'United Ireland' Requires Majority Consent

Desmond Nunan's letter (May 8) on the article "The Last Shards of Empire" (April 28) characterizes Northern Ireland as "British Occupied Ireland" - reflecting an analysis that would doom Ireland to centuries of further conflict as the majority in Northern Ireland, most of whom have been settled there longer than Europeans have lived in "European Occupied North America," defend their identity.

Happily, the British and Irish governments do not share this approach. In the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, both governments affirmed that "any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland." That is the basis of the multi-party talks that are about to resume, and that have been so ably chaired by former US Sen. George Mitchell.

Mr. Nunan looks forward to a united Ireland. He is not alone (though his hope is not, at present, shared by a majority in Northern Ireland). But if his dream is to be fulfilled, it must be because the majority consent. Emotive language about "occupied" territories will not help to achieve the peace and reconciliation we all crave.

Anthony Cary


Counsellor (Political & Public Affairs)

British Embassy

Questions of freedom

"Liberty's Ebb and Flow" on the opinion pages (May 9) incorrectly states that the UN cannot serve as a forum for discussions on key issues of global democracy.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is organizing a conference at the UN this July. Participants - including representatives of national and local governments, parliamentarians, mayors, and civil society organizations - will discuss strengthening of democratic processes and institutions throughout the world.

There is today a growing international consensus on the centrality of democracy and good governance to achieving sustainable development. While some nations persist in resisting democracy, the UNDP and other organizations recognize that the long-term success of international development efforts will only be assured where equity, democracy, and the rule of law exist. International development cooperation therefore increasingly involves providing technical assistance to elections, strengthening legislatures and judicia- ries, promoting transparent and accountable public administration, aiding anticorruption efforts, and enhancing freedom of expression and respect for human rights.

Anders Wijkman

New York

Assistant Administrator


I have one strong disagreement with the freedom article and map: Israel is shown as a "free country." Yet, Palestinians are in the same condition as the blacks in South Africa in 1980. Israel, free for Jews, is a police state for Palestinians.

Robert A. Wilkinson

Berkeley, Calif.

I enjoyed reading the information in Freedom House's annual survey. However, I noticed that you place the name of Nagorno Karabakh where Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan is. Nagorno Karabakh is on the other side of Armenia.

Moorad Alexanian

Wilmington, N.C.

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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