Discussion paper explores Ireland’s implementation of international obligations

Discussion paper explores Ireland's implementation of international obligations

Professor Donncha O’Connell

The Law Reform Commission has published a new discussion paper on Ireland’s domestic implementation of international obligations.

The paper does not include recommendations and instead aims to assist policymakers, the Oireachtas, statutory bodies, NGOs and academics to understand the development of international law in Ireland.

It follows the publication in 2018 of a draft inventory of international agreements entered into by the State, which lists more than 1,400 international agreements that the State has either ratified or signed.

Professor Donncha O’Connell of NUI Galway School of Law and commissioner Raymond Byrne have acted as co-ordinating commissioners for the project.

Speaking at the virtual launch of the paper, Professor O’Connell said: “This discussion paper, together with the draft inventory, provides an important baseline study of Ireland’s international legal obligations. It underscores the degree to which international law impacts on the domestic legal and political spheres.

“As such, it is intended to broaden the scope of discussion and stimulate a more pragmatic evaluation of a legal and political system that is open to the influence of international law and move on from the somewhat reductive cost-benefit analysis of dualism. It is for others to build on this analysis whether as policy-makers, legislators, jurists, activists or scholars.”

The discussion paper describes the development of Ireland’s active participation in the international law community since 1922, which has involved ratification of over 1,400 international agreements, including the leading global and regional human rights treaties and conventions as well as those concerning a wide range of other matters such as international trade, mutual assistance in criminal law enforcement, peaceful settlement of disputes, nuclear disarmament, public health, refugees, and succession law.

It goes on to discuss the process involved in implementing international agreements, including the provisions in Article 29 of the Irish Constitution 1937 that require the approval of the Oireachtas before any international agreement becomes part of Irish law (the “dualist” approach to international law).

It discusses examples of best practice in ratifying international agreements, including the use of policy tools, such as a “Roadmap to Ratification” and Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), which set out clear and transparent pathways towards implementing the obligations in those agreements in our national law.

It also describes the role played by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Oireachtas, the courts, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, NGOs and international monitoring bodies, which ensure that the highest possible standards are applied in the ongoing implementation of Ireland’s international obligations.

Share icon
Share this article: