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Access to Justice

Trócaire makes submission to government on Ireland’s foreign policy

By Michael O’Brien, Policy Officer
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is conducting a review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy and External Relations. The Review is a timely exercise.  
We live in a world in which security and prosperity can only be achieved over the long term if we act in ways that take account of the rights of others. Despite the much publicised development gains in some of the world’s larger developing countries, progress in poverty reduction has been uneven, both between countries and within countries.
The fact that the wealth of the richest 85 people in the world is equivalent to what the bottom half of the world’s population owns underlines the growing economic inequality in our world. And this inequality, compounds other inequalities, inequalities between men and women, impacting on fundamental human rights, such as the right to food. Can it come as any surprise then that in the 21st century around one in seven of the world’s population continue to live in hunger.
Irish foreign policy is increasingly identified with commercial interests. As Government responds to significant challenges we must not as the Tánaiste has stated be deflected ‘from our traditional values and role in the world’. Over several decades Ireland’s reputation has been built on values of solidarity, equality and participation. Our support for UN peacekeeping missions and investment in overseas development aid, contributing to a positive international image of Ireland.
This is a legacy Ireland can both be proud off and build on. As the international community struggles to respond to increasingly complex and interconnected challenges, Ireland as a member of both the UN and the European Union can help frame responses to climate change, food security and other challenges based on the global common good. 
Trócaire’s submission to the Review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy and External Affairs argues that the means to avoiding fragmented responses to common global challenges, is to be found in placing human rights at the heart of policy responses.
The global community has made specific human rights commitments. Ireland has ratified all the core UN human rights treaties. Ireland has a legal obligation to promote, respect and protect human rights. Our foreign policy must cohere with these obligations and can be advanced through the establishment and strengthening of mechanisms aimed at ensuring policy coherence for development across Government. 
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