BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Speech by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D., Launch of Ireland’s Campaign for Election to the UN Security Council United Nations, New York 2 July 2018


Ladies and Gentlemen.
For today, at least, this a is a small corner of Ireland by the East River and thank you for joining us here.

We gather at the Headquarters of the United Nations to formally launch Ireland’s candidature for election to the Security Council for the 2021-2022 term.

We do so alongside a sculpture depicting Irish emigrants disembarking from a ship on the East River in the nineteenth century. It remembers the Irish people who travelled the world in search of new and better lives, and the countries that welcomed them.

Throughout much of our history, we left our home shores to voyage elsewhere; whether as political émigrés, economic migrants, missionary educators or humanitarian workers.

The deep bonds we have with your countries were formed over centuries. We became connected to the wider world through our people, and we have renewed and strengthened those bonds through our involvement in the United Nations.

Ireland has also welcomed people from around the world to our shores. My own family’s history is testament to that.

We have now become a country of net immigration. And we welcome that. Migration has strengthened our economy and enriched our society and culture.

Today, more than 17 per cent of our population was born outside of Ireland – a sign of just how globalised and open our country has become.

While geographically we are a small island on the periphery of Europe, we see ourselves as an island at the centre of the world. We are deeply aware that, in an interdependent world, the challenges of our time do not respect geographic boundaries. Finding solutions is a shared responsibility.

This sense of shared responsibility guides Ireland’s view of the world and the part we play in it.

In 1921-1922 Ireland became an independent state, escaping a history of colonialism and conflict. It is not a unique story and we have much in common with so many of your countries.
Like the United Nations, we were born out of war and violence. It has shaped how we view the world and our responsibilities as global citizens.

Our membership of the United Nations helped us to take our place among the nations of the world. We support a rules-based order in international affairs. We have acted as a voice for the disadvantaged and defenceless, promoting freedom and defending human rights.

In areas such as peacekeeping, disarmament, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian assistance we have matched our words with our actions.

We are conscious that our contribution is most effective in partnership with the wider international community.

The Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are two examples of the power and potential of multilateral partnerships.

For these, and other challenges, Ireland brings a particular perspective, shaped by our history and our geography.

Our perspective on conflict resolution and reconciliation is informed by the long history of conflict and division on our island, and our success in bringing it to an end. We learned that it takes two to fight, but many to make a lasting peace.

This year is the twentieth anniversary of the Northern Ireland peace agreement. While the path to full reconciliation remains incomplete, the Good Friday Agreement has stood the test of time, creating new relationships, overcoming centuries-old divisions, and giving hope for the future.

We understand the need to listen, and the importance of respecting differences. On the UN Security Council, we would bring our hard-won insights and practical lessons to the table.

As a nation that has experienced colonisation, conflict, famine and mass migration, Ireland’s lived history resonates with the aims and objectives of the UN Charter.

Ireland has a longstanding commitment to working for the eradication of poverty and hunger in the world.

We migrated in millions and we recall the great compassion and the opportunities given to us by so many when we were ‘the huddled masses yearning to be free’. It is seared on our collective memories.

Our wish to engage with the wider world propelled us to join the UN many decades ago and it remains undiminished today.
We have always sought to be an active and fair member of the international community.

Today we believe we can do more.

Recently the Irish Government launched our strategy to double the scope and impact of Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. We have announced the opening of thirteen new embassies and consulates in the past year alone.

The Government has also committed to deliver 0.7% of GNI to development assistance by 2030.

We believe that we are far stronger acting together than we are acting alone. At its best, the United Nations is the conscience of humanity. In these troubled and uncertain times as a Global Island we want to play our part in defending, supporting and promoting its values.

Thank You.