Seminar on Foreign Policy Accountability at NUI Galway

Monday, 22 October 2007

A public lecture on the issue of Accountability in Foreign Policy and the role of Foreign Affairs Committees in delivering such accountability will be given on Thursday, 25 October, 2007 at NUI Galway by Michael D. Higgins T.D., President and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs for the Labour Party and Adjunct Professor at NUI Galway. The free public event is part of the University's Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) Keynote Seminar Series which seeks to address pertinent issues facing the wider national and international community.

The seminar 'The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs – Can it deliver accountability on Foreign Policy?' will be hosted in conjunction with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, where Michael is an Adjunct Professor. In his presentation, he will draw on his experience of the Irish Foreign Affairs Committee and also on some preliminary results from research he initiated into the working of similar committees across 17 European countries.

According to Michael D. Higgins, "The recent Iraq War, its illegality, the rhetoric used to justify a pre-emptive strike, the misleading of Parliament and the international institutions, and above all, the tragic consequences that have flown from it, have raised the issue of the consequences of a gap between the moral concerns of a public, the actions of their Governments, and the response of their Parliaments".

The seminar will question not only the classic question as to whether foreign policy should be accountable, but also whether it is even possible against the argument of some practitioners that foreign policy makers and their diplomatic agents must operate in a relatively secretive manner. Michael D. Higgins will give some examples to help illustrate the context in which Irish foreign policy decision making operates and to highlight some of the obstacles to accountability thrown up by this context.

The seminar will be held in the Siobhán McKenna Theatre in the Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway, from 1pm to 2pm. For further information, telephone the CKI office on 091 493823.

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