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International law’s ‘profound effect’ on Ireland
Professor Donncha O'Connell of LRC Pic: RollingNews.ie

10 Sep 2020 / legislation Print

International agreements' ‘profound effect’ on Ireland

The Law Reform Commission (LRC) says Ireland’s membership of international organisations such as the United Nations and the EU has had a “profound effect” on Irish law.

The body has published a discussion paper on the domestic implementation of Ireland’s international obligations, which traces the State’s participation in the international law community since 1922.

Best practice

The paper is the second part of the body’s research into the issue. In 2018 it published its Draft Inventory of International Agreements Entered into by the State, which listed the 1,400 international agreements that the State has either ratified or signed.

The research discusses 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 commission report also looks at examples of best practice in ratifying international agreements, and the role played by various organisations and institutions in implementing international law.

Domestic legislation

The paper says there are advantages and disadvantages involved in Ireland’s general approach to ratifying international agreements, in which ratification usually occurs only after the required domestic legislation has been enacted.

“This has the advantage that it indicates the serious intent with which Ireland seeks to implement its international obligations,” the commission says.

It adds, however, that this means ratification of an international treaty may take longer than would otherwise be the case, because it is dependent on the allocation of limited parliamentary time to pass the necessary legislation.

The paper looks in more detail at a number of agreements ratified by Ireland, and includes a detailed case study on the process leading to the ratification by Ireland in 2018 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

'Important study'

The research differs from many of the commission’s other publications, as it is mainly descriptive and does not make any recommendations for changes in the law.

The commission says it hopes the paper will be useful to policy makers, the Oireachtas, statutory bodies, NGOs and academics.

Professor Donncha O’Connell, who acted with Raymond Byrne as co-ordinating commissioner for this project, said the research provided an important study of Ireland’s international legal obligations.

“It underscores the degree to which international law impacts on the domestic legal and political spheres,” he said.

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