Wednesday 23 May 2018

Higgins: Ireland's peace-making "our strongest card" in bid for UN Security Council seat

President Michael D Higgins arrives at UN headquarters in New York
President Michael D Higgins arrives at UN headquarters in New York
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has said Ireland's experience as a peace-maker is "our strongest card to play" in bidding for a future seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Ireland is up against Canada and Norway for one of two vacancies that arise in the 2021-2022 term and Mr Higgins is using a visit to UN headquarters in New York to make a pitch for the Irish case to other world leaders.

Earlier today he delivered an impassioned speech to the UN General Assembly calling for a renewed commitment to global peace-building. He gave the Northern Ireland peace process as an example of conflict resolution.

He is also holding bilateral meetings with other leaders where he is raising Ireland's Security Council candidacy as part of Ireland's diplomatic campaign to garner support for the bid.

Mr Higgins told Independent.ie that he discussed the matter with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at a meeting earlier today.

He did not say if Mr Santos offered any undertaking of support for Ireland's bid.

But Mr Higgins said Mr Santos is grateful for Irish involvement in the Colombian peace process, including the role of former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore who took part in European Union efforts to bring an end to decades of conflict in the country.

Speaking in general about the bid for the Security Council seat, Mr Higgins said: "Ireland’s capacity as peace-maker, peace-implementer and peace understanding is our strongest card to play.

"There are others with greater resources who will speak about the amount they may be able to put in military expenditure into a response to a conflict.

"Our strength is entirely in relation to the peace side."

Mr Higgins added that the Irish experience is "not based on size of population, size of armies, competencies of an armaments kind. It’s based on things of the mind".

He referred to a UN statement that says "wars begin in the minds of men" and said: "that’s where peace and peacebuilding has to start."

Mr Higgins is expected to raise Ireland's candidacy for a Security Council seat during further meetings this evening and tomorrow.

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