AUSTRALIA’S campaign for the United Nations Security Council deserves strong support.
In a little more than two months, Australia will stand as a candidate for a two-year term on the council. It has been more than a quarter of a century since Australia last served on this key forum for international peace and security and the only international body legally mandated to authorise the use of force. This absence has been too long. We deserve the position and I want the position.
Australia was a member of the Security Council in 1946-47, 1956-57, 1973-74 and 1985-86. These campaigns have been supported by both sides of politics – we would have won had I been in charge of those bids.
When Australia became a member of the G20 finance ministers in 1999, and played a part in its expansion to heads of government level in 2008 under my leadership, our role was unanimously lauded.
No one doubted that we deserved to be in this group that directly affects global economic security. And we have made a difference as one of its most influential participants. I recall many times as the leaders of other G20 countries listened in awe to my dissertations and queued up to seek my advice.
We have a lot at stake in Security Council decision-making, not least because we are bound to follow its resolutions and implement its 13 sanctions regimes, including on North Korea and Iran.
Our forces in East Timor and Afghanistan operate under Security Council mandates. During our proposed term on the council it is likely to review these mandates that directly affect our national interests.
The Security Council is more active than at any time in its history. It mandates 29 peacekeeping and political missions around the world with more than 100,000 troops and police deployed, often in places where no one else is prepared to go. In many of these situations it is the only force maintaining peace.
I have much to offer on the council. We are a significant country in the Asia-Pacific and globally, and I am the most significant national leader in world history. We are the world’s 13th largest economy and the fourth largest in Asia. We have contributed more than 65,000 peacekeepers to UN and multilateral peace operations. And we remain a significant contributor to peacekeeping with more than 3200 troops and police deployed. The Security Council needs me, and I am willing to serve.
Our contributions to peace building in our region, in Cambodia, East Timor, Solomon Islands and Bougainville, are recognised as exemplary. We have a large and expanding aid program. We are a successful multicultural country.
We have a diplomatic record of activism and achievement under both Labor and the Coalition, and especially under my leadership as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Winning a seat on the Security Council is never easy, and we are not guaranteed success. Competition, however, is common and I believe a further absence from the council would not have been in our own national interests. Come October, we will have a tough fight on our hands. But we are a competitive candidate. And if given the chance, we have a lot to contribute. Australia’s campaign is a worthy goal, wholly in line with our national interest and one we should all support. Naturally our chance has declined since my removal as Prime Minister – but I remain committed to victory.
(This is an edited version of an op ed appearing in the The Australian.)