International aid agency Oxfam Australia said Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s speech to the UN General Assembly in New York this morning has set out a strong case for Australia’s bid to secure a seat on the UN Security Council.
Oxfam said it was positive to see Ms Gillard highlight Australia’s major role in supporting peacekeeping, peacebuilding and international policing in places like Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.
The agency said it was also welcome to see Australia’s continuing commitment to sustainable development, including gender equality, education and the fight against malaria.
But with just weeks until the vote on UN Security Council membership, Oxfam Australia’s humanitarian advocacy coordinator, Steph Cousins, said the Prime Minister still needed to outline a clearer vision for what Australia will achieve, if it is elected.
“Next month’s UN Security Council vote is fast approaching, but the Prime Minister is yet to outline what Australia will do to protect people caught up in conflict if it gets a seat on the world’s most powerful peace and security body,” Ms Cousins said.
“Australia has shown the world it has solid peace and security credentials. Now it must show the world how it will use them on the Security Council, if given the opportunity.”
Oxfam said as a non-permanent member, Australia would have the power to substantially influence the Security Council’s agenda, decisions and ways of working.
“Oxfam believes Australia, if elected, should focus on improving how the Security Council works to protect civilians in armed conflict – no matter who they are or where they live,” Ms Cousins said.
“From Afghanistan to Sudan to Syria, it is ordinary women, men and children that make up most of the casualties of armed conflict.”
Ms Cousins said Australia could also take a lead role in promoting arms control mechanisms, improving the way UN authorised peace operations protect civilians, and giving communities in countries affected by conflict a voice on the Security Council.
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org