President Higgins spoke of the role of UN members in the new “arms race,” where “the arms industry now exports weapons of death and destruction for use in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen”, saying: “the self-defeating rhetoric of the arms race, and the immorality of the arms trade, only serve to fuel current and future wars.”
He added: “The conflict in Yemen is actively sustained by the sale of arms and by the support of some members of the Security Council. It is a stark example of the triumph of the diplomacy of transaction, and of narrow national interest, over the diplomacy of the common good embodied by the Charter of the United Nations. The United Nations needs global support. Imperfect as all institutions may be, it is our best space for alternatives to war and ecological destruction.
President Higgins acknowledged the role of Irish humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide in tackling the fallout of such action, and said: “Through fifty years of action and advocacy, Concern has stood for a different vision of the world, one in which power yields to justice, one which recognises that we are all part of a common humanity, owing to ourselves and to others, not only of compassion, but of solidarity.”
President Higgins said the reduction of famines in recent times is “testament to the success of United Nations agencies such as the World Food Programme and UNICEF, now under severe threat through underfunding, working in partnership with humanitarian organisations such as Concern.”
Further acknowledging the role of Concern over the last fifty years, he said: “That revolutionary year of 1968 witnessed not only the emergence of a new humanitarian conscience in the Global North, in response to the television images of famine and suffering in Africa, through the formation of organisation such as Concern, but also a moment of emancipation and liberation across the world, all amidst the turmoil and tragedy of the Cold War.”