Submission Green Paper on Defence – Ray Murphy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, nui galway

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Submission - Green Paper on Defence – Ray Murphy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway.

The focus of this submission is primarily related to Defence Force involvement in peace operations and related issues. After a review of the background to the so called Triple Lock mechanism and Irish participation in peacekeeping in general, the submission considers the implications of the current policy and makes some related recommendations.

Background to Irish Participation in Peacekeeping
Membership of the United Nations (UN) has been a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy since 1955.1 For many years, prior to accession to the European Community, the UN was the only forum where Ireland could express its concerns across a wide range of international issues. The building and maintenance of a strong and effective UN, especially in the area of conflict prevention, forms a key objective of Irish foreign policy within which peacekeeping operations have come to play a central role. As a small country, Ireland continues to have a vested interest in the promotion of multilateral diplomacy and collective security. Despite the deficiencies in the UN Charter and the general framework of the UN, the advantage to a small state has been recognised by successive governments.

Today participation by Defence Forces and Gardaí in a range of UN sponsored activities is commonplace.2 This involvement has become a significant element of Irish foreign policy, and a concrete manifestation of commitment to the UN and the maintenance of world peace.3 A tradition of active membership of both the League of Nations and the UN has assisted in establishing a peacekeeping tradition.4 Furthermore, the effects of Ireland’s policies over a range of issues including decolonisation, disarmament, human rights, and its history under colonial rule and non-membership of a military alliance, combined to make it acceptable as a contributor to peacekeeping and related activities.

In 1993, Ireland revised and updated the municipal legal basis for troop participation in UN operations to allow Ireland to contribute soldiers to UNOSOM II in Somalia. This brought about a fundamental change in policy, after which participation in peacekeeping forces not specifically of a ‘police nature’ was permitted.5 At the time this did generate some debate as to whether Ireland should contribute forces to new kinds of military action by the UN. Since then the debate about future Irish participation in peace operations has become more controversial owing to the foreign policy and security implications of more recent EU treaties.

The most significant political development on Irish participation in peace operations in recent years was the publication of the Government White Paper on Foreign Policy in 1996, and a White Paper on Defence in 2000.6 The White Paper on Foreign Policy was strong on ideals, but weak in identifying Ireland’s interests and the practical implications of foreign policy decisions. Likewise, the 2000 White Paper on Defence was dominated by descriptive passages, mixed with cost cutting suggestions disguised as expenditure analysis.7 The Paper lacked policy analysis and vision.8 The surprise decision to reduce the Defence Forces to around 10,500 sparked off the serious public dispute ever between the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces.9 This had the unfortunate consequence of detracting attention from other defence and security issues discussed in the White Paper. Although both the Foreign Policy and Defence Forces White Papers were vague in many respects, the chapters dealing with overseas peace operations did set out the background to Irish involvement, and the factors that will inform the government’s consideration of requests for troops were enunciated in clear terms. They also spelled out the guiding principles the government should consider in deciding whether or not to participate in enforcement operations in the post Somalia era which are discussed later. What is most surprising about the criteria and guidelines is how little reference is actually made to them in the Dáil debates seeking approval for participation.10 Part of the problem may be the need to respond quickly to humanitarian emergencies.

The debate stimulated by the publication of the White Paper on Foreign Policy was a welcome attempt to engage the Irish public in the formulation of foreign policy, and it has assisted in identifying and clarifying some key issues. The importance of maintaining a clear distinction between traditional peacekeeping and operations involving some degree of enforcement action is not just important for the UN, but also contributing states like Ireland. The intra state conflicts of today present complex and dangerous situations for all peacekeepers, and while there is general support from the Irish public for participation in such operations, it is not prepared to accept any significant casualties or unnecessary exposure to risk. The real risks are not well understood, although Ireland contributed to UNIFIL for over twenty years, there was still a large degree of ignorance among the Irish general public of the dangers and general situation prevailing there for UN peacekeepers.11

The decision to apply for membership of the UN was probably motivated by a fear of Ireland being isolated and denied any role on the world stage. In this way, the decision was based on pragmatic considerations, rather than any idealistic or similar commitment to the UN itself.12 There are interesting parallels with the debate regarding membership of the NATO sponsored Partnership for Peace and Irish participation in the UN mandated but NATO commanded Stabilisation Force (SFOR) and Kosovo Force (KFOR) missions in the former Yugoslavia. There was a very real fear among officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the military that if Ireland did not join the Partnership for Peace programme, it would be isolated and out of touch with international developments in peacekeeping.13 Thosefears echoed similar concerns expressed by the then Taoiseach de Valera some fifty years earlier in relation to membership of the UN.

Although the Irish commitment to the UN forces in Somalia (UNOSOM II) was quite small, the decision to participate had significant political and military implications.14 It was the first time Irish soldiers participated in a UN Chapter VII peace enforcement operation of this kind and it marked a watershed in Irish involvement in peacekeeping activities which reflected a realisation that Ireland could be left behind in the changing nature of the international security environment unless it too adapted to events. Though the UN operation in the Congo (ONUC) in the 1960’s did involve a degree of peace enforcement to which the Irish contingent was a party, the recent decisions to participate in a number of Chapter VII operations, sometimes referred to as robust peacekeeping, were conscious decisions made in response to the changed international environment.

In the case of non-UN led forces, the government also agreed to pay the expenses associated with Irish participation. More significantly, the participation in the NATO led, albeit UN mandated operations, placed Irish troops under the operational command of NATO for the first time.15

The current trend is towards delegation by the Security Council of its powers to establish peace operations to ‘coalitions of the willing’.16 However, this is dependent on a powerful state agreeing to take the lead, and others agreeing to contribute. It is when states are unwilling to form such coalitions that the UN often falls back on peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations under Chapter VII, in the latter case, not always successfully. Participation in ‘coalitions of the willing’ can have serious political implications and raises policy issues for countries like Ireland that to date have avoided participation in formal military alliances.

In contrast to the situation pertaining in Ireland, Austria, a country that is traditionally seen as neutral, amended its laws to facilitate full participation in European Union (EU) Common Foreign and Security Policy, including sanctions by the EU against other states.17 This included participation in peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations without a UN mandate.
Guidelines for participation in peace support operations

The Irish government has committed itself to supporting the unique role and authority of the UN in the field of conflict resolution and peacekeeping. However, in view of the number, size and complexity of current peace support operations, it was deemed necessary to develop a selective response to requests from the UN based on certain factors. The factors that will inform consideration of such requests will include:-

  • an assessment of whether a peacekeeping operation is the most appropriate response to the situation;

  • consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy;

  • the degree of risk involved;

  • the extent to which the particular skills or characteristics required relate to Irish capabilities;

  • the existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate which has the potential to contribute to a political solution;

  • whether the operation is adequately resourced;

  • and the level of existing commitment to peacekeeping operations and security requirements at home.

The White Paper on Defence outlined additional factors for consideration, including on-going developments in UN peace support operations, the evolution of European security structures, and the resource implications for the defence budget.

The guidelines are very broad and imprecise, so much so that it could be said that all peacekeeping forces established will fall foul of at least one or more of them, and they could thus be used to avoid participation in, or even to deny the legitimacy or raison d’être of certain operations. These are legitimate factors for any sovereign state to take into account, and each request must be considered on its own merits.

The UN operations in Somalia had a profound impact on peace missions since then, and Ireland’s policy was also modified in response to events there. Participation in any enforcement mission is risky. Taking into account of the experience of Somalia, the Irish government’s approach to participation in future enforcement operations will be guided by certain criteria:

  • that the operation derives its legitimacy from decisions of the Security Council;

  • that the objectives are clear and unambiguous and of sufficiency and urgency and importance to justify the use of force;

  • that all other reasonable means of achieving the objectives have tried and failed; that the duration of the operation be the minimum necessary to achieve the stated objectives;

  • that diplomatic efforts to resolve the underlying disputes should be resumed at the earliest possible moment;

  • that the command and control arrangements for the operation are in conformity with the relevant decisions of the Security Council and that the Security Council is kept fully informed of the implementation of its decision.

While there is nothing radical or innovative about the criteria, and they are broadly similar to those adopted by Canada around the same time, the level of public knowledge and debate was enhanced by their publication. They also set down the factors to be taken into account before a decision is made to participate, and they allow for the political and military implications of individual missions to be assessed and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Then, an informed decision can be taken on the basis of all the facts. This may lead to accusations of naiveté, especially as Ireland must now compete with other states to participate in certain operations.18 The end of the Cold War has witnessed the industrial-military complex of both camps searching for a new identity and raison d’être. UN sponsored military operations have provided a means for armed forces to resist pressure to rationalise and reduce their capacity. Proposals from smaller states indicate that this is not simply a concern of the larger powers.19 Nonetheless, Ireland should not be afraid to decline to participate in any UN operation when this is the right course of action to take.

The guidelines were applied for the first time in 1996, when the Irish government decided to contribute troops to the proposed Canadian led UN intervention force planned for Central Africa.20 In the event, the troops were not required. When the matter of contributing troops to the NATO led SFOR in the former Yugoslavia and KFOR in Kosovo was being considered, the guidelines were applied again. There was general support for the proposal from the main political parties.21 The Defence Forces and the Department of Foreign Affairs were strong advocates of the proposal.22 In July 1999, Ireland agreed to send a transport company to Kosovo as part of KFOR. There was nothing radical or new in this decision, and their role is very similar to that performed by the Irish contingent with UNOSOM II.23 Nonetheless, Irish involvement in SFOR and KFOR appeared to set the scene for a longer-term re-orientation of Irish participation in international peace operations. If the Defence Forces are to retain the skills and reputation acquired to date in the new context of European security, then it may be necessary to participate in the organizations where best contemporary practice is developed. This is all the more so with the UN move from traditional peacekeeping to more complex peace operations conducted by regional organizations with UN approval. This was a significant development for Ireland that should assist in ensuring that the prominent role played by the Defence Forces to date in peacekeeping operations is not diminished in the future.

The guidelines were applied in the decision by the Irish Government to participate in UNMIL (Liberia). According to the Minister for Defence, the decision to send Irish troops to Liberia was not taken lightly.24 There was cross party support for the initiative, and the media and commentators in general welcomed the decision.25 This is in contrast to what occurred in respect of the Irish decision to contribute to the EU military mission to Macedonia in early 2003.

The ‘Triple Lock’ and its implications for the EU mission to Macedonia

In March 1995, the UN established the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP), to replace an earlier UN mission in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (‘Macedonia’).26 The mandate of UNPREDEP remained essentially the same: to monitor and report any developments in the border areas that could undermine the confidence and stability in Macedonia and threaten its territory. This was regarded as a very successful mission. Unfortunately, the functions of the Force came to an end in February 1999, when the Security Council failed to renew the mandate due to the veto of China.27 Speaking after the vote, the Chinese delegate said his Government had always maintained that UN peacekeeping operations, including preventive deployment missions should not be open ended. China considered the situation there to have stabilized. This view was not shared by other members of the Security Council, who especially feared a spillover of violence from Kosovo across the border. In reality it had more to do with the issue of Macedonia’s policy regarding Taiwan than any issue related to peacekeeping.28

In January 2003, EU foreign ministers approved the first ever EU peacekeeping mission (operation Concordia), and agreed to replace the NATO peacekeeping operation that took over when the UN mission was vetoed by China.29 After making a commitment to the EU preventive deployment force, Defence Force personnel were allocated a number of positions on the EU lead mission to Macedonia. Soon after, Ireland withdrew its commitment to contribute personnel to the operation. This was a source of significant embarrassment to Irish diplomats at the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Forces.30 The Irish Attorney General advised the government that Ireland could not contribute troops to this mission, as it did not satisfy commitments made by Ireland as part of the Seville declaration prior to the Nice Treaty referendum. This has serious consequences for Irish foreign policy, both within the EU, and with regard to participation in future peacekeeping operations.

The UN in general, and the Secretary-General in particular, has made conflict prevention the cornerstone of the Organization’s quest to promote a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous world. There have been numerous reports and resolutions stressing that conflict prevention lies at the heart of the mandate of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Macedonia, where deployment of UN troops succeeded in containing the violence, and preventing a spillover of tensions from neighbouring Yugoslavia and Kosovo.

The Irish Decision not to Participate

Although Ireland’s policy regarding participation in peace operations has undergone significant progressive development to take account of the changed international security environment, important legal restrictions on what the government may agree to remain in force. Policy changes reflect an acknowledgement that there will always be a need for traditional peacekeeping, but there may not always be need for Irish personnel to form part of such operations. The support from Ireland for the inclusion of the so called Petersburg tasks of peacekeeping and similar humanitarian tasks into the Amsterdam Treaty on Europe indicated a growing awareness of the need to respond to the changing international security environment. The 2000 White Paper on Defence also recognized the changing trends in international peace support operations, while at the same time the government has consistently stressed that participation in UN approved European peace initiatives does not change Ireland’s traditional policy on military neutrality. This may well be official government policy, but it is hard to reconcile with the fact of participation with other European states in military operations of whatever nature, and the increasing co-operation provided for EU states under the Nice and Lisbon treaties.31

At about 350 soldiers from a wide range of countries, the EU mission was described as small but significant.32 The origin of Ireland’s dilemma regarding participation in the peacekeeping mission in Macedonia are clear in the criteria outlined above, especially the need for the operation to derive its legitimacy from a decision of the Security Council. Ireland reneged on its initial commitment, as the EU mission did not have a UN mandate. Despite Ireland’s withdrawal from the EU mission to Macedonia, it still paid its share of the operating costs.

Under the so-called ‘triple lock’ mechanism, before Ireland can participate in a peacekeeping mission it must be UN authorised, and approved by the Dáil (Irish parliament) and Government.33 At the Seville European Council in June 2002, the Irish Government made a National Declaration. This stated, inter alia, that the Treaty of Nice does not affect Ireland’s policy of military neutrality, and that a referendum will be held in Ireland on joining any future common defence. It provides that Ireland reiterates that the participation of contingents of the Irish Defence Forces in overseas operations, including those carried out under European security and defence policy, requires (a) the authorization of the operation by the Security Council or the General Assembly of the United Nations, (b) the agreement of the Irish Government and (c) the approval of Dáil Eireann, in accordance with Irish law. A similar national declaration was associated with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

No one can take issue with the necessity for parliament and government approval, but what is to happen when a permanent member of the Security Council prevents UN authorization. One of the many interesting aspects of the declaration is that when the Minister for Foreign Affairs first mentioned this ‘triple lock’ mechanism, the Minister referred to ‘UN endorsement’.34 Sometime later this became UN authorisation, this is a very significant change that was especially relevant to the situation in Macedonia.35 The UN Security Council had adopted a resolution that ‘welcomes’ and ‘endorses’ the involvement and support of the European Union for the Framework Agreement to consolidate a multi-ethnic society within Macedonia.36 However, from a legal perspective, this falls short of authorizing the EU mission to Macedonia, especially when the veto by the Chinese in the Security Council is taken into account.

The Declaration added another legal dimension to Irish participation in peace support operations. The Defence (Amendment) Act, 1993 (later amended by the 2006 Act), defined an ‘International United Nations Force’ as an international force or body established by the Security Council or General Assembly of the UN. This expanded the previous definition contained in the 1960 Act which had limited Defence Force participation to UN peacekeeping operations. It brought about a significant change in Irish defence and foreign policy that was not reflected in the level of public or parliamentary debate at the time. Although the Dáil debate indicated that at least some did appreciate the wider ramifications of the change in Irish municipal law, it seemed that the Dáil as a whole did not.37 It is unlikely that the new legislation would have had such an uncontroversial passage but for the humanitarian considerations in sending an Irish army transport unit to Somalia and the presence of Irish aid workers in that country.

Irish participation in peace operations is now governed by both the relevant Defence Acts and the national declaration associated with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. There has been much debate in Ireland in recent years about European security and defence issues. The decision to join the NATO sponsored Partnership for Peace (PfP) was controversial. It is likely the perceived militarization of Europe and a fear that the Nice Treaty would lead to Irish involvement in European defence issues contributed to the decision of the Irish electorate to reject the Nice Treaty in the first referendum on the issue in early 2001.38 In order to reassure the Irish electorate on the issue of Irish military neutrality and participation in EU military operations during the second referendum campaign, the Government made the Seville Declaration, which was accepted by all the EU member states. A similar national declaration was associated with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The problem that will confront Ireland in future years is participation in UN approved, but not formally mandated operations. If the UN hands over the responsibility of peacekeeping operations to the EU without a formal Security Council or General Assembly mandate, this will present Ireland with the same problem that arose with the mission to Macedonia.


The power of the permanent members of the UN Security Council to veto mandates at their instigation or renewal remains a real threat to UN authorised peace operations. The inability of the UN to adopt any meaningful resolution on Syria is a prime example. During the summer of 2002, the United States threatened to veto the renewal of crucial mandates for UN peace operations unless a mechanism was agreed to prevent US personnel on UN related missions coming under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.39 At the time Irish troops part of UN operations had to prepare to return home if the necessary mandate was not renewed. Finland and Sweden faced a similar dilemma. Ireland is likely to face similar issues in the future. The EU military mission to Macedonia was a lightly armed preventive deployment of peacekeepers in the European theatre. It would be difficult to find a more worthy and less controversial peacekeeping operation, but Ireland found itself sidelined from the EU’s first tentative steps to play a meaningful role in support of this small and vulnerable European country.

The Green Paper provides that ‘[I]t is acknowledged that there is substantial public support for the triple lock mechanism and that, in practical terms, due to the size of our Defence Forces, the State only has a limited capacity to contribute to UN Missions. …..On balance, the advantages of retaining the mechanism can be seen as outweighing the disadvantages. Having said that, it is an issue worthy of discussion in advance of the adoption of a new policy’.

While it is regrettable that Ireland and other states have effectively allowed any permanent member of the Security Council determine future participation in peace support operations, irrespective of the merits involved, the question remains whether it has any choice?

According to Green Paper, Ireland will continue to advocate a strong and effective United Nations; to play an active role in peace support operations; and to support efforts towards UN reform.40 The Green Paper also acknowledges that Ireland is committed to the security cooperation that is necessary in order to underpin the political, economic and social wellbeing of the EU, which has been underpinned by the ratification of successive EU treaties. Ireland is strongly committed to remaining at the heart of Europe and will continue to work on the full range of policy priorities in the EU, including security and defence. This reflects a potential conflict of interest for Ireland. What if our EU partners, owing to deadlock in the Security Council, decide to operate outside the framework of the UN?

  1. UN Security Council or General Assembly Approval for Participation in Peace Operations

The key issue relating to peacekeeping and Irish foreign policy arising from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Challenges and Opportunities Abroad, White Paper on Foreign Policy (1996), was the focus on maintaining military neutrality while fostering a security role within Europe.41 The security role within Europe was expanded upon in the Department of Defence, White Paper on Defence (2000) with a commitment to pledge troops to the European Rapid Reaction Force.42 The participation in UN led and sponsored operations is not a controversial issue, but contracting out peace operations to regional organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU may present problems for Ireland in the future.

Taking into account Ireland’s commitment to the United Nations and to multi-lateral diplomacy, it is recommended that participation in international peace operations continue to remain contingent on United Nations Security Council or General Assembly approval. This is also linked to the issue of military neutrality.

  1. Military Neutrality

The acknowledgement of the requirement for policy clarity with regard to the military contribution to the response to collective security, which recognises the limitations of military neutrality as a broader response to these threats is welcome. In the past, successive governments have eschewed discussion of what military neutrality actually means for Ireland.

Cooperation or collaboration with other democratic and like minded states will not necessarily compromise military neutrality. Nevertheless, any military involvement or participation in crisis management, peace operations or related activities outside of Ireland must be within the framework of the UN Charter and international law.

  1. Criteria for Participation in Peace Operations

It is recommended that there be no significant change to the current criteria outlined in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Challenges and Opportunities Abroad, White Paper on Foreign Policy, (1996), and Department of Defence, White Paper on Defence (2000).

  1. Cost Implications for Ireland

At one time there was controversy regarding Irish participation in UN peacekeeping owing to the backlog in reimbursement of expenses from the UN.43 Reports gave the impression that Ireland was losing considerable sums of money, especially in Lebanon.44 The financial implications are not as simple as might appear at first glance, and it can be argued that, far from being a loss making exercise, UN operations can be a net contributor to the Irish exchequer, especially as commitments were met from within existing resources.45 In contrast, the UN does not reimburse costs where the mission is one on which the UN has requested a regional organisation to launch and manage the military operation on its behalf and under its authority. In this way, unlike UN-led missions, Ireland is not entitled to any reimbursement in respect of Defence Forces participation in EU-led or NATO-led missions as all troop contributors to such missions are responsible for their own costs. The majority of the cost of participation in UN mandated operations led by regional organisations such as the EU falls on the Exchequer.46 Such commitments should not be made in the future owing to the financial implications for a heavily in debt country facing enormous fiscal challenges in the foreseeable future. Although the primary reason for participation in UN led missions should be their international legitimacy, it is important that Ireland not undertake any operational missions that will incur a significant cost to the exchequer. This would include potential deployments as part of an EU Battle Group.

  1. Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law

An express commitment by the Defence Forces to uphold human rights and international humanitarian law principles enshrined in relevant treaties and international customary law would be welcome.

  1. Aid to the civil power

It makes sense for the Defence Forces, the Gardaí and other state agencies to co-operate both in terms of shared information and operational capacity on the ground. The reasoning is well set out in the Green Paper but the primary role of the Gardaí in law enforcement should always be emphasised.

The Green Paper is replete with references to the threat from organised crime. This reflects references to a similar threat outlined in the EU 2003 European Security Strategy document. In recent years Ireland has seen a significant rise in organised criminal activities. However, none of these present an existential threat to the state. They reflect ordinary criminality, albeit with links to paramilitary groups in some cases. Ireland is not a post conflict Kosovo or Columbia. For this reason, the suggestion that there is a serious threat requiring the involvement of the Defence Forces needs to be challenged. A healthy democracy maintains a clear distinction between the role of military and law enforcement agencies. There is a real danger that this may become blurred in the potential roles assigned to the Defence Forces.
In a recent article in the Irish Times, Conor Brady referred to the time when elements from army intelligence became involved in illegal attempts to import arms under cover of a government approved operation. Later government ministers provided contradictory accounts of the affair. However, it was the Garda Special Branch that foiled the plot. Likewise, in more recent times it was army intelligence that was alerted to illegal activities of rogue Garda elements.
The threat from organised crimes should not be overstated. Although there are ‘checks and balances’ in place to oversee the exercise of surveillance and related activities that may be undertaken by the Defence Forces, the military should be restricted to clearly defined and exclusively military roles.

1 Department of Foreign Affairs, Challenges and Opportunities Abroad, White Paper on Foreign Policy, Dublin, (1996), 149-167, and Department of Defence, White Paper on Defence, Dublin, (February, 2000), 59 - 70.

2 See Department of Defence, Defence Forces Annual Report, Dublin, (1999), 32-38 and Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland’s Involvement in International Police Missions – A Discussion Paper, Dublin, (November, 1999). See also J.P. Duggan, A History of the Irish Army, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, (1991), 249-278 and An Cosantoir – The Defence Forces Magazine, UN Anniversary Edition, (October 1995).

3 See J. Morrison Skelly, Irish Diplomacy at the United Nations, 1945-65, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, (1997).

4 Skelly, op. cit. and Michael J. Kennedy, Ireland and the League of Nations, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, (1996). See also Norman J.D. McQueen, ‘Irish Neutrality: the United Nations and the Peacekeeping Experience 1945-1969’, D. Phil. thesis, New University of Ulster, 1981, esp. the Introduction 1-13. Nina Heathcote, ‘Ireland and the United Nations Operation in the Congo’, 111 International Relations, (May 1971), 880. Patrick Keatinge, The Formulation of Irish Foreign Policy: Dublin, Institute of Public Administration, (1973), 7 and 83-86; and A Place Among the Nations: Dublin, Institute of Public Administration, (1978), 158-161.

5 The Defence (Amendment) Act, 1993. This was subsequently amended by the Defence (Amendment) Act, 2006.

6 Supra, n. 1.

7 White Paper on Defence, 12.

8 See criticisms by Mr. T. Murray, a former government consultant who reviewed the Defence Forces, The Irish Times, 4 March 2000, 10. He was especially critical of the treatment of the Naval Service and Air Corps. For the view of the Minister for Defence, M. Smith, see The Irish Times, 26 April 2000, 16.

9 See for example, Jim Cusack, The Irish Times, 9 February, 2000, 3, where a former Chief of Staff asked the Taoiseach to intervene in the dispute.

10 See for example the debate on participation in KFOR, Dáil Debates 507, (852-869), 1 July 1999.


See the comments by Pat Kenny and others on ‘Kenny Live’, 25 April 1998. The two hour RTE television show was exclusively devoted to the Defence Forces and UN peacekeeping.

12 ‘We in the Government have balanced the pros and cons [of membership]. In our circumstances, although it is impossible to be enthusiastic, I think we have a duty as member of the world community to do our share in trying to bring about general conditions which will make for the maintenance of peace ‘, Dáil Debates, 102 (1325), 24 July 1946.

13 Personal interview, senior Department of Foreign Affairs official, Department of Foreign Affairs, Dublin, May 1997; and personal interview, senior serving Defence Forces officer, Department of Defence, Dublin, May 1997. See also the article by Lt. Gen. G. McMahon, retired Chief of Staff, in The Irish Times, 8 October 1998, 16 and the statements by the General Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. P. MacKernan, quoted in The Irish Times, 29 October 1998, 9.

Ireland’s willingness to participate in SFOR, despite reservations, was also based upon pragmatic considerations and a desire to play as full a role as possible in world affairs for a country of its size and resources, see Dáil Debates 479 (514-539), 14 May 1997.

14 Figures supplied by Military Archives, Department of Defence, Dublin, August 1997.

15 See generally R. Murphy, ‘Legal Framework of UN Forces and Issues of Command and Control of Canadian and Irish Forces’, 4 Journal of Armed Conflict Law, (June 1999), 41 –73; and R. Murphy, ‘Ireland: Legal issues arising from participation in United Nations operations’, 1(2) International Peacekeeping (Kluwer), (March-May 1994), 61-64.

16 See generally D. Sarooshi, The United Nations and the Development of Collective Security, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1999), esp. Chapters 6 and 7.

17 Article 23f Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz 1929 (Federal Constitution of 1929) amended on 1 February 2003.

See White Paper on Defence, 63 and White Paper on Foreign Policy,194-195.

  • White Paper on Foreign Policy, op. cit., 199-200.

Lt. Col. Ernest Reumiller, ‘Canadian Perspectives and Experiences with Peacekeeping’ paper delivered to seminar on Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking/Peacekeeping: the Irish and Canadian Experiences, Dublin, Association of Canadian Studies in Ireland, May 1997.

18 See reported warning by Defence Forces Chief of Staff that Irish peacekeepers are facing competition, The Irish Times, 5 October 1995; and the Defence Strategy Statements, 15.

19 The Irish Defence forces established a UN Training School in 1993, and agreed to participate in UN Stand-By forces in 1996. See also ‘Improving the UN’s Rapid Deployment Capability: A Canadian Study’, February 1995; ‘A UN Rapid Deployment Brigade: the Netherlands Paper’, January 1995; and ‘A Multifunctional UN Stand By Forces High Readiness Brigade: Chief of Defence, Denmark’, 25 January 1995.

20 See Dáil Debates 472 (701-725), 4 December 1996 and The Irish Times, 22 and 28 November 1996.

21 Dáil Debates 479 (514-539), 14 May 1997 and The Irish Times, 23 January, 28 April and 8 May 1997.

22 Personal Interview, op. cit, n. 1. See also Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland and the Partnership for Peace, an explanatory guide, Dublin, 1999. It had been hoped to send a company strength contingent to SFOR, but some fifty personnel in a military police capacity was ultimately agreed.

23 Dáil Debates, 507, (852-86), 1 July 1999. See also The Irish Times, 31 August 1999 and 1 and 2 July 1999.

24 See statement by Irish Minister for Defence, Mr. Smith, to the Irish Senate (Seanad Eireann), 13 November 2003. R. Murphy, ‘Liberia mission involves significant risks’, The Irish Times, 26 November 2003, p. 18.

25 See The Irish Times, 20 January 2004, p. 10 and 15 November 2003, p. 15.

26 Security Council Resolution 983 (1995), UN Doc. S/RES/995, 31 March 1995.

27 Press Release SC/6648 25 February 1999.

28 ‘China - Macedonia Set to Cut Ties with Taiwan’, People’s Daily, 1 June 2001.

29 Agence France Presse (AFP), 27 January 2003 and 13 December 2002.

30 Personal interview, Department of Foreign Affairs official, Dublin, March 2003.

31 See the Nice Treaty White Paper, Dublin: Government Publications, (2001), and The Irish Times, 29 March 2001, 8. See also J. Maguire, Defending Peace - For an Alternative to NATO/PfP and a Militarized Europe, Afri, Dublin, (1999); and Afri Position Paper No. 2, Towards Real Security - A Contribution to the Debate on Irish Defence and Security Planning, Dublin, (1999), and Comhlámh, Focus, Issue 62, Dublin, (Aug/Sep 2000), 16-24.

32 Statement attributed to German Vice-Admiral Rainer Feist, who was selected to lead the mission, see E. Saskova, ‘Macedonia: Debut for Euro Troops’, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 25 February 2003.

33 Department of Foreign Affairs Press Release, Wednesday, June 19, 2002. .

34 Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowan, Adjournment Debate on Seville Declaration on Neutrality, 19 June 2002, available from .

35 Second Stage Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowan, 26th. Amendment to the Constitution Bill, 4 September 2002, available from .

36 Security Council Resolution 1371 (2001), UN DOC S/RES/1371, 26 September 2001, paras. 4 and 5. See also Framework Agreement signed at Skopje on 13 August 2001 by the President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the leaders of four political parties.

37 Dáil Debates 433, (309, 363, 376), 29 June 1993.

38 A second referendum was held in 2002, and on this occasion a clear majority voted in favour of Irish ratification of the Nice Treaty thus clearing the way for enlargement of the EU.

39 Security Council Resolution 1422 of 12 July 2002. This was renewed by Security Council Resolution 1487 of 12 June 2003.

40 Green Paper, Policy Intent, para. 2.4.

41 White Paper on Foreign Policy, 191-205. In considering the constitutional implications of a policy of neutrality, the Report of the Constitution Review Group stated that neutrality has ‘always been a policy as distinct from a fundamental law or principle, and the Review Group sees no reason to propose a change in this position,’ Report of the Constitution Review Group, May 1996, Dublin: Government Publications, 93.

42 White Paper on Defence, 15-18, The Irish Times, 31 October and 1 November 2000, 16, 17. At the Helsinki EU Summit of December 1999, it was agreed that by 2003, the EU would be in a position to deploy a 60,000 military force, see Presidency Conclusions Helsinki European Council Annex IV, Brussels, European Council 1999, and P. Gillespie, The Irish Times, 20 May 2000.

43 See comments by Ireland to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, UN General Assembly, Document A/AC.121/36/Add.1, 4 April 1989, 4-9.

44 See The Irish Times, 15 April 1993, and 15 and 17 May 1993.

45 This was especially evident in 1986 when a former Secretary of the Department of Defence informed the Committee of Public Account that Ireland had made some five million pounds profit from its involvement in UNIFIL, and would at that time have made a further net gain of nearly sixteen million if defaulting nations had paid their dues at the UN. This was confirmed by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs who said: ‘There has been no additional cost to the Irish taxpayer for keeping troops stationed in Lebanon over and above what it would have cost to keep them in Ireland’, see The Irish Times, 10 September 1986.

46 Green Paper, para. 4.3.1 Economic Resources.

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