Search Speeches
Home > Speeches > Speech
Statement by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., on the Motion seeking approval for the despatch of a Contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, the EU-led Mission/Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Chairman, Members,

I would like to thank the Committee for agreeing to take this motion at very short notice.

As you are aware, under the Defence Acts, the deployment of a contingent of the Defence Forces on an overseas mission requires prior UN authorisation, Government approval and the approval of Dáil Éireann. This process is referred to as “the triple lock”. The “triple lock” is a cornerstone of this Government’s approach to deploying our Defence Forces overseas.

The Government had expected that the necessary Security Council Resolution would have been passed by the end of October. However, for various reasons, this did not happen. The requisite motion was passed - unanimously - by the Security Council on Monday last, the 22nd November.

Because of the delay in finalising the Resolution at the Security Council, this has imposed significant time constraints on Ireland completing its national decision-making procedures. The EU is due to take over the mission on the 2nd of December and our troops have to be deployed, in theatre, prior to the commencement date.

As I’m sure the members will appreciate, it would have been inappropriate to bring a motion before the Dáil, in the absence of the final UN Security Council Resolution authorising the establishment of EUFOR.

I therefore appreciate the fact that the Committee understand the importance of the mission and have agreed to fit this motion into your busy schedule. I thank the Chairman for his assistance in expediting this.

I don’t wish to take up too much of the Committee’s time, so I propose to introduce the motion and provide some brief information and background on the proposed Defence Forces participation in this mission.

Decision of the Government in relation to EUFOR
On 9th November, 2004, the Government authorised me, as Minister for Defence, to, inter alia

Arrange for the dispatch a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force, for a period of one year, for service with EUFOR, the EU-led Mission/Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be established under the authority of the UN, as the legal successor to the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and

to move a resolution in Dáil Éireann approving the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR.

The Government decision was subject to the passage of the formal UN Resolution authorising the establishment of EUFOR.

Pursuant to this authority and the passage of the appropriate Security Council Resolution, the following motion has been placed on the Order Paper for Dáil Éireann:

“That Dáil Éireann approves the despatch, pursuant to section 2 of the Defence (Amendment)(No. 2) Act, 1960, as applied by Defence (Amendment) Act, 1993, of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, established under the authority of UN Security Resolution No. 1575 of the 22nd November, 2004”.

In commending this motion to you, I would like to outline the background to EUFOR and the reason the Government decided to authorise the despatch a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the new multinational stabilisation force, EUFOR, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Background
EUFOR is the Legal successor to the current SFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. SFOR was established in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1088 of 12th December, 1996, with a mandate to implement the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, usually referred to as the ‘Dayton Agreement’.

Members of the Defence Forces have served with SFOR since 1997, following Government Decision and the subsequent approval by Dáil Éireann of the necessary enabling motion. Since then, the UN Security Council has authorised the continuation of SFOR for successive periods and the Government has approved continued Irish participation.

At the Copenhagen European Council in December, 2002, the heads of State of the EU indicated willingness to lead a military operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a follow-on mission to SFOR. The EU Council conclusions, dated 12th December, 2003, reaffirmed this willingness and the Government agreed that, subject to completion of national decision-making procedures and the appropriate UN Mandate, that the Defence Forces would participate in a substantive manner in the then planned EU mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Establishment and mandate to EUFOR
During the Course of Ireland’s EU Presidency, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, as President of the EU Council, wrote to the UN Secretary General setting out the terms of the EU takeover of the UN authorised mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In its resolution 1551 of 9th July, 2004, the UN Security Council welcomed the EU’s intention to launch a mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including a military component from December, 2004. The EU Council on the 12th July, 2004, adopted a Joint Action by which the European Union shall conduct a military operation (Althea/EUFOR) as a follow-on mission to SFOR.

EUFOR was established as the military component of the new EU-led mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina under UN Security Council Resolution 1575 of 22nd November, 2004, for a period of 12 months.

Similar to SFOR, EUFOR will be a Chapter VII mission; that is, it is entitled to use force to implement its mandates and to protect itself and the international civil presence.

The role of EUFOR will be to assist the parties, in an even handed manner, to implement the peace accord to which they have freely agreed and to contribute to the continued development of the secure environment necessary for the consolidation and stabilisation of peace in the region.

EUFOR will co-operate and work with the other agencies principally involved, including: the Office of the High Representative (currently Mr Paddy Ashdown), the EU Police Mission, the UN agencies including U.N.H.C.R, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia and the O.S.C.E.

This cooperation covers a wide range of activities, including maintaining security and preventing a resumption of violence, supporting counter terrorism and the fight against organised crime, facilitating freedom of movement for the local population and assisting the return of refugees.

Basis for Ireland’s Participation
The basis of Ireland’s participation in International Peacekeeping is firmly grounded in the UN. Ireland is - and always has been - a strong and committed supporter of cooperative multilateral arrangements for collective security through the development of international organisations, particularly the United Nations.

Successive Governments have confirmed Ireland’s position in relation to the UN as the international authority for cooperative arrangements for collective security. In tandem with this, Ireland has recognised and defended the primary role of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The UN has recognised the advantages presented by the existence of regional organisations to which it can assign a mission. Reliance on regional organisations to take the lead on UN authorised missions, is one of the major developments in the changing environment of UN peacekeeping over recent years.

The increasing reliance of the UN on regional action for crisis management has, in part, contributed to the impetus towards development of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which focuses on crisis management and humanitarian operations, the so-called “Petersberg Tasks”.

The European Union now has the capacity to mount peacekeeping operations. It has engaged in two military operations so far, in Macedonia and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Operation ‘Artemis’ in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which the Defence Forces played an active part, is an example of the potential inherent in this development, where the EU provided a force, under a UN Security Council resolution, with France as the framework nation.

Similar developments are occurring between the UN and other regional organisations. In the case of Liberia, the initial deployment of troops was from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); in the case of Kosovo, it was N.A.T.O.

UN-EU co-operation is being continuously developed to ensure a coherent and complementary response to Crisis Management Operations. As the Members of the Committee will be aware, when the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan visited Ireland recently, he welcomed the developments in ESDP and, in particular, the development of EU Rapid Response Elements which could be deployed at short notice in support of UN peacekeeping operations.

There is also increasing cooperation between the UN and the EU in the area of crisis management, with EU involvement, in the areas of “rule of law” (courts, prisons), civil administration and civil protection (including response to natural disasters). The increasing necessity for post-conflict peace-building has also called for the involvement of civilian police, typically including a training element and the Gárdaí have participated in a number of such operations and have built up a capacity in this field that is well recognised internationally.

The touchstone for Ireland’s participation in overseas missions continues to be the UN. Decisions on Irish participation in ESDP missions are taken on a case by case basis, and are subject to the “triple lock” approach.

Irish participation in ESDP operations is fully in keeping with Ireland’s commitment to the UN and our policy of military neutrality. Our activities in the ESDP and the UN are complementary and mutually reinforcing.

The development of ESDP and Ireland’s commitment to EUHHG (EU Rapid Reaction Force) are seen as providing an asset, which can act in an effective and cohesive manner to further international peace and security based on international law and humanitarian principles.

Ireland is a strong supporter of a substantive involvement by the EU in crisis management missions within the framework of ESDP. The focus of Ireland’s participation in these arrangements is to develop a capability within the Defence Forces to undertake multinational peace support operations with the optimum level of interoperability with other participating countries, reflecting our commitment to collective international peace and security.

Against this background, the Government is fully supportive of the participation of the Defence Forces in a substantive manner in the EUFOR mission. The enhanced capability being developed, arising from our preparations for the EU Rapid Reaction Force and from our participation in operations, such as EUFOR, will serve to maintain and further develop Ireland’s effective involvement in peace support operations in support of the UN.

Irish participation in EUFOR
The Defence Forces initial deployment with SFOR involved the deployment of a military police contingent. In January 2003, the Military Police contingent was withdrawn, as part of an overall restructuring of the Defence Forces deployment in the Western Balkans, which included withdrawal of a Transport Company and the deployment of an Infantry Company Group, in its stead, to the UN-authorised mission in Kosova, KFOR. As part of this restructuring, twelve members of the Permanent Defence Force continued to serve in SFOR HQ.

The current personnel deployed in SFOR HQ will transfer to EUFOR upon the take-over of the mission by the EU. It is proposed to deploy an additional 42 personnel to EUFOR as part of a Finnish-led Multinational Task Force. This will bring Ireland’s total deployment in the mission to 54. As is the case in all missions, a small number of additional personnel may be deployed, from time to time, to fill other roles within the overall mission.

Together with Ireland, the Finish-led Multinational Task Force will comprise personnel from Finland, Austria, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Estonia, and Belgium. Other nations currently serving with SFOR - Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom, will also participate in EUFOR.

Within the Finnish-led Task Force, Ireland will provide personnel for the Headquarters, the Military Police Unit, Joint Military Affairs Verification Teams and a National Support Element. An officer will also serve at the Operational Headquarters in SHAPE.

Ireland is the Framework Nation for the Military Police Unit and for the Joint Military Affairs Verification Teams; that is, it provides the central headquarters role in relation to these elements within the Task Force headquarters. In the case of the Military Police role, we can obviously build on the experience of our previous Military Police deployment in the mission. Under the Dayton Agreement, the Joint Military Affairs Verification Teams were established to monitor arms caches and arms movements by the two forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The teams are advised as to weapons purchases and movements, and inspect the arms holdings of the two forces and monitor their movements, including the movements and training of military personnel of the two forces, to ensure that both sides comply with their obligations under the Dayton accord. Ireland The UN regularly seeks observers and monitors from the Defence Forces, which is recognised as having key skills in this area and which is a hallmark of many of our smaller deployments around the world.

Deployment of Contingent
Initial planning and reconnaissance with a view to deployment of the contingent has commenced. Advance parties for each element, amounting to 11 personnel, have been deployed to put in place the requisite arrangements for the proposed deployment of the contingent. Subject to Dáil approval, deployment to EUFOR will take place next week with a view to commencing operations on the takeover of the mission by the EU on 2nd December. Initial deployment would be for 1 year, with the possible extension thereafter, subject to renewal of the UN mandate and a satisfactory review of the mission.

Risk Assessment
The Security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently assessed as stable, primarily due to the strong International Community presence in the country. The attitude of the political parties and of the general public in Bosnia and Herzegovina to an increased EU presence ranges from neutral to positive. The phase during the handover by SFOR to EUFOR could be used by some elements to increase their activities. Disaffected parts of the population may also use this period to express discontent with their socio-economic situation. Thus far, however, there have been no concrete indications that any such activities are planned.

Financial Aspects
Similar to SFOR, all troop contributors to EUFOR are responsible for their own costs. It is estimated that the additional costs to the Defence Vote arising from participation in EUFOR will amount to €3,458,456. This includes Ireland’s contribution of €877,000 to common costs, in accordance with EU Council Decision of 17th June, 2002, regarding the financing of operations having military of defence implications. The common cost contribution will be payable through the ATHENA mechanism, which is responsible at EU level for the collection of Member States contributions and disbursement of monies received in respect of operational common costs.

Conclusion
This is a very important mission for the EU and for Ireland. It is a mission undertaken under UN authorisation and is the largest EU mission yet deployed.

Its success will signal the strength of the EU’s capability to undertake a robust and large-scale mission. It will also signal the EU’s capacity to provide a real and substantive response to requests from the United Nations for us to undertake increasingly complex peace support operations.

It reaffirms our support for the UN and multilateral-ism in a meaningful and substantive way.

I commend the motion to the committee.


Related Speeches
25 November 2004
Statement by the Government Chief Whip & Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Mr Tom Kitt T.D. on the Motion seeking approval for the despatch of a Contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, the EU-led Mission/Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Thursday, 25 November 2004
24 November 2004
Statement by the Minister for Defence, Mr. Willie O’Dea, T.D., on the Motion seeking approval for the despatch of a Contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUFOR, the EU-led Mission/Operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Contact Us

Department of Defence
Station Road
Newbridge
Co. Kildare

Tel 00 353 45 492000
Fax 00 353 45 492017
* loCall 1890 251890

emailinfo@defence.ie

* Note that the rates charged for the use of 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers