Eoghan Murphy, 22nd Sept. 2011

Topical Issue Debate – International Day of Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

Posted September 26th, 2011

Eoghan Murphy TD, statement made during ‘Topical Issues’ in Dáil Eireann, 22nd September 2011, Answered by Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy:

As the Minister of State Deputy Creighton will be aware, yesterday, 21 September was the international day of peace, a day that has been recognised by the UN for the past 29 years. It was also the first day of the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where leaders from around the world have come together to discuss their plans for progressing peace and human security for the coming year.

Our first endeavours in the United Nations in the 1950s were always in pursuit of peace, be it in sending peacekeepers around the world, as we have done for many decades and continue to do, or in the control of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament generally. Indeed, the first Minister sent to the United Nations in the 1950s, Mr. Frank Aiken, pursued a treaty on the non-dissemination of nuclear nations. In 1961, the Irish resolution adopted by the UN took a hold of that vision and in 1965 was converted into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT. We have continued to work in the pursuit of arms control and disarmament since then and, most recently, at the review conference for the NPT in 2010, we were successful in achieving some significant progress in the pursuit of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. We will continue to work towards these endeavours. We have also worked very successfully in trying to abolish landmines and cluster munitions. In 2008, a declaration was signed in Dublin that brought into effect the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Peace day is about more than one day, however. We must continue with these efforts on a constant basis until we have achieved a world that is free from the threat of nuclear weapons and other such threats. Tomorrow in New York, on the margins of the General Assembly, there will be a conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, also known as the Article 14 conference. This is a treaty that was opened for signature 15 years ago, in 1996, yet it still has not come into force. It is the next most important step in achieving a world free of nuclear weapons and the next most important piece of architecture in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Yet it is still not in force.

There are nine countries involved that have held out from signing and ratifying the treaty. It is imperative that Ireland, given its position and its history of involvement in this area, pursues this goal, of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty, and that it gives dedicated effort to achieving finally the entry into force of that treaty sooner rather than later. This was the last major WMD arms control treaty to be negotiated by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva a conference which has been in stalemate for the past 12 years, which is a disgrace. And we must also make efforts in this regard.

The Tánaiste is at the UN General Assembly at present. I wish him well in his endeavours and in the negotiations and bilateral meetings he will hold.

[Minister Creighton responds]

Deputy Eoghan Murphy:

I thank the Minister of State. It is very encouraging to hear that the Government is preparing for the 2015 NPT review conference process. It is particularly encouraging that the Middle East review will be going ahead in 2012, and I wish everyone the very best in that regard because it is very important to what we are trying to achieve in that region as well as in the wider world in regard to nuclear weapons disarmament.

With regard to the measures being pursued at present in relation to conventional weapons, it is commendable that we have a commitment in this area, both through the UN system and also through the NGO system. I wish the Government the very best on both these tracks.

The Tánaiste will become chairman of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe next year. I am the head of the Oireachtas delegation to the parliamentary assembly for the OSCE and I offer him and his Department all my support in everything he hopes to achieve next year. The delegation will be interested in meeting the Minister to hear more about his plans while chairman of that organisation and I look forward to hearing from him in that regard.

[Minister Creighton responds]

To read this debate in full, please click on the following link: