Ireland officially launched their UN Security Council bid for a 2021-2022 seat.
The green carpet was rolled out at the United Nations on Monday evening, July 2, as Ireland and two of its brightest stars, Bono and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, officially launched their country’s bid for one of the rotating seats on the UN Security Council for the 2021-’22 term.
Bono and Varadkar were also joined at the garden party on the UN’s North Lawn by Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and former Irish President and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, all of whom gave speeches detailing Ireland’s history of conflict and compromise, and how Irish resiliency is a perfect quality for the work that the Security Council undertakes.
The speech Bono gave to the several hundred guests at the party, many of whom represented other UN member nations, stressed his belief that the institution itself is “under attack,” and that its future existence shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“I love this building. I love the architecture, I love that it exists, and I’ll tell you what, I don’t take for granted that it exists or that it will continue to exist,” he said.
“Because let’s be honest, we live in a time when institutions as vital to human progress as the United Nations is under attack. The EU is threatened, the G7 is being threatened, NATO is being threatened, the WTO is being threatened. What’s left?”
Bono never mentioned President Trump by name, but the U2 frontman and long-time human rights activist made clear his displeasure at Trump’s America First policies.
“It’s not just these institutions but what they stand for, an international order based on shared values and shared rules, an international order that is facing the greatest test in its 70-year history. Not just these institutions but what they’ve achieved is at risk. Paris…f***, what is that?” Bono said, referring to the international Paris Agreement on climate change that Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.
“So I just want to say to everyone gathered here, I’m really glad to see you, I hope I continue to see you, I hope we grow old together. But if that’s what we want we all have some work to do.”
Bono said Ireland would be an outstanding member of the Security Council should the country win election over Norway and Canada which are also vying for the seat. Irish history, he added, dovetails with the stories of many other member nations, and Ireland has plenty of lessons to teach.
“If you look at the agenda of what the Security Council will be called on to address over the coming years, doesn’t it look a lot like us? We’d like to think Ireland’s experience of colonialism, conflict, famine and mass migration give us a kind of hard-earned expertise in these problems, and I hope an empathy. I hope humility, though I might have missed that particular memo,” he joked.
We have not forgotten how it feels to have the ground shake beneath your feet ... we have not forgotten the help we had from this community - Bono, #IrelandUNSC— IrishCentral (@IrishCentral) July 2, 2018
“Why do Irish people so revere an organization that is committed to human rights and human dignity? Because we have so often had those very rights and dignity taken away from us. Why are the Irish so committed to international cooperation? Because our little island can’t exist without it,” Bono added.
“Doesn’t all of this give Ireland something very valuable to say to other nations with similar issues?”
In concluding, Bono stressed the importance of two Irish qualities: compromise and storytelling, and how both will be sorely needed in the years ahead.
“The most important word in the English language, outside of love, matters -- compromise. Because that’s how you achieve peace,” Bono said.
I hope you see Ireland, as representatives of your countries, as I see Ireland, as the fiercest and warmest of friends. - Bono, #IrelandUNSC— IrishCentral (@IrishCentral) July 2, 2018
“Compromise is a word that the Irish people understand very well. It’s part of our story, our recent story, and we are storytellers. If you need some storytellers to describe what’s really important about this place, and I believe you do, let us tell a story.
“We in Ireland are products of our past but we are not prisoners of it. We are not trapped by our story and neither are you.”
Varadkar also espoused Ireland’s respect for the UN and its commitment to the world body’s goals.
“Our membership of the United Nations helped us to take our place among the nations of the world. We support a rules-based order in international affairs. We have acted as a voice for the disadvantaged and defenseless, promoting freedom and defending human rights,” he said.
“In areas such as peacekeeping, disarmament, sustainable development, human rights and humanitarian assistance we have matched our words with our actions.
“We are conscious that our contribution is most effective in partnership with the wider international community. The Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are two examples of the power and potential of multilateral partnerships.
“For these, and other challenges, Ireland brings a particular perspective, shaped by our history and our geography.
“Our perspective on conflict resolution and reconciliation is informed by the long history of conflict and division on our island, and our success in bringing it to an end. We learned that it takes two to fight, but many to make a lasting peace.
“Our wish to engage with the wider world propelled us to join the UN many decades ago and it remains undiminished today. We have always sought to be an active and fair member of the international community. Today we believe we can do more.”
The party, which was presided over by Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Byrne Nason, featured Irish music from Mick Moloney, Athena Tergis and others, and Irish dance from the Mulvihill School and Niall O’Leary. All the food offerings were Irish, and the Guinness was flowing too.
Guests were also treated to a genealogy tent where they could check if they had some Irish roots. There was also a tent with many members of the Irish Defence Forces, to mark Ireland’s 60-year anniversary of taking part in UN peacekeeping efforts.
Ireland has had three previous two-year terms on the UN Security Council—1962, 1981 and 2001—which is comprised of five permanent members and 10 non-permanent. The vote for the 2021 term will take place among the 193 UN member nations in June of 2020.
On Sunday night, U2 hosted some 150 UN ambassadors at Madison Square Garden for the band’s second last concert in the U.S. this year.