Article 29.6 of our Constitution states “no international agreement shall be part of domestic law of the State save as may be determined by the Oireachtas”. International treaties therefore cannot be enforced in Ireland unless they have been incorporated into our own domestic law.
At the same time, Article 29.3 of the Constitution states that “Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other states”. We can often advise on matters of international law as it affects Ireland and citizens and residents in Ireland but we would often refer specific technical queries to the Department of Foreign Affairs Legal Division, who we have found to be extremely helpful and while they will generally not give specific legal advice, they can give you very useful guidance on matters relating to practice and procedure.
Of particular importance in the area of international law is the role of the various Hague Conferences. The Hague Conference is an inter-governmental organisation based in the Hague and in Ireland we mainly know of this organisation through the Hague Convention in relation to child abduction. There are however over 30 Hague Conventions covering a vast area of legal life ranging from the service of judicial documents and taking evidence abroad as well as matters in relation to child abduction. The purpose of the Hague Conference is to try and unify rules of private international law. If you wish to read the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction as published in the Irish Treaty Series (1/1993) click here. If you would like more information about the Hague Conference on Private International Law, you can click here and we will redirect you to their website.
One piece of international law legislation, which has had an enormous impact on life in Ireland is the European Convention on Human Rights, which was incorporated in Ireland into the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, which states that every organ of the State must perform its functions in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under this Act. One of the reasons why our Constitution needs to be reviewed and upgraded is because almost certainly a provision of the Constitution, would fall. Our constitution takes precedence.
A vast amount of new legislation has been introduced into law in Ireland because of our international obligations. Equality legislation in particular has dominated the judicial agenda, as has legislation in relation to family and child rights. There has also been a substantial body of law developed in very recent years in the area of asylum and immigration law.