Australia should outline its UN Security Council strategy for protecting civilians: Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 26 Sep 2012

Oxfam Australia is calling on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to use her speech to the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow (Australian time) to outline her vision for Australia’s role on the UN Security Council.

With next month’s Security Council membership vote fast approaching, the international aid agency said Australia, if elected, should take a leadership role in ensuring the UN body’s decisions work to protect civilians.

Oxfam Australia’s humanitarian advocacy coordinator Steph Cousins said the Security Council was currently involved in around 40 security hot spots around the world where civilians were under threat, with its role ranging from monitoring the situation to managing peacekeeping missions.

“Civilians bear the brunt of conflict and insecurity. In many conflicts, civilians are threatened, exploited and abused by their own security forces with impunity,” she said.

“If elected to the UN Security Council, Oxfam wants to see Australia work to protect people affected by conflict and insecurity – no matter who they are or where they live.

“We also want to see Australia opening up opportunities for communities in countries affected by war and conflict to engage with the Security Council about security needs on the ground.”

Ms Cousins said Australia’s bid for the Security Council was good foreign policy, with success guaranteeing a voice for Australia on the world’s premier international security forum.

“It would give Australia a seat at the table of the most powerful body in the UN system, and increase Australia’s influence on global solutions to international peace and security challenges around the world, including within our region,” she said.

“But with power comes responsibility. To do the job well, Australia needs to look beyond national foreign policy interests towards solutions that can best maintain international peace and security and improve the safety of civilians.”

Oxfam Australia said that in addition to traditional security threats, like nuclear proliferation, the world was facing new security challenges that required greater Security Council attention.

“The Security Council is at a crossroads. To remain relevant, it must act much more quickly to tackle the trends that threaten civilians and exacerbate conflict risks – including lack of accountability for national security forces, the proliferation of small arms, and rampant gender-based violence.”

For interviews or more information please contact Oxfam Australia media coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or