Martin makes pledge over UN challenges

Ireland will help the United Nations to play a stronger role in confronting global challenges, Foreign Affairs Minster Micheal Martin said in a major speech to the international body in New York.

In his first address to the UN in his new portfolio, Mr Martin also expressed concerns about world hunger and poverty as well as ongoing conflicts in Burma, Darfur and the Middle East.

“Ireland will play its part in responding to these challenges,” the Cork TD told his audience of world leaders and diplomats at the annual General Assembly summit.

“Whether we wish it or not we are being united every day, more and more, by the common challenges we all face. The principles and the work of the United Nations have never been needed more,” he said.

The minister specifically urged the UN to take the lead role in meeting the Millennium Development Goals while insisting that eradicating world hunger and ending poverty were among the most urgent tasks.

Mr Martin said the report of the Hunger Task Force, which the Taoiseach launched at the UN last week, was Ireland’s contribution to tackling the root causes of hunger, particularly in Africa.

Mr Martin also used his address to make a strong appeal to UN member states to sign the international ban on cluster bombs.

The draft agreement was negotiated in Dublin in May and is due to be inked in Oslo in December.

“Ireland will be among the first signatories of the Convention. I strongly urge all Governments to do likewise,” he said.

Mr Martin also renewed his call for the immediate release of Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and for continued international pressure on the country’s military rulers.

He called for those responsible for human rights abuses in Darfur to be brought to justice and for meaningful political and economic reform in Zimbabwe.

Condemning Israel’s building of illegal settlements in the West Bank, Mr Martin said: “Israel needs urgently to listen to the voice – the concerned voice – of the international community on the settlement issue.”

Concluding his speech, the minister said that Ireland owed a debt of gratitude to the international community who helped the quest for peace in the North.

“We are now determined to honour that debt and contribute our energy and our initiative everywhere we can make a difference.

“It is only by such a commitment that we can make this international community more than the sum of its parts, more than the sum of its fears, and instead make it what it was meant to be when the United Nations was established – the sum of all our hopes”.

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