiterated its firm commitment to a two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, living in peace and security alongside the state of Israel, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

“But we are no nearer today to that aim than we were when we joined the council 18 months ago; and, truth be told, long before that.

“Israeli settlement building continues to undermine — it would seem knowingly and deliberately — the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state, and to jeopardise the two-state solution. Settlements are a clear violation of international law and today stand in the way of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Mr Martin said the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory was untenable.

“We cannot — and must not — become inured to it.”

“We cannot tolerate a situation where young Palestinian people have no confidence in political progress and no hope for the future. The risk — the very real risk — is that the space for the political middle ground is being squeezed out, lessening further the prospects of a just and lasting solution.”

The Taoiseach strongly criticised Russia and said it was behaving like a “rogue state”.

“In Ukraine in July, I heard first-hand accounts from civilians of the brutality and violence visited upon men, women and children by occupying Russian forces. And where Russia’s forces have been pushed back, we have seen the wanton destruction, and the uncovering of mass civilian graves, such as in Bucha and more recently in Izyum.

“We have seen the targeting of nuclear facilities and of civilian infrastructure.

“And now we see president Putin plan sham referendums in eastern Ukraine, aimed at forcibly changing Ukraine’s borders, in clear violation of the UN charter.”

Mr Martin said the impact of Russia’s aggression was reaching far beyond Ukrainian or European shores and borders.

“From the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, and beyond, food insecurity has reached a critical tipping point.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent